Up until only recently, according to wine journalist Rod Byers CWE, Zinfandel has been presented as “the Oakland Raiders of wine… loud, proud, unruly, and unapologetic.”
But at this past January’s ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Grand Tasting, Byers noticed an increased “sophistication” in the Zinfandels. In a report entitled Zinfandel grape comes of age, published this past March 6 in The Union, the Grass Valley (Western Nevada County) daily newspaper, Byers wrote: “None (of the Zinfandels at this year’s ZAP) seemed overly alcoholic, sweet, or rough. Only one could have been considered moderately tannic. The wines were fruity, balanced, and even elegant...”Continue »
A sommelier, according to standard dictionaries, is the person in a restaurant in charge of buying, storing and serving wines. You can say “wine steward,” which sounds pedestrian. And so people prefer to say sum-uhl-YAY; which, as you might surmise from the hoity-toitiness, is originally a French concept. The word itself is derived from the Old French word for pack animal driver – probably an alteration of sommerier (from somier or “pack animal”), and prior to that, the Medieval Latin saugmarius, from Late Latin sagma (“packsaddle”) – since somehow, sommeliers in France evolved from officials in charge of transporting supplies to dudes with the keys to restaurant wine cellars.
Sommeliers, in other words, are a breed apart. Since only high-end restaurants tend to have sommeliers, quite often they live in glorified worlds of their own, even though they are basically wine lovers, like any wine lover, who happen to get paid for cultivating their predilection. But inevitably, the way they think about wine can be different from the way even other wine professionals (like winemakers, retailers or journalists) think...Continue »