Battleship and Wine is a Unique Perspective.
I have to learn not to play Wine Battleship
Wine Battleship is a concept that I was recently exposed to at TEXSOM this year. What it refers to is:
- When reviewing a wine or winery, you should consider the perspective of the writer (and their reasons for writing) and what they are showcasing.
Interesting concept to say the least. It’s made me think about how I approach beverages and present them to YOU to make an informed decision. Let’s dive into this some more and I’ll give you a recent example.
Let’s look at perception. Perception defined:
This is so interesting to me. We all perceive beverages in a way different than others. For example, some of my best friends are coffee drinkers. Offer them tea and some will gag, others call it brown water, some say it’s not their first choice and others will be completely happy with it. They ‘perceive’ tea or coffee or any other beverage different than others. This is based on their flavor profile along with their mood during that moment in time.
One of the important points about wine battleship is who wrote about the wine. As in, what is the author’s background and objectives for writing. This influences how they ‘perceive’ the wine and how they will write about it. Here are some categories to think about:
They are attempting to sell their wines and winery concept to you, so they are focused on producing wine and promoting their products for sale.
Someone who has to sell wine. They need to understand the structure, aroma, and flavors of the wine to share with others to promote sales.
Someone who prepares food but also needs to consider matching the food with the wine (remember the bottle is static) so showcase a great experience for guests.
They are consuming wine for enjoyment and experiences and want to be happy. They will sample wine and if it meets their profile, they will enjoy it. This is closely tied with service and environment to make their experience exceptional.
All of these categories are valid in their approach of explaining and writing about wines. What we need to do is understand their motive in their writing. Not that it’s bad or wrong; just to understand their ‘perspective’ and how it may differ from our own.
Michigan (MI) Wines.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been visiting MI wineries. One reason is to hang out and explore MI. The other reason is to learn more about the wineries to showcase them to you. Michigan wineries recently won 39 awards at the TEXSOM Awards this May 2023. This is amazing as now the wineries are starting to receive credit for what they are making. I talk about MI wine all the time to people not from the area and I get the same responses:
- Are you sure it’s good?
- You are just saying that (like I’m being paid to say it – I’m not)?
- Well, I’m just not into sweet wines but you can enjoy them (it’s not all sweet).
I just had some friends stay with me and served them MI wine and they were truly shocked at how good it is. I find that I have to keep telling them that life is too short to drink garbage so why would I serve it to you?
Any case, I’ve been to a few wineries recently and have been pleased with the offerings. There were two standouts that I want to share with you.
I’ve been to this winery before located just north of Traverse City and it did not disappoint again. The wine I loved the most was their 2021 Cabernet Franc / Merlot blend. This wine shows classic elements of both grapes with great fruit, lovely tannins, and a beautiful profile all over. If we look at the perception of someone writing about my visit, you would see the statements below.
Projecting the winery’s focus, I love the description of the wine being all business. Talking with the server, this is a wine they made and normally will hold for a period after bottling. Nope, this one was ready to go so they decided to sell it. I’m super happy they did.
As a Sommelier, I would love to showcase this wine on a list. It shows what MI wines can be, even compared to the rest of the country. I love good fruit balance that makes you want to sip it over and over. Also, the price point would be fantastic as compared to other wines in the market.
The Chef Side of me wants to enjoy this bottle with a beautiful medium cooked Ribeye with Rosemary Butter Sauteed Wild mushrooms and a nice rich Saffron Risotto. The other option would be to soak some MI cherries in the wine under vacuum to infuse them and serve with homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
As for the general public, this winery was full of happy people the entire time I was there. They had heard about the wines and came to try them. I honestly do not think anyone left disappointed. Especially with the service. The staff was exceptionally attentive and a joy to hang around. It’s one of the wineries that if I lived closer to the area, I’d visit often to get a glass and hang out.
This was the first winery that I ever visited in MI when I moved here. It had been a while (Pandemic mainly) since I’d been back, so I was super excited to return and sample the wines. It’s a toss-up for me on what I thought was my favorite between the 2020 Merlot Reserve and the 2020 Cabernet Franc Reserve. Both were equal in structure and flavor aspects. If we look at the perception of someone writing about my visit, you would see the statements below.
Projecting the Winery’s focus, their description of the Merlot is ‘ripe red fruit aromas transferred to rich fruit and raspberry flavors. This full-bodied Merlot reveals spice and oak notes on a juicy finish’.
As a Sommelier, I may showcase this wine on the list compared to some Bordeau wines. Structurally, the wine had great tannins, acidity, and body. However, I was not able to detect any fruit on the nose or palate (and I did let it warm up a bit as it was a bit chilled).
As a Chef, I would serve this similar to a lighter Bordeaux with beef stews and grilled pork or chicken. This would be amazing to braise chicken in for a Coq au Vin.
As for the general public, the winery was filling up during the visit. I did notice them organizing for large parties (when leaving, a bridal shower was walking in the door) so there were a great deal of happy people arriving. My issue was the service (lack of it) as no one approached during the 30 minutes I was taking notes and examining 2 flights of wines. There was one person who saved my negative opinion as he was exceptionally friendly to talk with.
The reason I wanted to focus on perception today is simple:
- When I visit wineries, I pull out my notes and start to analyze the wines.
This is a bad start as I’m getting ready to perform Wine Battleship. I get so deeply involved in the Sommelier side and then the Chef Side on each wine. I know this is how my brain works and will always do that. Now however, I’m focusing more on the mindset of the general public. I’m learning more and more to turn off the analytics and just look around, interact, and enjoy. Wine (like all beverages) is to be shared and enjoyed for the moment. I still refer back to Anthony Bourdain’s comment years ago:
- Good Food, Good Drink, Good View, Good Company. Is there anything better in life?
Sometimes, I need to remember that we all should enjoy the little things. While I have a perspective, I need to look at all of them to see the magic.