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Reorganizing the wine shop
Finding your way around a large wine shop can be daunting, and not just to novices. Even the most seasoned wine expert may be stymied for a while upon entering a new shop and trying to locate the Austrian Grüner Veltliners or the Argentine Malbecs ... or just to track down a good ingredient and sipping companion for Saturday evening's coq au vin.
Perhaps the majority of wine shops simply sort their wines on shelves identified by the country or region of origin (or in the case of the sleek, well-stocked Lavinia in Paris, rooms divided among countries and regions).
But it's not uncommon to find shops organized by grape variety, for instance; and that's not all. Sweden's Systembolaget government stores, I'm told, set up the shelves in order of price. And a few innovative retailers - including the New York-based Best Cellars stores and some British shops - organize their wares by flavor, sorting sweet, soft, fruity and dry wines into separate sections to point consumers toward styles of wine they'll be likely to prefer.
Has the traditional country-and-region organization become dominant because it's objectively best? Or might one of the alternatives serve wine lovers better? In this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we offer you the opportunity to tell the wine merchants of the world just how you would like to see them organize the wine shop.
For purposes of the survey, the list of choices asks you to focus on the primary organization: In other words, a vote for "country or region" doesn't preclude the merchant organizing wines by color and alphabetically within each country or regional section.
Thanks to Peter May, the genial host of www.Pinotage.org and the delightful www.winelabels.org Website, for suggesting this idea and providing information about British stores that organize wines by flavor profile. Thanks also go to the usual crowd of volunteer advisors for helping to refine it. As always, this is a lighthearted poll without any scientific value, presented simply to inspire discussion and for the fun of seeing how your answers compare with those of other wine lovers around the world. Once you have cast your ballot, the software will immediately add your entry to the list so you can compare your response to those from other wine lovers around the world.
VOTING BOOTH LINKS
To see how others have voted, go to:
TALK ABOUT WINE ONLINE
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at email@example.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
In recent weeks, we've featured a couple of Spanish Garnachas (Grenache) in the single-digit price range, noteworthy for their bright, fruit-forward flavors and affordable price tag. Today let's see what we get for a few extra dollars, moving into the middle teens for a more upscale bottling from Borsao, maker of the raspberry Kool-Aid-like "fruit bomb" that we tasted on Aug. 11, 2004. Made from low-yield, old-vines Garnacha, it's a more complex and powerful wine with structure and balance lacking in the low-price brand.Borsao 2002 "Tres Picos" Campo de Borja Garnacha ($14.99)
This dark-garnet wine shows the signature raspberry character of Garnacha/Grenache on the nose and palate, but it's relatively restrained, and gains interest from grace notes of cloves and cinnamon. Juicy raspberry fruit and spice are nicely balanced by firm structural acidity on the palate, with high (14.5%) alcohol building a full body and a sense of heat in the finish. Not as much of a "fruit bomb" as its less pricey Borsao sibling, but it's still a very-berry, fruit-forward wine. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections, Fairfax, Ohio, and other regional importers; from Jorge Ordoñez. (Sept. 4, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: An excellent match with a char-grilled free-range chicken with fresh herbs tucked under the breast skin; plenty of body and structure to hold up well to rare red meat, too.
VALUE: It's frankly not a great buy at the $15 price point, although its balance, structure and reasonable complexity may justify the cost if you like a fruit-forward, powerful red. Shop around, though, as my local retail price was on the high side; this wine is widely available from Internet vendors in the $10 to $12 range.
WHEN TO DRINK: Should hold up and perhaps evolve in the cellar for a few years, but I don't see it as a long-time keeper.
WEB LINK: You'll find Bodegas Borsao's English-language fact sheet on Tres Picos here:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Check out prices and vendors for Borsao Tres Picos at Wine-Searcher.com,
Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!
For nearly 15 years, members have told us that a gift of wine from The California Wine Club makes a memorable holiday gift for business associates and a tasteful referral gift for the medical community.
We are now excited to introduce a program that benefits the Gift Giver. Our Corporate Rewards Program combines high quality wines and exceptional customer service with substantial savings and benefits just for you.
If you plan on sending holiday gifts this year, you may find it valuable to review The California Wine Club's Corporate Rewards Program at
For a fun and unique gift, or to experience a monthly wine adventure for yourself visit
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Bucko's Wine Reports: New Wines for Summer
Nat Decants: Fall Ambrosia
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: 1979 Anything? Suggestions please!
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Gallo meets Da Vinci (Sept. 3, 2004)
Another affordable Spanish Grenache (Sept. 1, 2004)
Report from a wine festival (Aug. 30, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Involtini di Melanzane (Sept. 2, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Sept. 6, 2004