The Never Ending Search for Great Wine

A few years back as I started to become interested in wines, I was searching for a really great wine that I could dependably go back to time after time. While the search for a great wine was a fun adventure, it never seemed to converge on a wine that I could always go back to and enjoy as much as the first time.  As it turns out, that was just the start of the never ending search for a great wine.

Part of the reason that it's difficult, if not impossible, to find a consistently good wine year after year is the very nature of wine making.  Each year's harvest is different, with weather playing a huge role. The spring weather determines how many of the grapevine buds will turn into bunches of grapes. And the fall sun or rain determines how well the grapes will ripen. And not only is there the variability of the grape harvest, but there are all the factors that go into fermentation and aging of the wines.  All these variables make for ever-changes nuances in wines.

Then you come to understand that there's yet another factor.  As you make your way along the journey in search of a great wine, you get exposed to more and more wines. And in this process, your pallet changes.  What was once a really nice wine becomes a so-so wine. So you keep searching, trying to find that one really great wine.

And to this day, I'm sure that there has to be that one great wine out there. Somewhere.  So I'll keep searching. But I also realize that it's a never ending search for great wine.  Enjoy your search. Cheers!


Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week -  Opolo Vineyard Summit Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)

This wine from Paso Robles CA is a great find. Described as having defined tannins with flavors of cherry, blackberry, toasted almonds and vanilla this Cabernet is a winner.  A super wine to enjoy grilled meats, cheeses, or just by itself.  Check this one out!

What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

Ever heard of Beaujolais Nouveau?  Well, its name literally mean 'new Beaujolais' and it really is 'new.'  

On the third Thursday of each November, France releases Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the world. The 'new' part of this wine is due to the fact that the grapes used to make this wine are picked from the vineyards just a couple of months prior to its release!  Yes, just of couple of months! That's compared to most wines that spend a year or more going through the fermentation and aging process before being bottled and shipped to market.  But Beaujolais Nouveau gets from the vineyard to you in about two months!

Word has it that this wine was originally produced for the harvest workers in France to immediately thank them for all their hard work just after harvest was complete. But now its production is somewhere between 30-60 million bottles so that the entire world can enjoy.

This wine is named for the village of Beaujeu in France, which is a small region just south of Burgundy. And there is a celebration in France each year, the 'Les Sarmentelles' festival to celebrate the release of Beaujolais Nouveau that includes music, dancing, fireworks and plenty of wine.

This wine is produced entirely from handpicked Gamay grapes and because it is so new, it is very fresh and fruity. Many describe Beaujolais Nouveau as having flavors of candied cherries, strawberries, red plum, bananas and even bubble gum!  When was the last time you heard of a wine having flavors of banana and bubble gum?  

Many may say that Beaujolais Nouveau is "not very good," but you have to look at the fact that millions of bottles are sold worldwide and that Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be enjoyed, not critiqued.  What you will find is that this wine is low in tannin (doesn't make you mouth feel dry) and has high acidity (mouth watering) and is great with foods.

So go out to a local wine store and pick up a bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau.  It's not going to be the best wine you've ever tried, but it will be an experience. And raise your glass to the French harvest workers and, for that matter, all vineyard harvest worker around the world. Rather than critique it, just enjoy it!  Cheers!