Let’s play a little game of fill in the blank. Big buttery ______. Big California _______. Big, bold, jammy ______.
When I think of big, I think of Andre the Giant, not wine. Has the word big become a bad word in our industry? Is it creating a divide between creators of wine lists and the average American wine consumer?
If you do a quick Google search of the top selling mainstream varietals in the US, you find a list consisting of labels that most industry folk would describe as “big”. There are descriptions including fruity, bold, buttery, and rich (which makes me remember The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase). However, these days it seems Sommeliers are consistently looking to place wines described as high acid, lean, elegant, or terroir-driven. Did we forget wine is made from the fruit of the grapevine? The more obscure the varietal, the more interested they seem to be. Just like Mr. Perfect, the mainstream varietals have become the heels of the wine lists but the masses still love them. Even though I lean more on the high acid, lean, elegant style of the fence it leaves me wondering why some Somm’s can’t enjoy the hell out of a BIG, JUICY, FAT, ROUND, RICH, DELICIOUS, FRUIT BOMB. I sure can on occasion. Meanwhile most restaurant customers are left mis-pronouncing Alicante and Gros Manseng. Wine is not ….Mr. Perfect.
Answers: 1) Chardonnay 2) Cabernet Sauvignon 3) Zinfandel