There’s a thought-provoking article in today’s New York Times Food Section on the nature of tasting wine in Napa, as well as of the juice itself. Jay McInerney reports that, although “it's the most familiar, most visited wine region in this country, it's also a place where much remains hidden—shrouded, if not in mystery, then by thousands of acres of Cabernet vines.”
The range of experience that visitors can have in any wine region that’s also a popular tourist destination, Napa included, poses a number of fundamental questions about what you want to accomplish with the visit. As with anywhere, it’s possible to bounce from winery to winery, swallowing the pours of each wine you’re offered, and learning little beyond how well your liver can handle the onslaught of juice.
The other experience--and the one that Napa does so well if you make the effort to take advantage of it--is both educational and emotional: Tasting on location, with the people responsible for the various bottlings, can be one of the most illuminating wine experiences you’ll have. The trick is to make sure you avoid the pitfalls of the former and take full advantage of the latter.
With springtime finally here, and vineyard visits looking more appealing than ever after the winter so many of us have slogged through, it’s an important distinction to keep in mind.
Note: Next week, we’ll return with Wine Review Wednesday, and focus on a number of high-end Napa bottlings.