Wine You Can Trust

Photo by Wes Martin

Photo by Wes Martin

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Dining at a local restaurant on a recent summer evening we asked the server to describe one of the white wines on the list. "It's not overly dry," she said, "and it's not overly sweet. It's somewhere in the middle." Good grief.

For many folks it's hard enough to navigate the hundreds of different grape varieties, growers, regional characteristics, vintages and more that make up the literal world of wine today. A little help from someone you should be able to count on would be nice. But the experience serves the point of an interesting article in recently on a "simple, usually failsafe means of determining whether or not a foreign wine is worth buying if you are having trouble deciphering the label." It struck a chord with us and we thought it worth passing along.

First of all, choices in wine are a good thing. If you remember the last time you were offered "red or white," you know what we mean. Different is interesting. And healthy. If the Slow Food movement has contributed anything to the future of this planet it is the wake-up call to the environmental and agricultural destruction caused by monocultures--the antidote to which is diversity.

Diversity results in choices, and there are more of them today. But there is also more ubiquity, more chaos and much more work required to try to sort out confusing and complex systems. And unfortunately that can result in more people trying to take advantage of the situation--to their benefit.

Wine standards have bled as they've been made for mass production. Huge demands for the "hot" wine of the moment-- Spanish one year, Australian the next, etc.--have resulted in uneven quality. Many wines are being dumbed down. Some growers--not many, but some--have been cutting corners. Then there's the occasional scandal such as the recent allegations that some writers for the renowned wine critic Robert Parker have been accepting travel accommodations and lavish parties from wine importers about whom they're writing. All of which makes buying wine a challenge.

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