I was reading an article in on-line American wine mag Palate Press about the lack of humour (humor) in wine writing and thinking that whilst this was true, the state of our Industry is really no laughing matter if our latest attempt at finding a drinkable example of the nations favourite white wine is anything to go by.
I’m sure by now you are all achingly familiar with the economics of On-Trade drinks – you know, the bottle of Plonk that you pay £15 in a bar cost the landlord £4 – and the wholesaler £3, which, after the chancellor has had his wack, leaves a little over a pound for the producer – if he’s lucky and the wholesaler isn’t too greedy and has shipped it himself from the source. Each step of the chain can justify the margin they have added to their cost price but the end result is that you, the consumer is paying a lot of money for very little. What on earth is funny about that? Everyone loses (except possibly the chancellor who collects a lot of tax for free)
Anyway, tasting these laughable (see there is something funny here) examples of so-called wine I began wondering why this wine is so popular. I mean at £15 for something that tastes little better than water, it is not great value. But it’s not great value at a fiver either which is roughly what you pay in a supermarket. And yet it’s the most popular white wine sold here.
For the record, two of the wines were half decent. Colli Vicentini Pinot Grigio Garganega 2011from Veneto in Italy has a good dollop of ripe fruit from the garganega variety which is capable of powering some more than decent wines (Inama’s superlative Soave Classico for instance) and Ancora 2011, a straight Pinot Grigio from Pavia had some crisp citrus and green fruit flavours. They were both at the top of the entry level price bracket and would probably end up nearer £16 in a pub or bar.
Sadly though, the wines that sell by the pallet were hard to like. Maybe its just us merchants that find them so inexplicably uninteresting. Talking later to my sister in law she pointed out that when a bunch of her workmates get together they just want something cold, wet and alcoholic. Pinot Grigio does that job without frightening anybody with any flavour. Like keg lager, it just slips down, without touching the sides.