|Richard Best is a best-selling author and a self-described frugal wine expert. His latest book "The Frugal Oenophile’s Winegrape Primer," available from http://www.frugalwinebooks.com, is great for people who like to explore new wines but don't know exactly which one they'll most enjoy. I did this quick Q and A with Richard yesterday. |
Creative Fusion: First of all, I just need to ask: What is a frugal wine expert?
Richard Best: Usually we assume the word frugal means inexpensive, or at least price conscious. That certainly is appropriate with today’s economy. But in its broader sense, frugal means careful. I like to think in terms of value. Value maximizes quality and enjoyment at any given price point. No matter what your wine budget may be, a frugal wine is the best one you can get for the price.
Creative Fusion: Are there any specific wines that you would recommend for Canada Day?
Richard Best: I would never hesitate to recommend a Canadian wine for Canada Day or any other day. We make great wine. And again, it’s something that most of us are likely thinking about right now, both economically and environmentally. I could list a few wines that I like, but that would penalize the ones I haven’t tried yet. In general, the VQA wines you’ll find on LCBO store shelves are high quality. VQA is how you can tell the wine was actually grown in Ontario. However, my best advice is to do what I am going to do. I’m heading for wine country (Niagara) where I’ll enjoy the sights and the hospitality of the wineries. I’ll also try the wines, and I’ll buy a few bottles of the ones I like. (Did you know that we have about 150 wineries in Ontario?)
Creative Fusion: Would there be wines better for a BBQ? How about a picnic lunch?
Richard Best: For many of us, summer means it’s time to put away the big reds. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have character-filled red wines on a hot day. Just stick with lower tannin, fruit-forward reds such as Shiraz, Zinfandel (the red one), and good ol’ Ontario Baco Noir. Most white wines work well in warm weather, especially the fruitier ones such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, or Grüner Veltliner. It’s also pink wine season, but look for quality dry or off-dry rosé. A word about serving temperature: We often serve red wines too warm and white wines too cold. Put a bottle of red wine in the fridge or on ice for about 1/2 hour before serving. White and rosé wines can take about 2 hours to come to a suitable temperature.
Creative Fusion: Sometimes when I go to a party, I don't know what to buy the host. Would your book help me and, if so, how?
Richard Best: I wrote my latest book mainly for my own use. I can’t keep the details of 200+ grapes in memory, so I compiled a lot of notes. These eventually became the book and, frankly, I refer to it all the time. It gives thumbnail portraits of all the grape names you’re likely to see on wine bottles, along with the grape’s history, what sort of wine it produces, and a list of foods that will go with it. If you’re looking for a new wine to try or if you see an unfamiliar name on a label, you can look it up in a matter of seconds and get just enough information to help you make an informed decision.
Creative Fusion: What is so important about knowing about the grape when you are purchasing wine?
Richard Best: Let me compare it to selecting from a restaurant menu. No matter where you are or how the dish has been prepared, chicken is still chicken and beef is still beef. In a quality wine, the grape variety, or combination of grapes, is the single most important factor. Terroir (i.e. where the wine was grown) and winemaking techniques are important, but their proper role is to capture the quality of the grapes. If you understand what sort of wine a certain grape produces, then you have a better chance of discovering wines you’ll like. And if you have a good cross-reference to different grapes and wine styles – such as my Winegrape Primer -- you can more easily branch out to new wines.
Now it's up to you folks. If you have any other questions, I'll be sure to pass them along to Richard, so he can try and answer them here www.facebook.com/anne.ptasznik.
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About Anne PtasznikHead thinker, writer and communications strategist with Creative Fusion, a writing and communications company serving companies and organizations that take social responsibility seriously.
Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy - Alexander Fleming