Even the most experienced sommelier is regularly surprised by wine. Since Biblical times, the ancient crafty work of vintners has played a critical role in society by fermenting and aging the juice of grapes. It has ceremonial and spiritual applications, medicinal properties and of course that cheek-reddening effect even the best blushes can't duplicate. It makes us feel good and goes great with almost any dinner—but only if you pick the right wine. And, nowadays, with so many varieties and styles, how do you know which ones to drink?
Wine Riot has these same questions. As a group of twenty-something wine drinkers, they came up with a concept they hope reinvents the wine industry, and more importantly, how younger folks understand and appreciate the diversity of wines. The concept: find a big, clubby feeling space, gather a bunch of wine brands to sample out their offerings, throw in a few brief presentations about wine, hire a DJ, and of course, bring those young, curious and confused about wine. Successful in their hometown of Boston, Wine Riot brought their program to LA March 26th, and have upcoming dates scheduled throughout Boston, Chicago, New York and DC.
A few organic wines were in the mix at LA's event, but it's not as cut and dry as organic food. Many claim that although they use organic grapes, they still add sulfites to preserve it (not organic). Several charitable wines, a Mondavi brother and the too-quirky gimmicky Anti-Wine all proffered stories of their exceptional quality and greatness, even though the wines I sipped strongly suggested otherwise. Dr. Loosen's is worth a bottle if you're a fan of Riesling. They were kind enough to actually inform us about the red slate vineyards in Germany and how it affects their great tasting wine, rather than who designed the bottle's artwork.
By far the best red was Justin's Isosceles. It was everything you hope a glass of wine to be: complex, spicy, deep, balanced. Well, almost everything you'd hope it to be. Affordable it is not at $62 a bottle. But then, the whole event is expensive. At $60 a ticket to sample wines when vineyards do it for free, and listen to self-aggrandizing marketing people shout over a bad DJ, you're better off investing that money in exploring wines on your own. There are an incredible number of great wines under $20. Your best bet, skip all the Riot and try a type of wine you've never had before while listening to a great playlist at home.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Photo: Jill Ettinger