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02.04.2009

How Your Wine Gets Here, and Goes Bad Along the Way

As Americans we have a reputation for not knowing, or even wanting to know, where our food comes from. It's a stereotype to be sure, but like all stereotypes, it has more than a grain of truth behind it.

But if we give little thought to how our steaks get into those little styrofoam containers with the shrink wrap, we give even less thought to how exactly the bottles we buy get onto the no_wine_this_way.jpgshelves we pull them down from.

If we did, we might think twice about plunking down $30 for a random bottle of wine in our local wine store, says Lyle Fass in a recent article in the Organic Wine Journal. Lyle is a fellow wine blogger, but he's also a (recovering) former member of the retail wine trade. Which means he knows a thing or two about how wine gets from the barrel to the store.

And according to him, it ain't pretty.

Importer Kermit Lynch (and others) vociferously declared decades ago that wine, especially European wine imported to the US, needed to always be shipped in refrigerated containers from start to finish.

Apparently not many people have listened. And even those who have cannot avoid many of the other perils that lie in wait throughout the distribution process, like bandits on a high pass.

Lyle's article is mostly an introduction to the problems, and offers some tips for the wary buyer, but if you want the short story, it's caveat emptor, all the way.


Read the article: Why The Trip Kills It
.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.