Why Wine Is Best At Its Origin

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - July 04, 2007
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I am convinced, after traveling extensively to different wine growing regions around the world, that the wines do taste different in different places.

Travelers often recall how great a bottle of wine was when they drank it right in the town it was made in. Then they remark on how different the same wine was they had brought back with them because they loved it so much. There are many reasons for this.

First it has a lot to do with the romance of the moment. Can you imagine anything more splendid than sitting on a veranda in _____ (insert favorite wine region here) during the cooling hours of nightfall with your spouse, friends and loved ones sipping and drinking the lively wines of the area you are visiting? Is there any situation more romantic, enchanting and more generous at lending itself to the enjoyment of the wine?

Each person’s outlook and overall ambiance completely change from having a bottle at home or while on vacation in a new and beautiful place. Our memories of the moment are incomparable to tasting the wine in your regular glass, in the home you know as well as the back of your hand. It is just not as glamorous.

Now let’s get real. A lot has to do with the shipping and travel of the wine. When you drink wines from the region, they don’t travel very far, meaning that there is little or no chance for temperature fluctuations, exposure to light or vibrations.

Many of the wines people drink in the region go directly from the cellar to the table, which is the best way to have them. There are more and more wine importers insisting on using only refrigerated means of transportation from door to door, but there are still many that do not. (By the way, a famous importer told me that he also believes that the infrared light on scanner in grocery stores and the like also damage wine.)

The wines that travelers drink in the region of their origin do not change between many parties either. They are purchased directly from the cellars of the producer by the restaurant, again limiting the possibilities of damage to the wine. Wines bought in the U.S. go from producer to importer, to distributor, to retailer or restaurant, to consumer with lots of different shipping methods and storage in between. Wine bought at auction can go through even more hands, especially if the wine is well-known and highly prized.

Another aspect people do not often take into consideration is the climate of the region in which the wines are being consumed. I find that drier and cooler climates are more comfortable for drinking wines. That’s why sometimes it is difficult to taste and drink wines at home, unless you have air conditioning. Even our palates differ according to temperature and humidity.

On my latest voyage to Burgundy, my friends and I had lunch at this great restaurant in Gevrey Chambertin named Chez Guy. We ordered a bottle of 1990 La Tache, a wine we had previously in Paris. The bottle was absolutely phenomenal in Paris, but this bottle was even more glorious and seemingly more youthful. It tasted 10 years younger than any bottle we’ve tasted at home. It had only traveled a dozen or so kilometers from its origin in the village of Vosne Romanee, was being kept in a perfect cellar and was drunk in a cool, dry restaurant with great food and friends.

I wish all wines could taste like that.

Recommendations: 2005 Palmina Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara, $22. So fresh and so clean! Lovely aromas blend together with refreshment that only comes from gulpable wines. 2004 Tritono Malbec, Argentina, $59. Boom! That’s the sound of the wine’s impact on your palate. Despite its intensity it has gorgeous texture and seamless structure.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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