The New Wine School

26 Jun

The NY Times Wine Critic Eric Asimov has begun a new revolution.

His monthly column called “Wine School” suggest three bottles from various vintners (with alternates) to introduce his students/followers to a specific grape.

Guess what… it’s working! Look for yourself: his first post from the series the past March covered Bordeaux and asked readers to sample one of the three bottles and consider three specific questions:

1) what does the wine smell & taste like?

2) what is the wine’s texture?

3) how does the taste change over time?

Keeping it simple and straightforward is working. That digital post has 633 comments, and wines are flying off the shelves. No doubt wine stores would like a chance to stock up on orders prior to his posts, fortunately the suggested wines aren’t impossible to find, nor are they limited production or highest profile (and price).

Asimov’s second article in the series ‘decanted’ the process and covered his reaction to the responses while providing a few lessons in what one could have expected, sharing reader’s experiences, and providing commentary that furthers the education of the process. I love the way he describes both the objective and subjective response to drinking a wine, including practical and temporary emotional responses. “Curiosity and an open mind are vital. Listen carefully to your responses and note them, but don’t accept them as the final word.” To me, Asimov is mentoring flawlessly here. I have always told people asking for wine advice “all you need to know is what you like” as a starting point, but few novices are ready to follow that up beyond figuring out what to order in a restaurant, pair with a meal, or pick up from the store to enjoy at home.

The comparitively small number of responses to the ‘decanted’ (22 comments) isn’t proof that people didn’t pay attention. But it does show that people were thirsty for the next taste: Beaujolais,  which pulled in 175 comments. The signal to noise ratio on the commentary demonstrates that those who wrote back often provided lengthy and detailed responses, which is both rare and appreciative in the world of digital media.

The next assignment, Sancerre, received 130 responses, again many with powerful detail and personal insight. I applaud The Times for inclusion of those who didn’t enjoy the wines as well as those who did.

The current assignment (Riesling) has been out for three weeks and already has over 90 comments, again most providing intelligent and quality worth reading, with a good percentage of responses describing the wine sourced, the food pairing, and the overall wine response, making a good dialogue.

So what’s enticing to your palate? Which wines are you tasting when you attend school?

Personally, I’m fascinated by the concept of open wine tasting & commentary, as opposed to formal tasting & wine school. Who knows how well it will work!

What do you think? Do you like this idea? Why or why not? Thanks for sharing!

à votre santé!



One Response to “The New Wine School”

  1. talkavino June 27, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Not sure if this wine school can replace the real passionate and knowledgeable wine instructor, but the comments people are leaving are very impressive, both in length and depth. Interesting initiative for sure, and it will help people to discover new wines ( and to the stores, to sell the wines : ) )


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