Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Buying Wine: Price, Taste Or Label?

Buying wine used to be easier...

Those of us who like to talk about wine also like to drink it. Not just the precious sips at a fancy meal or a toast at a birthday or wedding but we wine lovers like to imbibe daily. For no reason other than that it is nice to have a glass.

Recently I read somewhere that the French consider wine a food group and not an alcoholic beverage and once you look at wine in this way it is even more enjoyable. Less guilt but that shouldn't last long, as the health recommendations change more often than the various season during a year. Meat good, meat bad. Fat good, fat bad. Wine good, wine bad...was it always like this?

The other day I got a bottle of wine as a present. I was invited for coffee by a lovely lady up the road. When it was time to go, she gave a bottle of wine to me. Her son makes wine and she likes to drink wine ( just a bit, not a lot ). She still apologized to me because the bottle was without a label. She knows what it is so saving a label makes sense. ( A label does cost about 50 cents per bottle ) Oh, I was chuffed to bits.

About two days later I got the chance to open it and it was smooth, velvety, deep red and simply nice. As one does after a glass of wine, I thought of a witty Tweet. As there are always pictures of open wine bottles in my social stream, I thought I would join the fun...but my bottle was different as it had no label. No, a bottle without label produces no interest. Yes, labels seem to matter. How often are there aged bottles of wine on display. When you look at it you already start to wonder how good it really tastes and if it has joined its ugly cousin...vinegar?

Maybe there is a reason why ridiculously expensive wine only gets traded but hardly ever opened and drunk. Wouldn't you be disappointed if the wine that costs you a few thousand dollar, euro or yen, turns out to be of more use to make a salad dressing! By the way, how does one know that a bottle of 50 year old wine tastes good enough to warrant a small fortune?

Our area boasts a few big wine producers and many many smaller ones. They make enough for their own consumption and possibly a few bottles extra to sell. They are hobby vintners. Their wines are fabulous, have the right nose, note and composition to make a seasoned wine connoisseur sigh with pleasure. As each vintage is usually consumed and consumed with great joy, there isn't any left over for prosperity or future offspring to sample.

Our house used to belong to a local vintner. When we moved in, the cellar still had a few of his bottles complete with an appropriate amount of cobwebs and dust on them. The bottles were a bigger size than normal and last seen at least a decade ago. Yes, those bottles were old. When we opened them we didn't even have to taste it, as the whiff of acidity hit our nostrils straight on...

My label-less bottle of wine was in fact from a local winemaker who sells his wines all over the world. Oh, it was a fancy bottle of wine yet it seems label do make a wine more wanted and talked about. Sad but true.