's Sites We Love Saveur Magazine has listed The Skinny Gourmet among its "Sites We Love"

I've been having a great time checking out Nashville's high end dining on the cheap thanks to Groupon. Have you tried it yet? Its awesome. I don't know why I ever hesitated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Into the Wine "Way-Back" Machine

The New Year is always a time of looking forward to upcoming trends. My husband and I have recently been having fun constructing and "in-and-out" list for Skinny Gourmet, which we will surely post soon. But sometimes we get so focused on being hip and trendy enough to predict the future, that few of us take time to look back on predictions past. My mother-in-law has a prodigious collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines, so I just happened to stumble recently upon a 1997 special edition of Food & Wine. This one featured the hottest wine trends of 1997. Ten years later, I take a look at which of these are stale, and which are still fresh.

What we're drinking...

In my book all their 1997 reds of the moment are stale. For reds, they named California Zinfandels, French Syrahs, Australian Shirazes. While some are still good drinkers, you are unlikely to really wow anyone with your cutting edge wine taste if you are serving these 1997 favorites in 2007.

There's more lingering trendiness in the whites category. Their selection of Riesling and Chenin Blanc are widely available at your local grocery store, well beyond trendy. However, in my opinion, Viogniers have yet to have their day. This French varietal is one of my favorites with seafood. It is widely available at fine restaurants, but has yet to become passé at the home gourmande's table.

...In what

In 1997 they also note several bottle trends that have now become commonplace: blue glass bottles, vintage tall tapered bottles, and synthetic corks. The tall tapered bottles have become so common now that we scarcely stop to note they were once considered antique. Synthetic corks have gained popularity even with high-end brands because natural corks always run the risk of going bad and "corking" the wine. But back then even the prescient editors of Food & Wine wouldn't have predicted that in 2007 screw-top, once the ubiquitous marker of low class wine, would be making inroads into high class offerings, nor that vintners might contemplate putting great wine into boxes.

...From where

In 1997 they name Argentina, Central Europe, Oregon, South Africa, New Zealand, and Canada as "hot zones" for wine. Of these, most are commonly enjoyed by the home gourmande ten years later. It occurs to me also that we might be increasingly hard pressed to come up with new "hot zones." We are running out of as-yet-undiscovered countries located in the wine producing belts of the planet. It seems that now they will have to keep enticing us with undiscovered regions of unusual wine locations.

How we're drinking

I found their predictions about wine drinking experiences tailored to the whims of Gen X entertaining and interesting, "Twentysomethings are reading wine magazines written just for them. Wine X, for instance, has columns like 'Sex, Wine & Rock 'n Roll'". Although now with the proliferation of hip "gen" categories, (X? Y? XY? Z?) the promise of drinking experiences tailored to your generation still seems unfulfilled in 2007.

However, their predictions about the growth of wine bars and the growing presence of wine on the internet are spot on. Wine bars are ubiquitous on the urban landscape. Oenophiles are no less common now in the blogosphere, with plenty of delightful wine blogs.

Who is drinking

This one really got to me. As someone who graduated high school in the late nineties, I had always felt I grew up in the era of girl power. She-Ra was my childhood hero, and that was in the early 1980s. In my high school we even, wonder of wonders, voted a girl "Most Likely to Succeed." So I was a little surprised to look back to 1997 and see that they find Female Sommeliers and female winedrinkers utterly noteworthy. This is at a time when, even in 1997, the Editor of Food & Wine was...a woman. Still, always shocking when we're good at something, eh?

Good Riddance (still)

I had a good chuckle at their list of six things they were glad to bid adieu in 1997 (The list below quotes directly from the 1997 article). Me? I'm still glad they're gone. But look out in another ten years. These things have a way of coming back around:

  • Fifty-page restaurant wine lists with bottles that cost three times as much as they would in a wine shop.
  • Merlot mania.
  • Overly oaky Chardonnays.
  • Pretentious sommeliers and snobby wine lingo.
  • Red wines served too warm.
  • Cigar and wine pairings.

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