Matt Kramer (MK) has some solid suggestions here, 1. Use large wine glasses for vintage, extended lees aging, and I’ll add for rosé Champagne. 2. Quality of the final wine is whats important over process of production. 3. You need to go find great wines, they aren’t coming to you. However I think that these are far from the biggest mistakes, not or many modern problems.
Matt Says that vintage champagne has to be lees aged for three years, and thats pretty close to true, but in truth the wine needs three years total elevage ( aged in bottle) with at least 1 year on the lees aging. I know Im splitting hairs but Im self important and like to hear my self type, in either case He is right to say that 5 years for the canadian wine is a long aging on the lees. But I think more important than using a oversized glass for rich champagne it is more important to buy yourself shear rim glasses. Yes, that means that you will lose a glass every now and again but it makes it much better to spend the money on shear rimmed glasses than ruining the nice wines you drink, and yes MK is right, if you do buy the nice shear rim bordeaux glasses then fell free to use them for rich champagnes, late disgorgement or rosé or aged vintage because sometimes those wines are less about the bubble and more about the beautifully complex wine underneath, arguably true for all champagne.
While I agree that final quality is very important I think its important to find out what styles of winemaking you like as a consumer. Process is important, MK vilifies knowledge seekers,
“You didn’t use stem inclusion with your Pinot Noir? No indigenous yeasts? You used fungicides? Herbicides? You compacted the soil with tractors? Then there’s the matter of adding sulfur, filtering, fining, corks vs. screwcaps, and so forth.”
He lampoons the hipster wine consumer or perhaps professionals that drink in Winemakers tiniest adjustments. And sometimes I think it goes too far, like I don’t think we should eliminate sulfur additions for cleanliness like some factions advocate, because I believe we sacrifice typicity of place and varietal style.
But inquiry into fungicides and herbicides seem reasonable to me, there are vast idealogical differences between conventionally farmed grapes and organic and Biodynamic or even something more in the middle like lutte raisonnée. A difference in understanding of biological health of the soil through biodiversity in the form of healthy bacterias and funguses, and what the affects of wide or narrow use of sprays can mean for longevity of soil health. This in turn reveals both the probable direction and pursuits in the winery like indigenous yeast use and cosmetic additions. And probably correlates directly with winemakers willingness to dabble with oak use, oxygen levels during fermentation and aging, temperature controls, all which can affect the final style of the wine. If you know you tend to like wines that are low intervention in the vineyards and the winery, I think that while there may be some beautiful conventionally farmed wines there are just too many wines for consumers to consider, so just focus on what it is you like and let the professionals try the wines outside your purview and they should be able to tell you if its worth trying or not.
He’s mostly right that you need to go to a fine wine shop and not pick up your wine from an endcap at a grocery store. Even just from a numbers standpoint, often the most interesting wines coming into any market are usually the most limited, but I have to say that the three wines I’m most excited about in the store right now are affordable and case stacked. And maybe we should start expecting that grocery stores and liquor stores should carry interesting wines, the beer and whiskey consumers have driven even the crappiest of C-stores to carry some good microbrews and liquors.
The point of my post isn’t to nag too much on MK, because he does bring to light some hiccups in the wine world,but if we are going to call out biggest modern wine mistakes can we make the list a little more big picture. Things like – there is too much expensive wine; we expect too much of consumers and too little of professionals; or maybe we should start to worry about how climate change will affect the wines we will drink in the future, some grape growers are planning for it, but is there a conversation on the sales side on what acceptable changes will be.