If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know I’m from Long Island. You’ve probably also read some of my posts and reviews of local wines, and know some of my favorites. You can also view my favorite local wines on the list called “Jac’s Picks” toward the right side of the blog page.
You’ve probably also noticed by now my strong preference for European wines - some of my favorite regions being Piemonte, Bordeaux, and South West France for reds, and Loire, Burgundy, and Alsace for whites.
Yes, I’ll drink wines from Long Island, and from other regions in the United States as well. I’ve got a few Long Island favorites, plus some from Napa, Sonoma, and Willamette.
I’ve done some asking around lately, just out of curiosity, as to whether wine drinkers prefer Old World style or New World style, and overwhelmingly signs point to a preference for Old World style - lower alcohol, terroir expressiveness, etc.
So my question became: Why am I still getting “the look” from lots of wine acquaintances because I prefer European wines over American wines? Where’s my love for California wines? And my favorite - Where’s the local love? My answer: Sorry guys, I can’t call it local love. I do have some favorites from Long Island, those being several of the wines from Bedell, Macari, Shinn, Raphael, and a few from Pindar and Waters Crest and Wolffer. Yes, I’ve got some more Long Island wines to try, and I keep an open mind. But it’s just not local love for me, as the wines from the region where I live rarely have much impact on my palate and my senses.
Invariably, I’ve got lots of locals telling me what I should like - from Long Island and from the other New York region, Finger Lakes. I’ve already got some favorites, like it or not. I’ll continue to taste, and I’ll still look to learn and enjoy. But my palate has its own style, and that style happens to be Old World. I find it’s easier to pair to my cooking as well as what I select from restaurant menus, it’s lower in alcohol, and I find them more fascinating because it’s easier to detect their expression of terroir, so the wines can tell us a story about their place of origin. Kevin Zraly, in our WIndows on the World wine class, recently read us a quote from Sideways - it’s about how wine is alive and tells us about itself, about what the vintage year was like, the weather, and the people who grew and harvested and produced the wine. Yes, of course there are plenty of New World wines that express themselves to the drinker (including some of my favorites from Long Island, Finger Lakes, and the west coast), but it’s easier to distinguish wines from different European regions, and for me that makes it more fun and better for educating my palate.
I’m going to be honest - I’m tired of having my taste questioned. I’m tired of being told I should be drinking more American or local wines. I’ll drink what I want. And so should you. And we should be proud and happy that our palates develop a preference and a style - that’s an indication that we’re learning and we can tell one wine from another. But it’s awfully hard to learn when you’re being told what you should be drinking. I suggest giving everything a chance at least once, probably several times, keep an open mind, and always remember there’s an infinite amount to learn. And don’t worry - I won’t question your taste, ever.