Wine people seem to always ask other wine people to recall their most memorable wine, or their most exciting wine pairing . I always falter with the first, being lucky enough to have had many an amazing wine memories, but the second I have nailed down. I was in Genoa, Italy with my now-husband after we’d just missed our outbound train to Nice. We had just learned that driving in Italy has a learning curve and we were very far down on it. We found a hotel nearby, wandered the streets and settled on a lovely little restaurant, where we found a most agreeable sommelier. Ordering the local steak, he suggested we pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc from Alto-Adige. Sorry? Don’t you have a more suitable suggestion that might be RED? He asked us to trust him on this. To this day, that pairing is my most memorable. Simple, grilled, local meat and a delicious, local white wine. Not the pairing you would expect, but it was one that wowed. So it makes sense that the other night I found a similar delight.After the initial sticker shock of realizing how much I just spent on grass-fed NY strip steak at Whole Foods, my husband set out to find a suitable big, blustery Cabernet worthy of drinking with $50 steaks. But the Cabernet was just making the cut for me. So I poured some of the Sancerre we’d brought home and voila. A match. The Sancerre on its own had faltered a little too close to all grass, no fruit and a bit too acidic. One sip after the steak, the fruit coated my mouth, the acidity cut through the fat of the steak and the wine was twice as good as before. It brought me back to that time in Genoa, nearly 10 years ago, and reminded me that food and wine pairing is not a science, it is an art. And one NY strip may taste well with a Cab, but mine was shining with my Sancerre.
Today we release our 6th annual Wine.com 100. It’s our list of the Top 100 wines sold on Wine.com for the first 11 months of 2011. It’s the only 100 list compiled based on customer activity rather than critics ratings. Since we go through over 13,000 unique wines in a year, the top 100 list really showcases what people are saying with their wallets.One resounding theme that has run through all of our Wine.com 100 lists – everyone loves a great value. In particular, a great value Cabernet. In four out of six Wine.com 100 lists, a value Cabernet under $15 came in at #1. This year, it’s the Columbia Crest Two Vines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington. The 2009 is now sold out, but the 2010 is in stock and is fantastic! The rest of the list mimics the same kind of buying behavior we see each year – lots of wine from California (40) and lots of Cabernet Sauvignon (29), plus imports and domestic wines shared equal presence (50/50). But a few things stood out this year.– Italy doubled in popularity, growing from 6 bottles last year to 12 this year.
– White wine grew as well, going from 14 bottles to 24 bottles, with Chardonnay (9) and Sauvignon Blanc (5) leading the charge.
– Six of the top 10 were Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet usually leads as the top grape in our list, six in the top 10 definitely showed the grape’s popularity.
– A dry rose finally made the list! Though we have featured sparkling rose on our Wine.com 100, a dry rose finally made an appearance in 2012 at #67. The wine? Of course the Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rose, which, sadly, is sold out in most markets. Expect it to come back in stock next Feburary so you can stock up for spring and summer!Enjoy shopping the Wine.com 100 and stock up on your favorites next year so that you can help influence next year’s list! Cheers!