Category Archives: Sunday read

Sunday Read: Trends in the US Wine Industry for 2015

I am clearly having more time again, and I relish being able to read through blog posts again. It’s inspiring, and I have missed being able to do so over the last couple of months. Given that, it’s also time to resuscitate my Sunday Read column. I doubt it will get back to a full regular schedule, but I still want to use it to point you to articles I liked or consider interesting/thought-provoking.

In 2012, a Sunday Read pointed to Liz Thach’s post on statistics on the US wine industry. The other day, I cam across her Trends in the US Wine Industry for 2015 post, which is based on the 2015 Unified Wine Symposium and some articles. Thach is a professor at Sonoma State University and the geek in me gets a kick out of her bibliography at the end of the article.

Things that impressed me most in this article:

  • California’s dominance in the market (60%!!)
  • Per capita consumption is still low at 2.82 gallons (10.7 liters). That’s not a lot by any measure. These Wine Institute numbers for 2012 (it’s the most recent I could find – the US consumed 10.42 liters in 2012) indicate France consuming 44.19 liters (so roughly four times that), Switzerland drinking 40.44 liters, and even beer-addicted Germans drining 23.98 liters. Note that the Vatican tops the list at 73.78 liters annually per capita!!!
  • 36% of consumers using a wine app to check reviews or compare prices when shopping for wine. I guess not having a smartphone is the reason why it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that.

Have a great Sunday, and keep warm!

Liz Thach: Trends in the US Wine Industry for 2015

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Sunday Read: Silvaner – The Best Spring Wine You’ve Never Heard Of

With today being Easter (happy Easter to those who celebrate!), spring is finally, officially and weather-wisely here. We’re having a gorgeous spring day here in Ann Arbor, and I hope so do you…

Spring also means white wines, finally. While I never stop drinking whites in the winter, red wines replace a sizable chunk of my consumption and by the time spring arrives, I am happy to change back to whites mostly. Naturally Riesling takes its part in this, but Lettie Teague reminded me that there is another German grape that is worth checking out: Silvaner.

A less acidic alternative to Riesling that is used in Germany mostly in spring for its great pairing abilities with seasonal food like white asparagus. It’s hard to find in the US, and many of its incarnations in Germany tend to be flat and boring, but when done right, they can be exciting spring wines. I tasted a great bottle of Silvaner a few weeks ago that is part of the importer Rudi Wiest’s portfolio. I will write more about that in the very near future.

In any case, it’s spring and time for more whites. What white are you looking forward to this spring?

Lettie Teague: Silvaner – The Best Spring Wine You’ve Never Heard Of

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Sunday Read: Wine Fundamentals Part 4 – FEW

When we try wines with friends, one of the consistent topics that comes up in discussion is how to describe wine. It seems tricky, and the more elaborate the descriptors (the worst I have heard of is “women rider saddle after a hard ride”, yes, that happened!), the more intimidating it can be. I always encourage everyone around me to say what comes to mind….imagine the sick mind that came up with the descriptor I just mentioned! On the other hand: We have all sorts of weird smells stored in our brains (from our childhood mostly). And so if a wine smells like, say, old socks, then say so. Nothing is too crazy. Just go for it. Wine is, among many other things, a communicator. And only when we talk about what we smell or taste in a free and open way, without being intimidated about embarrassing ourselves, can we really enjoy the conversational part and the wine itself.

As with everything, there are some basics, and my new found friends over at Parade magazine, Allie and Melissa (we met at VinItaly), wrote a great piece about these basics a while back. The key is “FEW”, which stands for fruit, earth and wood, which make up the components of wine aroma. They go through all three with helpful examples, and do so in an entertaining way that does it’s job: Take away the intimidation factor.

One of the key takeaways for me has been that I need to smell everything around me, apples in the supermarket, the fresh ground coffee I put in my espresso tin can, the rusty spots in our mailbox. Only if our brain knows what something smells like we can identify that in the wines we drink. My case in point is gooseberry: I often find gooseberry in wines (a German obsession of a tart, yet sweet berry), while most of my American friends have no idea what a gooseberry is and therefore cannot identify it. The beauty of all of this is that flavors are subjective, shaped by our perceptions and knowledge. As with most knowledge, we get better as we practice.

If you want to learn more about these, head over to Allie and Mel’s article. I found it very enlightening!

Happy Sunday!

Allie and Mel Uncorked: Wine Fundamentals Part 4 – FEW

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