Last night, the author & editor of The Wine Trials held a release party at the Caroline Collective, the Houston coworking office where I lay my weary laptop. Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch talked vino, signed books and raised glasses. I liked them, and I liked the book, and I’ll tell ya why.
I’m just a regular guy. When I go to a restaurant or a wine shop, I don’t want to dazzle anybody with a deep knowledge of wine. I just want to spend a reasonable amount of money (say, two or three glasses should cost less than an entree) and drink something that tastes as good as what I’m eating.
I don’t have a very sophisticated palate (mmm, donuts) and I gotta think there are some wines that basically taste good to everybody – like, well, donuts. You don’t need a sophisticated palate to like donuts – you just like ‘em. Granted, there are a few wackos who don’t like donuts, and there are a few of us who have graduated to beignets, but walk into any office meeting in America with a box of donuts and you’ll win friends and influence people.
So how do we find wines that are the equivalent of donuts – beverages with a wide, almost universal appeal and reasonable donut-style pricetags? The Wine Trials took the approach of a large quantity of blind tastings: hundreds of people sampling wine from brown paper bags. (Sounds a lot like downtown Houston, only with feedback forms for each wine.) Their tastings covered wines in all price ranges, but they focused the book on the top 100 wines under $15.
My test for any review book is to open it up and read their opinions about something I personally have tried and know well. Erika and I are on a champagne kick at the moment, and Editor’s Pick in the book is Friexenet Cordon Negro Brut. Sold – that’s our second favorite budget bubbly, and I can forgive them for not including our favorite (Francois Montand) because it’s nearly impossible to find.
You can buy The Wine Trials from Amazon.
In related news, today is Champagne Friday at Caroline, and in honor of Robin & Alexis, we’ll be serving Friexenet. If you’re in the Houston downtown or museum district area, come join us for a glass.