Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Difference Between Wine and Cars

If a Hyundai representative appears on TV and claims their car is the same as Porsche because it has multiple gears and anti-lock brakes everyone would know this was public relations braggadocio (otherwise known as BS). When someone from a budget sparkling wine producer says something similar, people tend not to be able to see through the smoke. Let's clear the air.

Paul Ahvenainen, director of winemaking for Korbel Cellars, appeared on a San Francisco station in December and talked about the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine. Here is a link to the Gray Report's post on this topic.

"For us at Korbel, it's really about the process. Champagne is a product that is fermented twice: first you do it in the tank and then you ferment it the second time in the exact same bottle that the consumers can get." Viola, Champagne. Technically, he's correct, like the Hyundai rep above, but he omits that true Champagne only comes from France, a specific area of France.
But his offense is not omission, he goes on to bash sparkling wine in general. "Sparkling wine, on the other hand, can either be done in huge tanks and filtered into bottles or even artificially carbonated." This is true but completely misleading.

Cheap sparkling wine can be made in tank and the bubbles can be huge and inelegant and poorly integrated. Quality sparkling wine can be made in the méthode champenoise (méthode traditionelle) and can even taste better than some of the production based in the small geographic region of Champagne.

How hard is it to be transparent and informative instead of petty and underhanded? Nearly impossible for this Korbel cheerleader apparently. For those who might not have listened closely enough, he gave himself away, as most people do who have something to hide. He began his answer with, "Honestly..." He is correct, there are "a lot of different levels to that conversation" but to ignore the most obvious seems disingenuous, at best.

Wine confuses people, the question was asked, "for our viewers who may not know," and his answer will only confuse them further. This is why winery PR and spin can be so dangerous.

Happy New Year, may you encounter better information and more honest, passionate advocates for wine the rest of the year. I will continue to debunk, expose and discuss poor examples right here.