Glassware and Winery Direct Ordering

(Originally published December 1999)

Hanes is now trying to avoid his recent lazy ways and get back on the preferred schedule of sending my wine review during the first week of the month. Forgive him if the number of wines reviewed thus seems smaller (especially in contrast to last month's review). But, part of the reason for doing this monthly is that good wine often flies off the shelves and you need to put the available information to use in a timely manner.

A general comment on glassware. Wine Spectator recently had a cover story on Riedel crystal glasses. Hanes recently purchased a pair of Vinum series (the middle line) Chianti Classico and Bordeaux glasses. Yes, they do improve the taste of the wine. They especially improve one's ability to enjoy the aroma/bouquet. But these glasses are not cheap and, man, they break easily! Hanes broke one just washing it -- the lip shattered from the pressure of the sponge and he was being extra careful too. So, the final word should be spend the bucks if you want to improve your tasting experience, but be prepared for them to break -- THEY WILL. If you drink quality wine, think of the cost of the glassware as being spread out over however many drinks you can get out of them. Hanes wouldn't recommend using them for everyday usage, particularly when one's moronic friends are over for a night of sloppy swilling...

Check out Riedel's wine glasses at their website:

Hanes would like to say a word or two about wine clubs and ordering directly from wineries. Hanes actually drinks a lot more wine (bless my liver!) that does not get into these reviews because they are small batch selections, available exclusively from the winery. Thus, they do not satisfy the review's purpose of providing information on wines commonly available for immediate purchase. Many wines obtained straight from the winery are really great and, because of their unusual nature, offer a welcome break from the usual suspects. You can find a Carignane or Grenache or such and expand your idea of what you like. Unfortunately, due to bogus interstate shipping laws (maintained by the cartel of wine wholesalers) there are only 13 states that allow wine to be shipped between them. If you live in one of the states, Hanes recommends researching joining a wine club (the winery sends you a "wine of the month") or ordering directly. If you do not, take some action to change the laws! To get more information on how you can do so, open the link to the organization called "Free The Grapes!". Alternatively, you can have the wine shipped to a friend in a reciprocal state and they can then reroute it to you. But that is illegal and we all know that Hanes could never advocate any illegal activity.

For more on this debate and for cool general wine industry muckraking, Hanes recommends the following book. Hanes does not agree with all of the author's arguments but it was refreshing to read a contrarian's point of view. Next time you are in your local monolithic Barnes & Noble, placing an order with, or buying books at a mom and pop bookstore's going out of business sale, look for it!

The Wrath of Grapes (The Coming Wine Industry Shakeout and How to Take Advantage of It)
by Lewis Perdue
(Spike Books, 1999)