Wednesday, August 13, 2008


"I’m guilty of it. I’ve been guilty of it since I was 6 and my mom took me to the library once a week to switch out my pile of books. And usually, I must say, I chose right. The fun, bright colored covers with scrawling script and catchy titles actually turned out to be my favorite reads.

Fast forward to college, where, as an English Literature major I was in over my head with the classics of the canon. None of which had very fancy or colorful covers. But I still enjoyed them. It was as if, with a greater understanding and knowledge of literature, I could put aside my fanciful self who loved the bright books and come to appreciate more the bright words inside the binding.

I find this same theory, or pattern, is true for a bottle of wine. What kind of bottles did most people start out loving? Obviously, our eyes gravitated towards the bright, colorful labels. Perhaps one with some sort of critter on it. We loved these wines and loved the labels, but as our palate and sensibilities became more refined, we eventually found our selves loving the unremarkably labeled bottles, or perhaps an obscure French label.

However, I find more and more that it is possible to revert back to the popping in-your-face labels.

A week or so ago I tried Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue Bronzinelle 2006. This is a Kermit Lynch wine from the Languedoc, which was a stunning little bottle of wine. However, the label is plain. Aside from some gold lettering, there is nothing remarkable or overly interesting about its label. But what is inside is refined, elegant and takes a palate that appreciates it.

Compare this bottle with something like Venta la Ossa 2005. This is a large label that takes up nearly the whole bottle. It is a yellow color, with a large bear like animal sticking out his tongue and licking some grapes. It immediately grabs your attention, and is impossible to miss in our Spanish section. Since this is such a loud label, does it have to mean that the wine inside is of less quality?

My answer is no, certainly not. While these two wines are very different, the Venta la Ossa contains such interesting, jammy and deeply complex wine that its label seems to match its contents.

The moral of this story? Even if you’ve graduated into the classics (War and Peace/Chateauneuf du Pape), it doesn’t hurt to try something a little more colorful (Harry Potter/R Wines).

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