Showing posts from November, 2009

Is wine tasting perception or hallucination?

In 2001 I read in a Business Week magazine about some Hindu nationalists who trashed a couple dozen McDonald’s locations in India. This, in spite of the fact that out of respect for Hindu dietary restrictions, McDonald’s sells no beef products in India; only vegetable and lamb burgers. So what raised the Hindus’ ire? They had heard about a lawsuit in the U.S. brought by a group of vegetarians against McDonald's for flavoring their fries with a "natural flavor" derived from beef extract, which they unknowingly consumed.

What I found interesting about this is not so much the fact that the actual percentage of beef extract in a super-sized package of fries is reportedly just 0.000000000003%, but the fact that it was put into the fries precisely because the average person can perceive this flavor. The vegetarians and Hindus may have been upset because there was a negligible percent of beef in the fries, but they were also angry because McDonald’s was getting them to eat t…

Viñedos Emiliana: consciously organic, unconsciously world class

As a career wine professional, I’ve always approached every new wine the same way: by, first, suspending disbelief and preconceptions when looking at it in the glass, and then asking, does it taste good… are the aromas fresh, clean and compelling… the flavors rich, balanced, fine and elegant… or are they the opposite – dull, bland, rough or lean?

That’s it. No real science, except for the application of what Michael Broadbent calls a personal taste memory; mine's, accumulated over thirty-plus years of judging, buying, selling, writing about, and of course, enjoying wine.

Over the past year and a half I have been focusing on wines grown organically. Why? Because I believe that our lives hang in an ecological balance that demands proactivity; and covering and publicizing green wines is the best way I know how to contribute to that. We all do best what we love most.

The good thing about this is that not coincidentally, the wines I have always loved most are those grown and produce…

Green without tears: the wines of Organic Vintners™

Organic Vintners™ (, based in Boulder, Colorado, carries a solid, internationally sourced book of 100% certified organically grown wines, no exceptions. That is to say, not even so-called “sustainable” wines, with their more nebulous (i.e. just theoretically “organic”) standards, make it into OV’s porfolio. For more on the differences between organic and sustainable viticulture, re War Between the Greens.

But there are other really cool things about their wines:

• Organic Vintners’ guaranteed quality standards are pretty darned good (keep in mind, these are not sloppy, funky unsulfured wines, but wines made from organically grown grapes). As someone who has been buying and selling wine professionally since 1978, I can say that their collection of imported and négociant style wines is as good or better as any others’.

• The bulk of their wines retail between $10 and $22; totally dispelling the myth that certified organically grown wines are more expensive.

• OV ships…