What is it with we Americans who suddenly think because we produce wine (good wine!) that we have become experts on who should consume what? We did a couple of posts on White Zinfandel a while back that received a number of comments and e-mails. (Part II – White Zin: Guilty Pleasure or Virtuous Vice and White Zinfandel: Virtuous Viniculture or Viagra of the Vine) As a result I am always on the lookout for funny White Zin stories. Last week we picked up Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar by Jay McInerney, where I found an amusing story in the very first chapter. I’ll share it with you here:
Some years ago, on a stifling July afternoon in Tennessee, my wife and I hosted a garden party to celebrate the christening of our twins. Refusing to settle for beer and Bloody Marys, I decided to offer my guests their choice of Perrier-Jouët champagne or Domaine Tempier rosé. The Tempier was really the perfect choice for the weather and the food—grilled chicken, vegetables, and lamb. Yet I noticed that nobody was drinking the rosé; moreover, I was getting some strange, pitying looks, which at first I attributed to the fact that I had inelegantly sweated right through my linen suit. Finally, standing at the bar, I heard the bartender offer a guest her choice of champagne or white zinfandel. Stifling my first impulse, which was to cuff him sharply about the face and neck, I took the man aside and offered a few trenchant observations, as follows: So-called white zinfandel, with its pinkish or copper tint, is technically a rosé, but generally speaking these California blush wines have every reason to be embarrassed, dim and cloying as they are. At least one hundred makers, led by the prodigious Sutter Home, crank out ten million cases of the stuff each year.
The quality may evolve in time, but for now the makers of California’s more interesting pink wines tend to use the word rosé for wines that are more flush than blush. The bartender, on being apprised of these facts, agreed to start offering rosé to my guests (who remained unimpressed), and I agreed to try not to be a neurotic geek. Rosés, after all, are not supposed to require a lot of fuss. – excerpt from Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar by Jay McIrnerney
Now isn’t that interesting. A wine writer, who has clearly gained respect through his knowledge of wine, offers his guests what is considered to be one of the elite among rosés. The bartender “markets” it as a White Zinfandel, and no one is interested. (See this review of the same wine from our friend over at The Passionate Foodie–who according to McInerney, should be thrown in the pool immediately as should “anyone who starts analyzing the taste of rosé in public!”)
Now granted, the alternate choice was a well-recognized, more expensive bottle of champagne. And some people, bless their hearts (as we say in the South), are going to choose something just because it is perceived to be better; or because it’s pricey and has a pricey reputation. But even after the bartender is given the correct talking points, the lovely pink wine still sits alone like that gangly teenager who went stag to the Prom.
We adults in America still tend to be like teenagers in this regard. If something is perceived as popular, trendy, pricey or difficult to obtain, it’s all the rage — we simply must have it! And we all must have it–now–even if we don’t like it. And we skip anything that has been deemed passé, cliché, or as my teenagers tell me used to be popular “so yesterday.” In doing so we miss a myriad of fabulous experiences in sights, sounds and tastes, which in the end, means we’re simply punishing ourselves for the sake of popularity.
So next time someone offers you a new experience, give it a try. And I will be on the lookout for a bottle of Domaine Tempier rosé!