Whew! It's been a busy couple of weeks getting ready for our annual Fall Food and Wine Festival (so busy the blog had to take a back seat). We had a great time, as always, as did our many fans. And while we didn't hold any official vote that day, we figured that with the national election season coming to an end, we'd do our best to tally up "the will of the people." And what better way to gauge the people's will than by looking at what they actually bought? Here's a little bit about our top selling red and white from the tasting, unofficially voted number one at this year's tasting:
Red: Nero Negroamaro, from Puglia Italy
If I had been asked to predict the top-selling red at the beginning of the day, I almost certainly would not have guessed this southern Italian gem. Something more recognizable, like a Malbec, maybe, or a Cabernet, but Negroamaro? I love the wine, but you probably could have counted on one hand the number of people who walked into the store that day and knew anything about the grape. And yet we sold several cases of it that day.
Why did this obscure red beat out some more obviously popular choices at the tasting? First and foremost, it's delicious: dark and fruity, with notes of roasted plums, prunes, and mocha, it is incredibly well-balanced--not too fruity, but not too dry. Easy to drink on its own, but an obvious match for cold-weather fare like roast meats, lasagna, and other pasta dishes. I think the price had something to do with it, too--at just $10 a bottle, it's an incredible value. Kudos to our savvy customers for picking this one out!
White: Frisk "Prickly" Riesling, from Victoria, Australia
If I was surprised by the people's choice of red, I was blown away by the choice of white. I love good Riesling. LOVE it. Sweet or dry, doesn't matter--if it's well made, I'll have some. But a lot of people shy away from this great white these days. I think the reason goes back to the 70s, when German wine makers would mass-produce low-quality sweet Riesling (stuff the Germans themselves would never drink) and sold it in the US market. Fast-forward to 2010 and a much more sophisticated American consumer, and the bad taste left in our mouths from a few years of bad wine in the 70s still affects our palates: Americans don't want sweet Riesling. (Historical note: hundreds of years ago, before the French were even growing grapes in Bordeaux, the world's most acclaimed and coveted wines were German Rieslings.)Which is why I was so shocked to find that this was the top-selling white. It's a great wine, with lemon and white flower aromas, and an incredibly fresh, crisp, "prickly" feel on the tongue (there's just the slightest hint of fizz in there). But it's also a touch sweet, a deal-breaker for sure, I thought. Wrong again! While the wine is sweet, it's just barely sweet ("off-dry" is a better term), and the crisp acidity and "prickliness" balance the sweetness perfectly, keeping it feeling light and refreshing. People loved it, and I'm crossing my fingers that this indicates a more widespread trend that Riesling is in again!