Which affordable wines can age? How can I be a sommelier? [new blogs]

What–you thought blogs were soooo 2005? Here are a couple of new blogs that raise good questions or bring good perspectives to the world of wine.

Keith Levenberg, a young collector in NYC, is two posts in to his blog (but don’t call it a blog!) and raises two good questions. First, at what level should wine writing be pitched, the newbie or the connoisseur? He informs us that he will dispense with explaining wine terms and cut to the chase. Also, he ponders a subject near and dear to our hearts: which wines are suitable for aging that mere mortals can afford? I’ll leave you to discover his suggestions but I will add a plug for chenin blanc, especially leading producers of Vouvray, such as Foreau and Huet, or Ridge zins. Hit the comments with your thoughts on this $64 (for two or more bottles) question.

Also, Levi Dalton, sommelier at Alto in NYC, has been posting frenetically over the past few days under the title So You Want to be a Sommelier? Please, direct all your sommelier career questions his way! I’m sure he will respond with his characteristic wit and aplomb.

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7 Responses to “Which affordable wines can age? How can I be a sommelier? [new blogs]”


  1. At what level should wine writing be pitched?
    –as if there were a specific level. Is some sort of legislation envisioned? This is, frankly, a ridiculous question. Any writer is best off writing to the specific audience he wants to communicate with (it is, often enough, himself. That’s his natural audience. Should he try to satisfy some imagined ‘other’ audience, should he stoop to over-explaining and condescending, the results will be most unfortunate. As there is a plenitude of wine scribblers it’s safe to say that no audience will go unserved.

    This is especially true in the blogging age. Bloogers need satisfy no one but themselves; also anyone who can’t clarify a difficult term with a few keystrokes in Google probably can’t be helped and maybe even shouldn’t be.

    When the writer has editors, however, things change, as many editors like to put their thumbprints on a writer’s work; in that way they convince themselves of their own importance (whereas it’s more the case that most editors don’t have jobs, they have lunch). Then come the attacked by copy editors, a species of vermin that shoul;d be hunted for sport. there’s nothing a copy editor likes more than saying “but the readers won’t understand it!” Yes, print is dying–l;argely because of self-inflicted wounds.


  2. Hey Bill-

    Funny that you should mention editors, as I just found this closing parentheses mark – )
    Is it yours? I think that it must have fallen off of your post somewhere between the fourth and ninth lines. Maybe you just tossed the opening mark up in the heat of the moment and forgot to use his mate at the end. That happens sometimes during a particularly poignant post. Or so I hear…

    I don’t really need it. Please let me know if you want it, or know someone who could use it. It’d be a shame to see such a pretty little piece of punctuation go to waste.

    Dr. Vee-

    Thanks for the heads up on these new blogs! It is always good to get word about new voices, I hope that these two pan out. Cheers from the Rockies.


  3. Jarrod, if all you found was a vagrant paren you weren’t looking very hard. Given my jhaste, manual impaiorment and poor eyesight, Id say there havbe to be other typos. Indeed, I’ve just now noticed a couple of accidental semi-colons (typical errors for me) and an ‘attacked’ that should be ‘attacks’. As if any of this were germane to the argument.


  4. Argument?


  5. I agree with the first part of Bill’s original post: Bloggers should write to the audience they want to reach and provide the level of explanation that’s appropriate to that audience. And if the goal is to write to the trade, so to speak, then explanation could be skipped.

    However, if the goal is to include non-expert consumers, then it’s a good idea not to disdain their lack of ready knowledge. They likely would not expect you to understand everything about their professions, and it’s not reasonable to expect them to understand everything about yours.

    Graceful writing can include a certain amount of explanation without dumbing down the whole enterprise. And, really, the choice is not so either/or! It’s not that hard to link to a glossary housed on the blog or to outside sources that provide more detailed explanation for those who might want it.

    People trying to learn more about wine probably want to buy more of it, so it’s counterproductive to cop an attitude about them.


  6. I’ll aim at the second question, re. ageworthy wines that are affordable, as these seem very much to be where I am focused in my wine hunt these days. I’ll check out Keith’s post on it later, as I have long enjoyed Keith and Levi’s posts on wine sites. For wines that I would cellar on the cheap the obvious choice is the Loire. Obvious and yet it has taken me years to really get there. My current favorite house wine is the Guion bourgueil. Cheap, tasty, and yet I suspect it could handle a decade in the cellar. The chenin of Vouvray is yet another obvious choice, as well as Montluis, et al. But even cheaper is fine muscadet, and I have several vintages of Pepiere down to sleep right now.

    A less likely option, though a good one I am betting, is cheap burgundy. Of course cheap burgundy is, mistakenly I believe, considered an oximoron, I do believe that it is possible to find a lot of decent burgundy on the cheap with some exploration. Like most burgundy this entry level then requires a decade or so to come around in any decent vintage. These are some things that I lay down, and I am only buying cheap these days, so the topic is very apropos to me at the moment.


  7. I think of ageworthy affordable wines as falling into 2 categories: predictably ageworthy (mostly) and occasional surprises.
    Among the first group, I’d certainly second chenin blanc–from almost any area, but especially the Loire. I’d also add many German rieslings and Austrian Gruners and, finally, a lot of California Petite Sirahs and cabs (at least up to 20 years of age). A common theme for most of these wines is good acidity and good fruit. oh, also think of semillon as a good ager.
    In the second category, well, there’s no predicting. But it’s worth forgetting about a wine every now and then and giving it a try when you don’t expect much. I’ve had several Napa pinot noirs that were terrific after 40-50 years, for example.


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