For a long time, fine white wine has been at the bottom of the list for most people. Devoted red drinkers probably wouldn’t refuse if a host put a glass in hand, and they might even select a white wine for a delicately flavored dish. But most wine drinkers haven’t been willing to take white wine seriously enough to spend much money for a bottle. Yet I’m detecting a small breeze of enthusiasm, not a gale for sure, but more appreciation and more willingness to explore whites that go beyond the inexpensive, mass-produced cocktail variety, which are ubiquitous and perhaps in part have degraded the idea of fine white wine as though it didn’t exist.
Because enough of you have requested the opportunity to receive a reserve white wine, I’ve added the option to the Winemaker Series. So far, most of the requests have been for Italian whites, even though many people associate Italian wine with reds. But the Italians love whites and rose`and make a big range of both, whereas in California, white wine choices are limited. Maybe for that reason, people have migrated to European whites when they decide to investigate the category. In California, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate the imaginations of most winemakers for now.
Why there might be a resurgence of interest in whites is anybody’s guess. One reason could be that people are eating less red meat, which pairs best with red wine. According to the Department of Agriculture, both meat and poultry consumption has plummeted 12 percent in just the last five years. Vegetarian dishes are not at all incompatible with red wine, but many meatless dishes might be better paired with lighter reds. Yet anyone, who has looked for a lighter style red wine in the last few years, knows that the task has become increasingly difficult as reds have amped up in alcohol and extraction. Even wines traditionally at the lighter end of the red spectrum, like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or Grenache, are made in a much bigger style now than they were in the past, whether they come from California or Europe.
Rose` is also much more popular, perhaps for the same reasons that white wine is generating interest. It imparts just a taste of red but in a light and refreshing guise. In the past when I was selecting white wine for Celebrations, importers and California producers were quick to suggest rose` instead because it was harder to sell. Over the last two years, I’ve had to beg for the wine because it is allocated to restaurants and wine shops and sells out of winery tasting rooms.
Because we haven’t put the option on the website yet, you’ll need to call or email if you would like to receive the Winemaker Series reserve white wine, on the Italian side either in combination with a red from the Collector Series ($87), with a red from the Winemaker Series ($62), or combined with the Artisan Series red or white ($48). On the California side, the Winemaker reserve white combines with the Winemaker Series red ($62.50) or the Artisan Series red or white ($48.50). You could also combine the Winemaker Series whites from Italy and California ($62.50). In other words, you’ll have more white wine choices now instead of just the two Italian and Californian Artisan Series whites. So I’m putting this good news on the table and hope that it pleases many of you. Happy New Year!