When Do You Give Up on a Winery?


Blurred bottle of wineI am always a sucker for a pretty cover, whether it is on a book or on a wine. Growing up, prowling the shelves at the library (which is really easy when you work there shelving books), I’d pull a book off the shelf and, based on a quick look at the cover, decide if I should read the blurb on the dust jacket or back cover just to see if it would be of any interest.

Did I miss some good books? I bet I did. Did I find some great books? Many. In fact, looking back, I think I was batting 1.00 back then, never actually pulling a bad read. Or, at least, never pulling anything that, at the time, I didn’t like.

Unfortunately, a bibliophile skill like that doesn’t seem to be lending itself to the oenophile world. There was this wine, which, of course, I can’t remember the name of since it was, really, that bad. I had hoped to get a wine post out of it, too. Sort of a ‘When the innards are as good as the outtards’ type thing.

But the wine was so… Well, ok, it wasn’t *bad,* it was on the bad side of unremarkable. Which is, from this side of the keyboard, worse than a bad wine. A bad wine you can talk about. A bad wine you can say how bad the wine is, question the parentage of the vintner, ponder what type of food would be a match for a really bad wine.

But an unremarkable wine? You can’t really say much about it. If the taste of the wine doesn’t surpass the price of the bottle, but you don’t just spit it out, what can you say, really?

So, imagine my surprise when… Well, let me pause there. First, I need to talk about dinner.

I’m a big fan of casual. I’m a big fan of not having to make a decision (as my bride to be will happily tell you. For hours.), especially on dinner. So, one of my favorite little restaurants is this Italian place here in Seattle called Pasta Freska. For dinner, they decided to get rid of the menu. The chef/owner will sit down (or, if it is busy, one of the wait staff) and see what sort of likes and dislikes you have, or any allergies. Spicy? No seafood? No shell fish? That sort of stuff. And then, they start bringing out food. Not an obscene amount, but a little piece of chicken here, a tender few bites of beef there. Generally, you get about seven or eight courses. We went with the future in-laws the other night and had the signature eggplant appetizer, bread and salad, shrimp, pasta, chicken, beef, salmon and dessert (which, I hate to say, is typically the weakest course, although the panna cotta shines).

With this meal comes wine. Whatever they want to bring (well, they do give you the whole ‘white v red’ choice). Sure, you can ask for something special, or even just a descriptor (’We like big reds’ was the rally call of our table), but, why? They’re going to bring you random bites of food that they decided to cook, why bother picking a wine? Let them pick it. Sit back and relax.

That said… Imagine my surprise when they put down a bottle of wine from the same winery as the aforementioned unremarkable wine. Maybe it was the first bottle of wine, maybe it was the food, maybe it was the company, but this bottle was leaps and bounds beyond the bottle we had had previously (I forget which was which, a Cab here, a Merlot there, or vice versa, but it isn’t the key driver behind my thoughts here).

So it made me think.

At what point do you as a wine drinker give up on a winery? When do you drink a bottle or glass and say ‘That’s awful’ and never have their wine again?

Do you limit yourself to vintages and try them another year?

Do you limit yourself to varietals and try a different blend (or not-blend, as the case may be)?

And, now, of course, the biggest question of all: After reading all this, is there a wine maker whose wine you might need to try again?

(photo source:  flickr pool, editing by me)

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