Good Reads Wednesday

by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

jeff-smEvery Wednesday I post my recommendations of the best of last week’s postings concerning wine, whether blogs or news.  I list them in the order I read them, so you shouldn’t infer anything about the order in which I list these posts.

The power of the (somm’s) suggestion

Steve Heimoff

Often when I go to restaurant, I ask the waiter, or the sommelier if there is one, which wine he recommends with a particular dish.  I can’t say that I’ve been overwhelmed with the results.  When you think about it, that should hardly be surprising.  If wine were judgable on one objective scale that we all agreed upon, then it would make sense that the sommelier’s suggestions should hold water.  But there isn’t.  So if the sommelier likes one type of wine, with one taste profile, while I like something totally different, why would there be any reason to expect our preferences would intersect most of the time.  Yet I am still surprised, though I’m not sure why.  At any rate, Heimoff finds that he doesn’t have any more success than I do.  You would think this experience, if true for most people (as I’m sure it is) would quickly lead to the demise of the whole concept of a sommelier.  Dream on.

Why I don’t give more perfect scores

Steve Heimoff

I’m not sure what I think of this post, aside from the fact that it certainly makes interesting reading.  Heimoff is pretty stingy when it comes to handing out 100’s, at least as compared to Parker.   I’m not sure how one should deal with 100’s.  Suppose you taste a wine and you score it 100.  Then you taste another, and it’s a little better.  Do you give them both 100’s?

A critic confesses: California wine can be too sweet

Steve Heimoff

Heimoff is on a roll this week, at least as far as I’m concerned.  This post addresses the issue of candied California wines, which really is the same thing as wines made with overripe fruit.  Heimoff recognized that such a wine can still be excellent and balanced.  I guess I’m inclined to agree with him on that.  Once a wine is balanced, whether you like those ripe flavors is really a matter of taste.

Has Yeast Domesticated Us?

Erika Szymanski

Darwin meets wine yeast.  This is a really interesting look at the evolution of wine yeast, the development of new yeasts, and the risk to yeast biodiversity.

Investing In Fine Wine Is For Fools


I really hate the idea of buying and holding wines for investment, i.e., eventual resale at, hopefully, a higher price.  It really runs against the grain of my view of what wine should be, a simple pleasure, not something for the trophy case.

Some thoughts about Cava, and Ravenous leaving

jamie goode’s wine blog

While this post focuses on the exit of Raventos from the Cava marketplace, it’s more interesting for its discussion of Cava in general, and its shortcomings in particular.  I guess I’ve had my share of Cava over the years, and generally I find it pretty mediocre stuff.  It’s cheap, and rightly so.  Still, when I was in Spain and visited a Cava house (I don’t even remember which one now it was so long ago), they had several higher priced offerings (which I’ve never seen here) that were really very good.  So I don’t think it’s impossible to produce a good Cava.

How Much Do Tasting Rooms Make?

SVB on Wine

This post was of especial interest to me as we struggle to get our tasting room open.  It makes the point that one of the most important things to consider is whether you’re tasting room is generating sales in the future, not just the one time someone wanders into your tasting room.

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