Response to The Good Life, v13 i13

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RE: The Good Life, v13 i13

While Ms. Behrens makes some good points, I’d have to argue with her choice of Nick Tosches as an authority on the art of wine tasting. She says “Tosches wonders how a nose sophisticated enough to detect in “‘a bottle of rancid grape juice…”‘. That’s the first problem. If Tosches believes wine is made from “rancid” grape juice, he’s not just a cynic, he obviously doesn’t like wine. As a proud “pseudo-connoisseur” of commercial wines and maker & judge of home-made wines, I know that the end-product reflects your ingredients. I call myself a pseudo-connoisseur, not for the reasons Toches gives, but because I, too, won’t spend a fortune for a good bottle of wine.

Ms. Behrens quotes: “A true wine connoisseur, if there were such a thing, would taste the pesticide and manure above all else.” Well, I know a good number of vineyard owners, and none of them use manure. However, choose a good Burgundy and if you don’t smell a little manure in there, you probably aren’t trying. Generally, viticulturists don’t use a lot of pesticides, for exactly the reason Toches gives. However, most of the noticeable faults in wine are related to sulfur compounds, and these can all be caused by overuse of sulfur sprays, too close to harvest. Yes, we do notice these things!

On the question of whether “expensive” equates to “better”, I’d say that it’s covered by the law of diminishing returns. Expensive wines are often better than cheap ones. But, do I get 10 times the enjoyment out of a $100 bottle of wine than a $10 one? Certainly not, if I drink it myself. I have, though, drunk bottles of $200 Burgundy, Chateau Neuf du Pape and Vega Sicilia, shared with up to a dozen other people, and I’d say my share was well spent.

I’ll quibble with Ms. Behrens on another matter – you can’t make fine wine from Concord grapes… you’re not even allowed to use Concord grapes for [commercial] wine in Ontario. How one can believe that “handcrafted cheeses, cold pressed olive oil, and good quality imported balsamic vinegar” are requirements, but wine made from jam grapes is “good enough” is beyond me.

For reasonably priced, quality wines, try Argentina and Uruguay for reds, a new crop of reasonably priced whites from South Africa, and Spain for Rose. Check out “Trapiche” (Argentina), under $10; the “Oak cask” label is well worth the extra $3-$5. From South Africa, try the “Tribal Sauvignon-Blanc/Colombard” – $7 in Ontario, 2004 Spanish roses in May or June, or the Chivite “GRAN FEUDO ROSÉ” (the 2003 is $11 in Ontario, but it’s getting a little old – wait for the 2004, it’ll be worth it).

Derek Broughton – Musquodoboit Harbour, NS