There are a lot of wine websites on the interwebs. There is no better regional wine website when it comes to depth and breadth of content and expertise.
Lenn Thompson http://newyorkcorkreport.com/

Do what you like – I don’t really care!

What does this quote:

Unless it’s Zinfandel or Port, a 15.5% alcohol wine is not good. It may not be bad. But it’s not good. Though I can appreciate a firm slap in the face, that never feels nearly as good as a sweet caress on one’s cheek.

and this video:

have in common? Preferences.

The quote is by Tom Wark at Fermentation. Great blog, DUMB statement. If this was true than the stunning Monastrells I tasted last month while in Alicante must have really sucked! Monastrell, grown in the regions of Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla, ripens much like Zinfandel in California. For Tom not to have included an “In my experience” with the above statement seems a little short-sighted. If he only was talking about California wines, well then, I apologize. The debate he talks about is an interesting one, and in truth, I agree with the main premise of the argument that Tom is making. On the other hand, broad sweeping statements not based in fact…well you know what I mean.

As for the video, most wine geeks might cringe. Wine over ice with lemon? What has the world come to?! I really can only say, “get your nose out of your glass and realize that wine is meant to be fun!” GET OVER IT! Do I personally want this drink? NO. Do I care that others do? NO. Let wine drinkers have fun. Oh, and don’t go telling me that this is the downfall of fine wine and that we are losing our wine culture because of it. You’ll never see Alvaro Palacio jump to create the first Priorat based Sangria, but you will notice people putting ICE IN THEIR WINES as they’ve done for decades, and it’s OK to do it.

So back to the unifying theme – preferences. People have different preferences. They always have and they always will. My friend Bill doesn’t like sherry. Do I think he’s nuts not to like it? Sure I do! But I’ll never let his preferences deter me from enjoying this noble beverage. If people want to drink wines that have silly over the top alcohol levels, why should I care (never mind the 15% in a glass of fino)? There will always be people out creating wines that have lower alcohol and bigger body, but few who do the reverse. Personally, I pour vermouth over ice and mix it with soda. Tastes great! I had a 15% Monastrell with steak after I finished my vermouth, followed by a 12% Tempranillo after the meal, and then a 18% cream sherry to finish the night off. Oh no, what wine laws I have broken!

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is falling!

Seriously. Let the market decide. If someone likes to drink 15% California Cabernet, good for them. If you can’t find a restaurant without “big” wines on their list, don’t go there. If you want to put ice in your wine, well you don’t need Stormhoek to do it. Whining about things like this only takes away from my pursuit of new wines to try!

Tom ends his statement with this:

Here’s hoping that many more folks in the media and many more consumers take Dunn’s advice and start asking for a sweet caress rather than a slap in the face.

Maybe some people like being slapped around? I’m not one to judge, on the other hand, no one that I’ve ever met has been forced to drink a wine. If you don’t like it don’t drink it. If only the French or New Zealanders (as taken from Tom) are making wines that fit the bill, then kudos to them.

I’m done now, back to my 15% fino sherry,

Ryan Opaz

  • RichardA

    I do agree with you Ryan. Wine is all about preferences. And everyone likes different wines. Should winemakers only make superb wine? If we outlawed high alcohol wines, what would be next? Eliminate white Zinfandel. Get rid of two buck Chuck wines? Where do you draw the line? Educate the consumer about wines. That is the solution. Teach them about all of their options. But don't eliminate their options. Richard

  • RichardA

    I did want to add one thing. Dunn did make a request for reviewers to add the alcohol content to their reviews. How many bloggers already do that? I know that I do not. It does seem that fact is excluded from many reviews. Is it time we did add it to our reviews?

  • RichardA

    Ok, Cellar Tracker and Snooth both don't list alcohol levels.

  • Ryan

    Good question. I might be in favor of this, I do add it to some wines, but am not consistent. I think that the Social TN sites should consider it though…

  • Jennifer Beck

    I don't understand why you say the comment from Tom is dumb when all he is saying is that he likes to taste the subtle offerings in the wine instead of being hit over the head with it. Why are you judging him and calling his comment dumb? That is his opinion and shared by many people.

  • Ryan

    I'm not saying he is dumb, just that the comment is. He's saying that low alcohol is preferable. For me low alcohol is prefereable too, but I don't want to tell winemakers that they need to make low alcohol wines. Tastes change, morph and evolve, to say that winemakers need to start making lower alcohol wines when people enjoy what they are making seems silly. If you don't, as I don't,enjoy the big monster red wines, great! Then don't buy them. This is the exact quote that I think is dumb: "It may not be bad. But it's not good." saying that wines that are high alcohol, even if you like, them are BAD? What does that mean. Sherry, a light aperitif, consumed before the meal, white and usually between 15-18% alcohol is, according to this statement, "not good". Sorry that is a silly statement at the very least. Also Monastrell from Alicante is regularly over 15% and is often quite balanced, if he gives an exception for Zinfandel, then he should give an exemption for other wines too.

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    I do agree with you Ryan. Wine is all about preferences. And everyone likes different wines. Should winemakers only make superb wine? If we outlawed high alcohol wines, what would be next? Eliminate white Zinfandel. Get rid of two buck Chuck wines? Where do you draw the line?

    Educate the consumer about wines. That is the solution. Teach them about all of their options. But don’t eliminate their options.

    Richard

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    I did want to add one thing. Dunn did make a request for reviewers to add the alcohol content to their reviews. How many bloggers already do that? I know that I do not. It does seem that fact is excluded from many reviews. Is it time we did add it to our reviews?

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    Ok, Cellar Tracker and Snooth both don’t list alcohol levels.

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

    Good question. I might be in favor of this, I do add it to some wines, but am not consistent. I think that the Social TN sites should consider it though…

  • Jennifer Beck

    I don’t understand why you say the comment from Tom is dumb when all he is saying is that he likes to taste the subtle offerings in the wine instead of being hit over the head with it. Why are you judging him and calling his comment dumb? That is his opinion and shared by many people.

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

    I’m not saying he is dumb, just that the comment is. He’s saying that low alcohol is preferable. For me low alcohol is prefereable too, but I don’t want to tell winemakers that they need to make low alcohol wines. Tastes change, morph and evolve, to say that winemakers need to start making lower alcohol wines when people enjoy what they are making seems silly. If you don’t, as I don’t,enjoy the big monster red wines, great! Then don’t buy them. This is the exact quote that I think is dumb: “It may not be bad. But it’s not good.” saying that wines that are high alcohol, even if you like, them are BAD? What does that mean. Sherry, a light aperitif, consumed before the meal, white and usually between 15-18% alcohol is, according to this statement, “not good”. Sorry that is a silly statement at the very least.

    Also Monastrell from Alicante is regularly over 15% and is often quite balanced, if he gives an exception for Zinfandel, then he should give an exemption for other wines too.

  • Tom Wark

    "I’m not saying he is dumb, just that the comment is. He’s saying that low alcohol is preferable. For me low alcohol is prefereable too, but I don’t want to tell winemakers that they need to make low alcohol wines." Why not? I say tell them to make lower alcohol wines. I say implore them too. Nothing changes unless you ask for it. That said, this is good post, Ryan. I certainly enjoyed it. And while I don't think my comment was "dumb" I do recognize your right to say it is! :) Cheers, Tom…

  • Tom Wark

    “I’m not saying he is dumb, just that the comment is. He’s saying that low alcohol is preferable. For me low alcohol is prefereable too, but I don’t want to tell winemakers that they need to make low alcohol wines.”

    Why not? I say tell them to make lower alcohol wines. I say implore them too. Nothing changes unless you ask for it.

    That said, this is good post, Ryan. I certainly enjoyed it. And while I don’t think my comment was “dumb” I do recognize your right to say it is! :)

    Cheers,
    Tom…

  • ryan

    Yeah I guess I don't want to tell them to change, because their wines are not enjoyable to me. In this world there a thousands, if not hundred of thousands of wines to enjoy, and a few over alcohol wines isn't going to hurt my enjoyment of wine in general.

  • http://catavino.net ryan

    Yeah I guess I don’t want to tell them to change, because their wines are not enjoyable to me. In this world there a thousands, if not hundred of thousands of wines to enjoy, and a few over alcohol wines isn’t going to hurt my enjoyment of wine in general.

  • Tim

    The way I read Tom's comment (and Randall Dunn's) was it's a critique of wine ctitics who say that only wines with a high alcohol level can be considered the best wines. I think Tom is making the same argument as you, only in a different way. His argument to me says, "give us choices" not just high alcohol wine because we're told it's better with more alcohol. Personally, I prefer 13-14% when pairing with food. More at other times. Finally, why are you bringing up sherry? Sherry is a fortified wine, which makes it not even part of this debate.

  • http://www.cheapwineratings.com Tim

    The way I read Tom’s comment (and Randall Dunn’s) was it’s a critique of wine ctitics who say that only wines with a high alcohol level can be considered the best wines. I think Tom is making the same argument as you, only in a different way. His argument to me says, “give us choices” not just high alcohol wine because we’re told it’s better with more alcohol.

    Personally, I prefer 13-14% when pairing with food. More at other times.

    Finally, why are you bringing up sherry? Sherry is a fortified wine, which makes it not even part of this debate.

  • bbennett

    Ryan says "let the market decide". I agree with that statement. But, how does the "market" determine what to drink? As Tim alludes, they listen to wine critics. Let's just cut to the chase and NAME the man, Robert Parker. This man has almost single-handedly manipulated wine makers around the world into the "International style" of wine. What we are seeing is the logical extension of Parker's preferences. If big and bold is good, why not go bigger and bolder? Fortunately, as Ryan says, there are many, many choices. Personally, I too prefer lower alcohol wines, and do make that a consideration when contemplating a purchase. The thing is, that what used to be the norm, 12.5%, is getting harder and harder to find. The new normal seems to be around 13.5%. Having said that, would I prefer to see more lower alcohol wines available at my local wine shop? Absolutely. At the end of the day, I'm looking for some finesse, complexity and finish, not fruit bombs that fry the tongue (and the brain). So, let the lemmings follow Parker, et al. I will continue on my quest with my own palette (and some assistance from friends like Ryan). By the way, Ryan, I should say that I haven't YET had any Sherry that I like. Is that better? A little more open-ended at least.

  • bbennett

    Ryan says “let the market decide”. I agree with that statement. But, how does the “market” determine what to drink? As Tim alludes, they listen to wine critics. Let’s just cut to the chase and NAME the man, Robert Parker. This man has almost single-handedly manipulated wine makers around the world into the “International style” of wine. What we are seeing is the logical extension of Parker’s preferences. If big and bold is good, why not go bigger and bolder? Fortunately, as Ryan says, there are many, many choices.

    Personally, I too prefer lower alcohol wines, and do make that a consideration when contemplating a purchase. The thing is, that what used to be the norm, 12.5%, is getting harder and harder to find. The new normal seems to be around 13.5%.

    Having said that, would I prefer to see more lower alcohol wines available at my local wine shop? Absolutely. At the end of the day, I’m looking for some finesse, complexity and finish, not fruit bombs that fry the tongue (and the brain).

    So, let the lemmings follow Parker, et al. I will continue on my quest with my own palette (and some assistance from friends like Ryan). By the way, Ryan, I should say that I haven’t YET had any Sherry that I like. Is that better? A little more open-ended at least.

  • Ryan

    Tim the reason I bring up Sherry a fortified wine, is to show that alcohol levels have nothing to do with not paring well with food. Sherry is a Great food wine, and it has high alcohol. If the wine fits with the fare, it really doesn't matter the alcohol level. Also for those that like low alcohol reds, head to Portugal, while many can be big, I tasted so many INCREDIBLE wines that were around 12.5%….HOW SCHMOLEY!

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

    Tim the reason I bring up Sherry a fortified wine, is to show that alcohol levels have nothing to do with not paring well with food. Sherry is a Great food wine, and it has high alcohol. If the wine fits with the fare, it really doesn’t matter the alcohol level. Also for those that like low alcohol reds, head to Portugal, while many can be big, I tasted so many INCREDIBLE wines that were around 12.5%….HOW SCHMOLEY!