Ice Wine and Wine Drinkers (Essay #3)


 

I saw a short notice this week about Argentine producing ice wine. That was interesting since Argentine is in South America and has climate least suitable for ice wine. I thought about it after I read the news alert. I guess they can do it but how great it becomes is another story. I somehow am not clear on the whole business.

Wine in general is drank as a beverage and I can go on for pages writing what I know needlessly. Sometimes I read or hear something that bothers me and I may or may not know why. I don’t know why the ice wine from Argentine bothers me. I think my first impression has been that nature has a lot to do and the genuine product is made with least involvement besides nature itself. I also have heard stories about wine people cheating and making fake ice wine in refrigerators. The memory will never be erased. Ice wine brings a good price and I am not surprised people attempt to cut corners.

The problem, with New World wine countries, is the standards are so loose the cheating is not the biggest problem. You can do whatever you want under the guise of experiments in most of these countries and be strongly marketable. Some wines may succeed and many are forgotten. Sparkling wine from any grape, blend of your commercial grape with noble grapes, dessert wines from any grape and so on are examples of established experiments. I don’t think the efforts are genuine winemaking aspirations. I think they are commercial attempts. I am not old enough to see firsthand but do remember from good sources that at one time if a bottle of California wine had Reserved on its label, it usually meant all the left-overs and lower quality stuff were blended together to make the wine. What I was specifically told was “the worst wine they had.” I doubt if this is the case at all any more in California but what about other New World countries? They have a flexible protocol to try whatever and promote it as whatever. They get one or more safe shots without rejection from the market or criticism from writers. That is enough to increase the sales temporarily.

Dessert wines are very popular for many reasons. I personally have liked too many to prefer but in general I am comfortable with moderate sweet and botrytis. Syrup does not cut it regardles of how expensive the wine and I pass any off-dry large pours passed on as dessert wine. I don’t have a flexible palate for dessert wines. I like a few and I am happy with them. Ice wine is an expensive wine mostly because of how it is made. Is the quality that incredible? I have tasted a few and one has to have a palate that desires the wine to be extremely impressed. I haven’t been but can tell you if the wine was well-made or not. That comes with the tasting whether I care or not. They were well-made wines which in itself means many good things about the wine but does not change your perspective on the wine. Ice wine is not my preferred dessert wine. This is not because of the price nor the low quantity served but because it is not for my palate. I would be excited to drink a notable ice wine because I will be able to remember as exception to my history.

I would not care for experimental product unless they have accomplished something great. The ice wine category is one of specialized and hard-to-make wines. Why would anyone go out of one’s way to attempt difficult wines in a non-traditional environment? Passion could be a reason. The reality, however, could be money. Expensive means a moderate success will bring more for wine made of the same grapes in a typical fashion. I think that should be the beginning and the end of this dilemma for many wine drinkers. If the legitimate product is available, the duplicate is not worth it, even for less money, unless something has been achieved that serves you. The duplicate just pours money in someone’s pockets and you take a chance when you could be safe getting exactly what you expect.

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