last week, i had the privilege of attending the second day of the wine enthusiast editorial conference – a yearly meeting of some of the world’s most refined palates and esteemed writers to discuss the world of wine and plan a year’s worth of stories in three days’ time.
at the dinner after (which i’ll be writing about sometime this week – it was a truly amazing night) i sat across from wine enthusiast’s california editor, steve heimoff, an incredibly knowledgeable resource who has spent a lifetime learning about his trade.
heimoff is the author of a wonderful wine blog. his latest post asks a question that is often taken for granted by novice wine lovers and connoisseurs alike: “is a winery’s most expensive wine always its best?”
not always, heimoff says, especially if you’re buying a wine to drink immediately. while reserve bottles are often created to age well – tasting best several years from now – most of us drink more short-sightedly. heimoff says that if you’re planning to enjoy your wine within the year, you might actually be better off buying the budget bottle.
“The reserve isn’t “better” the way a Mercedes is better than a Honda. It’s different. If you’re of the school that a big wine far from its peak is better than one made for drinking tonight, then that’s where you sit. But there are other seats at the table.”
as a child of a consumer culture that usually assumes that more expensive = better quality, i’ve always assumed that the $30 or $40 must taste better than the cheap ones (and then gone ahead and bought the cheap vino anyway). heimoff’s post serves as a gentle reminder that wine doesn’t function so straightforwardly, with many other factors – for example, personal taste and what one intends to do with the wine – coming into play.