I was fortunate enough to wiggle in some vacation time at the
end of the 2015 harvest, being as small as it was. Even more fortunate
to be on the “Enchanted Rhine” river cruise with a number of Wilson
Creek wine club members. We were cruising down river and drinking
wine. “What do you think of this one?” was commonly asked of
me by our California wine drinking friends as they struggled to
understand the wines.
Winemaking style in Europe is quite different then that of
California, being more acid based and food driven, and less fruity
than the California style. As a result of this revelation or in some
cases confusion, I began comparing wine to pizza.
We are all very familiar with pizza, there is the New York style
having thin crust and the Chicago style with thick crust as well as
the California style with all types of unusual toppings. Pizza truly
reflects on the region of its inception for example: Hawaiian pizza
with ham and pineapple. Pizza reflects on the regions temperament,
ethnicity and favorite ingredients. We may have a style that we
prefer but we can also appreciate the other styles. As Americans we
look at pizza as a whole meal and feel that we own it. Yet pizza is
Italian, and it’s made and viewed quite differently there.
Wine is very much the same as pizza in this respect. In Europe,
wine is viewed a an integral part of the meal. It reflects on the
temperament, growing conditions, and viewpoint of the region.
The soil minerals, sunshine and the flavors come through in its
wine. As a result, the wines have pronounced acidity followed by
fruit. They tend to be lower in alcohol and thinner in body. These
wines truly shine with a nice lunch or dinner as the French and
Germans think it should.
The world of wine is as vast as the wine growing regions
themselves. Styles, flavors and approach to winemaking is a true
reflection of that uniqueness. Similar in respect to pizza with thick
crust or thin, tomato sauce of white, and the vast amounts of
toppings that are offered.
I found myself anxiously awaiting the next stop along the
Rhine to try its wines and order pizza with anchovies!