Wine snobbery runs as rampant as glass-winged sharpshooters spreading Pierce’s Disease through the vineyard.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t do New World Chardonnay,” or even, with barely a glimpse at the wine list and a wave of the hand that would make the Queen blush, “ABC,” which is the pretentious, LOL acronym for anything but chardonnay.
How many times have you heard someone quote Paul Giamatti’s anti-merlot quip from the 2004 film “Sideways?” Miles Raymond, the pinot noir-loving protagonist, is credited with reshaping the wine industry. It’s called The Sideways Effect, and it created a mass hysteria in wine country similar to the Salem Witch Trials. Only, merlot was on trial, not Bridget Bishop and 18 others. And pinot noir was pressed to death, as in, it received so much press in wine magazines that supply couldn’t keep up with demand, and batches of insipidly bad pinot were the result of cultivating in inappropriate soil.
According to NPR, “Sideways” depressed the market for merlot, and how could a quote like -“No, if anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f****** merlot!” -not be the mealybug in merlot marketing? Pinot noir production, on the other hand, increased 170 percent in California since “Sideways” was released.
Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White recently got into the wine snobbery business as well, claiming that only a “numpty” would buy English wine. Of course, anyone who isn’t versed in obscure Glaswegian colloquialisms for abuse will be forgiven if he or she thought a “numpty” was a distant relative of Humpty, or possibly Dumpty.
Yes, you might think this is the world of wine today, a fussy and privileged place where people won’t drink anything below 98 points, acquire a swirling tic every time they sip a beverage, geek out over yeast strains, have a first edition of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” on their bookshelf, and claim they were born in Napa Valley when they were really born in Valley Forge. But you’d be wrong. That’s not a bad harvest; that’s a season in hell.
Today, wine culture is all about urban wineries, tasting rooms, and wine delivery services.
The New Terroir
Goodbye wine country, hello wine city.
Sail to Trail WineWorks, located in the historic Higgins Armory in Worcester, MA, is part of a growing trend of urban wineries that began popping up throughout the country in the early 2000s, and which have ridden the wave of craft beer mania to stake a claim in what can best be described as the new terroir. This isn’t your Mom and Dad’s vision of wine culture, where bushels of grapes and rolling hills are cast in soft parallelograms of dust mote sunshine. Urban wineries are the graffiti and tattoos of wine culture. Sail to Trail is also the first urban winery in New England to be bottling in-demand varietals from the finest grape growing regions in the world, sourcing grapes and creating a community of artisan craftspeople.
Accessible vinification, tasting, winery drop-ins, a laid-back atmosphere that’s free of fancy white tablecloths and stately furniture –that’s what urban wineries are all about. They’re taprooms for wine lovers, more town than Town & Country, and a place where wine enthusiasts -neophytes and connoisseurs alike -can sample and judge wine on its own merit and not whether it’s trendy, Instagrammable, or if hotshot sommeliers like Aldo Sohm agree with the type of corkscrew or stemware that’s used.
And what of winespeak, that daunting, acrobatic vocabulary that often accompanies the grape? Well, everything has its own language –fishing, stamp collecting, opera -so even in the spittoon-free setting of Sail to Trail, you might hear the self-conscious vocabulary of the grape. But remember what the Anthony Bourdain said, “If it takes more than three seconds to describe the beer I’m drinking, you’ve really defeated the purpose. I feel the same about wine. I don’t need to know what side of the hill it’s grown on.”
A Good Grape is a Good Grape
Just because Sail to Trail doesn’t have all the trappings of high-end wine culture doesn’t mean its tastes aren’t high-end.
Wine comes from grapes. And great grapes are great grapes. Whether from East Blue Ball or Napa Valley, Sail to Trail considers them equal. Why? Because some of the best wines come from the places you may have never heard of. Sail to Tail filters out the crappy ones and gets the best ones directly to you.
Welcome to the brave new world of wine.