“You can’t taste wines like that and just walk away”
There is a large segment of the wine business where passivity is the name of the game. Allow the market to dictate the demand for something, then rush in to cut your own slice of the pie. It’s a lazy but all too common side of the wine business (sometimes called “commodity wine” or “wine as a widget”).
We see this time and time again on the commodity level of the wine world, where some marketing wonk decides that Pantone Gumdrop Green represents the right “attitude” for the 30-35 year old female market share, especially when the name of the wine references “Fifty shades of Chardonnay” … *urgh*.
At The Wine Company, we are anything but passive. This can, of course, get us in trouble if we take a big stand (in terms of dollars and inventory) on something that doesn’t pan out. But it doesn’t stop us. Being an active importer, finding wines of distinction and with a story, keeps us on our toes and more importantly helps us hold our own steering wheel.
Which is why we have a love affair with Austrian wine.
Our good friend, the importer Terry Theise, writes eloquently in his catalog about Austrian wine, including the idea that people seem freaked out about any word with an umlat in the name. Terry writes:
… I remember my first visit [to Austria] in 1992, tasting some of the greatest white wines I’d ever tasted. I was convinced of two things. One was that people would flip out when they tasted these wines, and two, even if I was wrong about thing-one, the story still needed to be told. You can’t taste wines like that and just walk away.
So how to blaze a path for more umlats on a wine list or shelf? How do we start to build the category into something sought after by all the right restaurants, retailers, and most importantly, consumers? Let’s start with some education. Below is a nice, bite-sized, easily digestible snack of Austrian wine information, followed by a handful of super short and to-the-point (a miracle on the internet!) videos of portfolio director Wil Bailey talking about Austria and why it’s worthy of attention.
We’ll geek out a bit more in another post, but for now this is a good start.
Austrian Wine: The top four things you need to know
– In the world of interesting wines for interesting foods, nothing, and we mean NOTHING compares to the wines of Austria. Especially when you’re pairing wines with foods high in folic acids (green leaves, asparagus, brussel sprouts, celery, etc.) there may be NO OTHER wines that can do the job right other than Austrian Gruner Veltliner.
– The other Austrian whites including Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc show pure expressiveness from Austria that is seldom duplicated elsewhere. The minerality, the verve, the attitude of these wines will change your definition of what is possible in a mere glass of fermented grape juice.
-Austrian red wines might be the most overlooked bang for the buck wines out there. The grapes are, yes, unfamiliar to most. But let’s look at how simple they are to understand. Blaufrankisch is a perfect Cabernet substitute for many, and ideal for lamb chops. Saint Laurent is described by Terry Theise as “Pinot Noir-ish with a ‘sauvage’ touch, and it can do nearly all things fine Pinot Noir does.” And Zweigelt is described by Wil Bailey as the “Drinkiest of red wines” and proven by us to be the ultimate wine with burgers (or Juicy Lucys). We consume an inordinate amount of Zweigelt at the office.
– Learning about the regions and sub-regions of Austria is easier than you might think. Check out the videos below for a good overview, and stay tuned for more.
Next: Why do Sommeliers love Austrian wine?
What are the main grape varieties of Austria?
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