Since the 1976 Judgement of Paris, American wine has become ingrained in American culture. It is highlighted in our movies and tv shows making it an exported part of our culture. What other changes have happened in the wine world because of American influence? Let’s take a look …
American Wine Making Changes Worth Keeping
Climate, availability and other things influence the ingredients we have available for creating our wines. Different grape varietals thrive in our soils and dry climates than traditional European grape varietals. Even the same varietals grown in different soils, terriors, and weather conditions produce differently tasting grapes. So, even the most traditional of American wine makers will produce different tasting wines than their ancestral family vineyards in Europe.
Madeline Puckette is one of CKJY Exports team’s favorite American sommeliers because she has Americanized wine with her book, Wine Folly, The Essential Guide to Wine. Her style of writing and presenting wine makes it more approachable and accessible. She is also doing a lot online and influencing/informing Millennials as they develop a taste for wine.
5 American Wine Traditions Worth Keeping Shared By Madeline Puckette
April 2016, Ms. Puckette shared 5 American Wine Traditions Worth Keeping. The five traditions she shares in that blog post are –
- The Cabernet, Merlot & Syrah Blend – Ms. Puckette says “While it was common practice in the middle part of the 19th century for Bordelaise and Burgundian winemakers to add Syrah and other southern french grapes to increase body and fruit in cold vintages, the practice has been illegal since at least the 1930s. No one advertised this practice then, and certainly French winemakers don’t use it today. The re-imaging of the CMS blend for the modern drinker is a uniquely American idea.“
- American Oak – The barrels that wine is fermented in influence the character of the wine itself. There is a debate over French Oak vs. American Oak. The true answer may be that certain wines need a more delicate oak influence making the French Oak barrels preferable and other wines benefit from the strength of the American Oak to add another layer of flavors to unfold on the taster’s tongue. True differences and ongoing debate over barrels in the wine world exist.
- Truth-In-Labeling – Oregon has lead the charge for clear, concise and accurate wine labeling. She shares they have stricter standards for classifications and feel their customers have a right to know what is in the wine. That is sensible American democratization of information, right?
- Single-Varietal Petite Verdot & Petite Sirah – Traditionally, these grapes have been ill suited to the European climates. This has made them traditionally a blending grape in the world of wine. In America, we can successfully grow them and develop single varietal wines using these grapes. Therefore, Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah wines are essentially American wines.
- Innovations and New Grape Varieties – “When nature is in the driver’s seat, the unpredictable can yield magical results, including the creation of new wine varieties.” America’s wine industry is creative and working to develop better grapes that could become a new American gift to the wine world.
Class & Culture for the American Masses
One thing that America has is social status aspirations. While we may be born into an economic class in this country, we choose which one we die in. What do the elite have, that is what we aspire to also have.
Currently there are 34 Sommelier schools operating in the United States according to Somm – Sommelier Trade Review. Worldwide there are 230 certified Master Sommeliers and of those, 129 are American. While most Americans eschew pomp, circumstance and the old ways, we still endeavor to beat others at their own game. The wine world knows that Americans are playing their game and winning a bit, doesn’t it?
As we build our lives, we want to celebrate with something classy. When we celebrate an occasion, we choose to toast our successes with wine. Wine has always seemed classy and, in America, we are all about affording class.
There is a bit of romance about creating wine and fundamentally agriculturally based. On a basic level, most people realize that wine is made from grapes grown locally, processed, fermented and bottled. There is a bit of mystery to the process even if you understand it completely on a scientific level.
While there are high dollar vintages of wine, which wine tastes good to you is totally subjective and personal. Over the years, one’s wine palate changes and you may find your develop an appreciation for a different varietal, type, etc. of wine. There is a bit of a personal quest involved in the pursuit of classy wines to drink.
Pairing American Wine with American Food
It may be easier to define exactly what American wine is than American food. America has long been a melting pot of cultures and tradition and this is readily apparent in our kitchens. What truly is American food? Can you pair wine with a hamburger? nachos? pizza? If you are American, YES!
“There has never been a more thrilling time to be a wine-and-food lover” Adam Strum’s statements succinctly convey the changes that have happened in American food culture.
In his Wine Enthusiast article “America, You Have Arrived“, he shared “Increasingly, interesting wine lists are surfacing in accessible—rather than just pricey—restaurants. The modern wine-and-food experience is about choice—in ambiance, in palate, in style and in price—without compromising quality.” He went on to say “according to Bill Terlato, one of the country’s leading wine marketers, “We have developed a strong food culture in the United States, and interest in fine dining is driving the growth and appreciation of fine wine.”
Beer may yet be the drink of the masses but … Americans rarely see themselves as part of the masses for long. They yearn and pursue with college degrees middle class incomes and lifestyles. As part of yearning for the good life they have incorporated wine, formerly and elitist indulgence, into their lifestyles. Hence, wine has now become part of America’s exported middle income good life.
Did you miss Part 1?
Born a Southern girl, I was transplanted a few times as a Navy wife! Now, our “retired” USN family, calls CA home. As UNC business school grad, I gained lots of useful insights by finding different opportunities and challenges along our military life’s path. Love of traveling, making friends, experiencing other cultures and sharing the best of all that with everyone are now all part of me.