Some of you felt that my wine quiz last summer was unduly taxing.
To be sure, it was almost impossible for even a very wine-savvy reader to get all the answers right, but I thought it would be fun and provocative to offer a quiz that would lead the curious to explore some wine-related issues further, or give a chuckle via some silly answer choices.
In case you are itching for a far simpler quiz, here’s a very brief one. It uses information derived from a survey recently reported by Reid Wilson of the Washington Post and may enlighten you painlessly.
Question: Which of the following alcoholic beverage brands would you choose at an open bar? Select one of each pair.
a. Smoking Loon
a. Chateau Ste. Michelle
b. Robert Mondavi
a. Francis Coppola
b. Fish Eye
b. Jack Daniels
a. Seagram’s gin
b. Seagram’s VO
b. Captain Morgan
Answer key: Assuming you found something you would actually drink among these options, according to a study done by GFK MRI, if your choices were mostly [a], you probably vote for Democratic Party candidates. If they were [b], you vote with Republicans.
Yes, it’s true; Republicans drink brown beverages, while Democrats favor the clear ones. Democrats are most likely to vote drink fizzy stuff and adore Smoking Loon. Republican voters are firmly wedded to Bob Mondavi, though they wouldn’t mind a chug of Canadian Club.
The company that analyzed these results (National Media Research Planning and Placement) consults for Republicans, so I suppose the fundraising parties given by the GOP this year will be fueled by whiskey and will also be a windfall for Mondavi.
Far more serious wine-related news comes from a California report on the ongoing drought in that state, the worst since water levels were recorded in 1849. Most California vineyards depend on irrigation to survive; with reservoirs half-empty, the water will be allocated and no one is certain if there will be enough to support the existing vineyards in some areas. Some growers are pulling out vines and planting higher-yielding nut crops, such as almonds.
Some of Burgundy’s top estates just announced that, due to hailstorms last summer, they will have no Vintage 2013 wines. The recent freeze in the Midwest and northeast has also been hard on vintners, especially in Northeast Ohio, where plantings of vitis vinifera grapes like chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris have suffered up to 90-percent bud kill. It’s too soon to know if the vines were also killed to the ground, but in any case, these vintners will be selling more Concord and Catawba wines until their fields recover three years hence.
Our own Cornell Cooperative Extension grape specialist, Alice Wise, sent local growers an alert on potential bud damage here on Long Island, with links to a video showing how to assess grapevine injury. Fortunately, our risk for winter injury here is low. Because our climate is moderated by our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean’s gulf stream, we don’t suffer from the hard freezes that limit the ability of vintners in other parts of the country to grow European grape varieties. It is also a blessing to have a climate here that is cold enough to make our vines fully dormant during the depths of winter.
There is no part of the world that is immune to natural disaster, yet the growing international demand for wine, and the globalization of the wine business, has fostered the supremacy of cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes as international cultivars. It won’t surprise you that vineyards planted to chardonnay and tempranillo have outpaced Georgia Republic’s rkatsiteli and the Turkish sultaniye, but would you ever have guessed that the Spanish variety, called “airen,” is the third-most-planted grape in the world (according to the University of Adelaide)?
Another wine trend from the globalized wine market is an increasing demand for more complex, less orthodox beverages. Savvy millennial drinkers don’t define themselves by wine or beer or hard liquor alone; they sample more widely then their elders, and favor craft beers over Bud, bitter Fernet Branca over sticky dessert wines and strange blends of red wine lees with dark ales.
We see the trend to complexity on the East End, where the LiV craft distillery in Baiting Hollow has added an espresso-flavored vodka to its line of distilled spirits, the Greenport Harbor Brewery added a citrus-flavored malt, and Bridgehampton’s Channing Daughters is working on herb-flavored fortified wines.
Want to guess the political significance of those beverages? I’ll leave that up to you.