Exporting America

On my recent trip to Austria, I stopped in at one of the city’s more well-regarded chain wine stores, Wein & Co, and took a browse around. I always try to visit wine stores whenever I travel abroad, not only to do a little shopping, but also to get an impression of what the locals are faced with when they pop in to grab a bottle for dinner. I’m interested in the selection of wines on offer – the balance between local wines and imports, the depth of offerings, price ranges, and more. In particular I’m always curious to see what these stores present in the way of American wine.

Wein & Co stocked what I’ve come to understand as a very typical European offering of American wines, for any given store that has actually decided to bother representing my country. Namely, a few dozen mediocre wines made in huge quantities by some of America’s (and really, we’re talking almost exclusively about California’s) largest wineries; along with a few fairly good wines (usually made by the same companies under more boutique brand names); and on occasion, a luxury wine or two (that may have been recently acquired by the aforementioned massive wineries). In short, a somewhat lacklustre selection from the point of view of someone who understands the depth, diversity, and quality of what America has to offer.

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