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I ask myself 5 questions, then answer them


Came across this little online article and thought I’d riff on the questions at the end. Here are my answers:

What is your death row wine?

If I was allowed only one, it would be a good, old Sauternes, let’s say 1921. Hopefully they’d let me savor it in peace with some foie gras. However, given the tradition of the last meal, I don’t see why I’d be restricted to a single wine! It would be an entire dinner. Since this is an exercise of the imagination, I’d have Thomas Keller prepare it, starting with Oysters and Pearls (served with a great old Champagne), followed by the Maine lobster, pork belly and butternut squash tortellini. As for wines, I’d be happy to let the San Quentin sommelier make my selections for me. I always say, a somm knows better than anyone how to pair his restaurant’s foods and wines.

What region produces the best wine?

This is a typical question to ask of a wine expert, but it’s a very silly one, so I refuse to answer it. It’s far easier to say which regions do not produce very good wine! I could make that list for you here in California, but I’d get into trouble. Let’s just say in my experience the regions that consistently produce great wine are Barolo, Barbaresco, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Burgundy, Champagne, the various German regions for Riesling, Alsace, Napa Valley, the Russian River Valley and California’s various coastal Pinot Noir AVAs. (Paul Gregutt will kill me for not listing Walla Walla, but I’m just not familiar enough with their wines to do so.)

What is the best wine and food pairing you’ve ever had?

Easy. I was at an event (a Lucullan feast sponsored by that year’s Mr. Bacchus, of the Bacchus Society) held at a private resort in Carmel Valley. Somebody went out and shot a wild boar. Narsai David, who also was a guest, cooked it on a slow outdoor spit for 24 hours. They served it that night as a course during dinner with a Stony Hill 1967 Riesling that, at that time, was about 25 years old. The pairing of the meat and wine was unforgettable. Nothing fancy or contrived about it, just the most perfect choreography of flavors.

What will the U.S. wine industry look like in 10 years?

Oi! I am never very good at predicting the future. I can barely remember the past, and my present is often a haze. At any rate, the future of the U.S. wine industry depends obviously on the future condition of the U.S. economy. If we recover from this recession, which some are now saying could last for a decade, the U.S. wine industry will be fine. If we don’t, I’d expect smaller, family owned wineries to start failing, slowly at first, then more rapidly. That doesn’t mean the big companies automatically will do well. There are smart big wine companies and incompetent big wine companies, and I think we know who they are! I also expect that regionalism will become a trend in wine consumption, something along the lines of the locovore movement in food. People in, say, Missouri will drink more Missouri wine, etc. etc. for all the states. Partly this will be a function of civic pride. Partly, it could reflect a breakdown in the transportation of goods. In California, I would expect more immunity to national economic conditions, as our state is still very wealthy, and winery owners tend to come from the wealthiest tier. What I don’t see happening in California is a shakeup of the traditional varieties people now drink. Cabernet will remain king of reds, Chardonnay queen of whites, and Pinot Noir will still be expensive.

I’ll add one final question the original article didn’t ask:

Will the 100-point scoring system still be widely accepted?


  1. ….and no mention of Oregon wines? PG will kill you first, then flay your hide and display the artwork 😉

  2. Brilliant S#*T as you can be! thanks for the smiles today! Cheers & oi to you.

  3. Dave Ready says:

    Make it a magnum of the good 1921 Sauternes and an extra lobe of fois gras and I’d join you.

  4. Missouri?

    I’ve been to Missouri just last summer, in fact, and went to the Justus Drug Store in Smithville, north of KC by about an hour, now a James Beard restaurant, and tried to find Missouri wines on their list.

    Despite the fact that they make all kinds of vodka and other infusions from local botannicals, they offer very few MO wines. I like to drink local, but it was pretty much impossible.

    I can’t say if the local wines are any good because no one there was drinking them.

  5. Charlie, unfortunately restaurants often do not support local wineries in the other 47. At least in CO, wine buyers don’t want to deal with multiple wineries as wholesalers and just do business with their handful of distributors (who don’t carry much local vino). Good local wine is hard to find because it is often only sold by the winery and produced in such small quantities. The total production of CO wine is around 100,000 cases and that is divided amongst 100 wineries…

  6. “I also expect that regionalism will become a trend in wine consumption, something along the lines of the locovore movement in food. People in, say, Missouri will drink more Missouri wine, etc. etc. for all the states.”

    This is true. Could not agree more. It’s like the Micro-Brew movement in that way. I also predict more urban wineries popping up in places like Chicago, New York, Austin, and Los Angeles.

  7. Interesting piece until the last Q… You are fooling yourself if you think the ‘100 point system” will have a significant role in future wine scene. In 10 years, many millions of winedrinkers will be much more sophisticated wine consumers than currently. As their base experience increases, the need to be spoon fed a few individual opinions will decrease. I see it specifically with the younger gen which relies almost entirely on word-of mouth and per-to-peer. This is the future wine world I envision. Sorry bub, you’re out of luck there… However since you’re thinking so far down the wine road, you’ll have time to advance your wine career in other formats/mediums just not some silly random evaluation system based on a few people… A few people who don’t even know what they’re talking about… really.

  8. As for your’deathrow’ wine, I do hope that things do not come to that for you. Your writing is not bad and hopefully we as a society are beyond killing the messenger. LOL. I am suprised at the dinner choice though. How about a salmon cured with lapsang souchang tea and a nice pink champagne, you know with 40% PN. And, I would never trust a somm in the slammer. Wonder how HE got there!!!!

    100 points will be around…really.

  9. gdfo, the somm was not actually serving time in the slammer. He was invited there, under heavy security, in order to service me.

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