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 shelves 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.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune