Today is a sad day because it marks the end of the Dutcher Crossing Wine Cruise. On this cruise, Dutcher Crossing affiliates, their wine maker (Kerry Damskey), and wine club members traveled around the Mediterranean Sea for two weeks. This powerhouse group of people went to some of wine’s most historical and important locations: Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain. We grabbed some insight from Kerry on his travels through terroir and tasting rooms to see how the relatively young vineyards of the United States stand in comparison.
Kerry’s comments primarily pertained to the differences between cheap/expensive wines in the U.S. versus cheap/expensive wines in Europe (AKA the “old wine world”). All in all his conclusions noted that pricy wines in both areas are quite excellent, but that the cheap wines in Europe far surpass the cheap wines in the United States. Sorry locally grown and fermented boxed wine- I’m now importing the cheap stuff that complies with my college checking account and getting my grape juice from Europe!
But before I become too unpatriotic and sell my soul to that eastward vino, it’s important to understand why the differences are so dramatic. For instance, it is not merely the use of cheap labor and supplies that cuts costs, but actual changes in the growing and fermenting process on cheaper scales that provides the differences between countries. In many of the European countries, the inexpensive wine typically does not partake in irrigation, which delays the ripening process. Cultivation of unripe grapes produce wines fuller in flavor in respect to wines with ripe grapes from California’s central valley that often lack in vitality from that hot deep soil. Cheap wine is produced from inexpensive circumstances and in this regard, Europe is better at producing bottom-of-the-barrel wines than the U.S.
I’m not yet sure if I am proud that we make bad cheap wine and save the quality for the actual good stuff, or if I’m just jealous that Europe makes poor products better than us… No matter the answer, the clear moral of this educational story is to get all of your cooking wine from Europe and all of your liquid gold from California, better yet, from Palmeri Wines!