Have you ever opened a bottle only to find that it tastes exactly like half of the other bottles on the shelf? It seems with wineries trying to zero in on the tastes of the American consumer, what most of them have succeeded in is making wine that is utterly nondescript and frankly rather uninspired. Whatever happened to that sense of place, the terroir, that made it important where a wine comes from?
The consultant, that’s what happened. Granted the wine business isn’t the only industry to fall prey to the unscrupulous consultant, but it is a tragic fall. It seems that certain consultants have made it their business to travel the globe, extending their patented formula to every winery they see, in an effort to maximize profits and make good wine too. That’s the problem with the system – the wines are decent, very drinkable, fruity, pleasant, and with that omnipresent ‘kiss of vanilla,’ which, I swear, is a human version of catnip, but the highly-paid, globe-trotting consultant has made it possible to make this exact wine from any grapes grown anywhere.
This means that the consumer will have a good idea of what to expect, but at the expense of making something special and unique, a wine that tells a story in the glass, a Steinbeck-esque description of what is is and where it came from. I think that is something worth fighting for. Globalization has made it possible to get KFC in China, and is successfully robbing the countryside of local charm and color – it’s basically homogenization. Everything all ends up looking, talking and tasting the same. I want more from my wine, more than a patented winemaking process. I want to sit back and taste the wine’s rambling tale. Food and wine seem to be the last bit of local culture to fade into oblivion, hopefully enough winemakers will take pride in their grapes to keep wine from slipping into the nondescript uniformity of global winemaking.