Good Wines Some People Hate

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - August 15, 2007
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In my line of work I sell all kinds of wine. So in looking at wines and figuring out how best to promote them, I find all the things that are great about the wine. Reasonably I also find all the things that buyers would not like about it in order to figure out how best to allay their hindrances to the wine. Here are some types of wines that so many people love to hate.

* Dry Rosé. This category of wine, despite the millions of gallons drunk in all corners of the Mediterranean, just doesn’t stimulate excitement in the general U.S. public. Yes, there are sommeliers and wine geeks (like me) who have promoted dry rosés as being some of the best and most refreshing wines to go with a meal. Nonetheless when people take a look at the salmon, copper or ruby-tinged rosé in the glass they just think it’s sweet! Or most people think that it can’t be a serious wine because, after, all it isn’t fully red. Yet, with its lighter texture and more floral flavor, it’s a white wine in drag. Alas, people will continue to enjoy rosé, but only when they are on holiday in Europe.

* Gewurztraminer is a wine varietal that barely makes a blip on the radar screen of the wine world. It’s usually listed under “Other white wines” on wine lists, like an outsider. Not to mention, most can’t even pronounce Gewurztraminer. God bless you! Yet the wine has beautiful application when taken with cuisine. It is great with a sautéed slab of fatty white fish like cod, escolar or opakapaka. Many recommend it with spicy Thai curry sauces (actually not my top choice) as it can work well cutting through the spiciness of the curry as long as the Gewurz has enough sweetness to it. That’s another problem with it. Sometimes it’s sweet and sometimes it’s dry. No wonder no one knows what it’s going to taste like when they buy it. It also has a truly exotic aroma of lychee, rose apple, pikake, tea rose, spice and peaches. It is so aromatic that you can use it as perfume - just dip your finger in the glass and dab the behind the ears. But drink it? Are you kidding? I bet you’ll opt for a glass of Chardonnay before enjoying a glass of Gewurztraminer. Maybe they need to change the name to help its promotion.

* Viognier is yet another wine that has lost much of its luster from its “glory days.” It’s also another grape that people can barely pronounce. This white is virtually always made dry, but it certainly smells sweet. The best of them smell like poached pears and apricots, and puakenikeni. But what has really hurt Viognier is that some of the greatest Viogniers don’t say Viognier on the bottle. They are made in France in appellations like Condrieu and Chateau Grillet, but who knows that? And frankly, there is a dearth of producers that are making exceptional wines in these areas. California and Australia play with Viognier from time to time, and so does Washington State, but really good ones are hard to find. And the wine, when it’s done right, is a super drink. It combines the exotic aromas and flavors into a texture similar to Chardonnay without all the oak that can wreak havoc with some foods.

Luckily, none of these wines or grapes will disappear in the foreseeable future. But if they ever do, you should try one before they are gone. They are unique experiences that someone is bound to enjoy - maybe you.

Recommendations: 2006 Londer Vineyards, Anderson Valley, Mendocino Dry Gewurztraminer $19 Exotic, tropical fruit aromas that sing like the sun. Juicy palate with balancing freshness, it’s great for a night on the town.

2006 Melville Viognier, Santa Rita Hills $20 has a penetrating aroma of fresh fruit and flowers. With just a hint of sweetness it is a crowd-pleasing, fun wine that is thirst-quenching.

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