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Food & Dining // Vino Sense
Roberto Viernes

A Wish List For Merry Oenophiles

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here is my list of Christmas wishes for Santa this year.

1) I wish that there was a way for everyone to authenticate their collectibles without spending thousands or millions of dollars to do so. With all the press coverage of the Rudy Kurniawan trial, I hope that wine producers, especially those who make the most collectible and valuable wines, take further and stronger steps to ensure that their wines cannot be duplicated. Here is what I propose. These same producers should number every single bottle they produce. Then someone should start a website that would be open to the public to cross off the list the number of the bottle that they just drank. This way, anyone around the world could double check the list to see if the bottle they are looking at is indeed authentic.

2) I wish that wine snobs would just go away. I don’t care if they are sommeliers, collectors, distributors or Joe the plumber – if they are snobs, then they need to find another product to be snobby about. Wine is to be shared and enjoyed. Elitism and snobbism should have disappeared long ago with the wooly mammoth.

3) I wish that the U.S. could produce wines as earth-driven and terroir-expressing as Europe (ooh, those are fighting words in some minds). I know some of you may say it is already being done, but try a bottle of Raveneau Chablis or Coche-Dury Meursault and tell me again what wine you think is anything like it. Or how about a bottle of Clos du Mesnil, Quintarelli Amarone or Vega Sicilia Unico, or etc.? And yet, I have heard California wine-makers say that it is only a matter of time before it happens. I cannot wait to taste it. I am on a quest to find it and be the first to sing its praises.

4) I wish that our government would stop looking at the alcohol industry with greedy eyes. We, as an industry, are easy targets for higher taxes (aka “sin taxes”). But imagine how much more wine business would be done if our taxes were lower. Has anyone in the government actually seen the example of Hong Kong, which did away with alcohol taxes? It has become a Mecca for the wine industry. Auction houses, collectors and wine business have flocked to the island, and the industry has more than flourished – it has had a full-blown mushroom cloud of business come to the island.

5) I wish that Hawaii’s wine buyers would be more serious about their wine programs. There still is so much potential for Hawaii’s hotels and restaurants to do so much more with their wine lists. Forget about the boring, mundane and easy. Challenge yourself to put together a list that really showcases your passions, talent and creativity (as well as business savvy). Don’t be frightened, there is a host of wine lovers waiting for more restaurants to bring a cosmopolitan flair and sensibility to our fair islands.

6) I wish that Champagne came in nothing smaller than a magnum. It just tastes better from magnum, ages better in magnum, it is more fun from magnum and you can make a lot more friends with a magnum.

Recommendations: 2008 Louis Roederer Brut Rose ($79) Absolutely gorgeous concentration in this Champagne, heady fruits, biscuits, toast, bread, flowers and just a suggestion of strawberry. This Rose has it all. NV Pierre Peters Cuvee Reserve ($59) purity of Chardonnay fruit and the signature minerality and focus of Le Mesnil in an altogether delicious package. One of my “go-to” non-vintage Champagnes.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. Email rviernes@southernwine.com or follow him on Twitter @Pinotpusher.

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