Most of us have a house wine. Unless you are a restaurant with printed menus, yours is probably just your regular go-to when you're craving that certain taste. There's a payoff in familiarity and it's probably your go-to because, bang for your buck, the stuff is pretty good! At least you think it is.
Restaurant house wines get a bad rap. They too rely on familiarity but too much so since the wines end up being, frankly, lousy. They want the stuff to appeal to everyone so there's nothing there that's interesting or distinctive. Just the same old crap.
Wait a minute. That sounds a little too harsh. Today's bulk wine is way better than similar wines were forty years ago when I was just getting my feet wet in the business. What the mass marketers have done is actually impressive. By rounding off a lot of sharp edges they've made it imminently consumable. But that's the problem, right? It's just not interesting.
A lot of times for just a few dollars more you can bypass the house wine to get something better which makes my old suspicious self wonder whether that's why the house wine is dull. So you have the option of going for the better (and pricier) wine. The only problem here is that the next wine, while better quality, is also predictable and boring in the same way the house wine was. That's mass production for you.
Retailers are kind of like restaurants with respect to the wines they stock. The chain stores stock all of the mass market wines because it goes to the heart of the deal between supplier and retailer - the shelves must be kept stocked. No"out-of-stocks" allowed. Keep the product coming. So by default, they end up with mass produced wines.
It takes small independent restaurants and retailers to provide distinction and with a little bit of know-how, they can find it at any price.
This Thursday the 31st of January, Cheri Rubio leads us in a tasting of three from Pedroncelli of Sonoma Valley. That evening between 5 and 7pm we will taste the Merlot, Pinot Noir and Mother Clone Zinfandel. Our event will begin with a fine Alsatian white blend, Hugel's Gentil.
Then on February 7th Dominique Chambon offers us a tasting of French Burgundies and a particularly nice Italian Sangiovese Rose. Please join us for the tastings.