How wine lovers are nerds: The best insider sites

“CHEAP WINES is too good these days. “If that sounds exciting, you might want to read the essay with the same title on the Wineanorak website.

Created by Jamie Goode, a scientist who became a wine writer in the UK, Wineanorak is an online “Global Wine Journal” designed to appeal to wine nerds like me. (In British slang, “anorak” means nerd or nerd.) I read it periodically along with a few other resources, which I appreciate for their sheer depth of detail as well as their authoritative information. While reading these will not automatically make you a nerd, they can definitely help push you in that direction if that’s what you want.

Wineanorak, as Mr. Goode created in 1999, includes wineries, wine reviews and videos. His essay on cheap wine, published in the section “New to Wine”, gives a good sense of Wineanorak’s analytical style. “One of the problems that the wine category has these days is profitability. Wine is just too cheap, ”writes Mr. Goode. “The competition between supermarkets, which sell most of the wine in the UK (and in many other countries), has led to price competition. There has been a race to the bottom in terms of price, and it has largely been the producers who have suffered. ”

While reading these will not automatically make you a nerd, they can certainly help push you in that direction.

“I think the luxury of Wineanorak is that I can post what I want. I can be as nerdy as I want,” Mr. Goode told me in an email. “I’m not looking to chase readers by tailoring content to suit what most people are interested in. “And although the” New to Wine “section seems to be designed to appeal to vintyros – many of its articles focus on how wine is made – Mr. Goode noted that his current audience is primarily “nerds, traders, and committed consumers.”

It also describes the target audience of Meininger’s Wine Business International, another nerdy favorite of mine. I am particularly interested in the work of contributing editor Robert Joseph, who explores topics of interest to both wine professionals and dedicated amateurs on a weekly basis. Joseph’s recent essay on wine classification systems followed e.g. the trade news that two announced castles – Ausone and Cheval Blanc – had opted out of the Bordeaux classification. In it, he wonders whether the whole concept of classification is completely obsolete. “Today, the people in charge of setting up these hierarchies take into account perceived quality, marketing and wine tourism,” he writes. “Which raises a pretty simple question: If a winery gets all of these right, then why should it apply for a place on a bureaucratic leaderboard?”

Felicity Carter was editor-in-chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International for more than a decade, until she took over as chief editor in February last year. Launched in June, The Drop is Pix’s online wine magazine, a Napa-based search engine / information platform for wine buyers. Ms. Carter is particularly keen to address what she calls “pseudoscience” in wine writing and marketing, especially in terms of wine and health. “One of my goals is to make sure that everything we publish is scientifically based,” she said.

Ms. Carter’s competence extends to articles that appeal to non-nerds (red wines for the summer, wine horoscopes). But many of Drops’ offerings, especially those in the “Explainer” section, have greater nerd appeal. For example, author and blogger Jeff Siegel explores such nerdy topics as the marketing of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck and why it costs so much to send a box of wine. On the latter, he notes: “Retailers and producers must have licenses from each state they ship to, and they may also need federal permits. So a California winery that ships to 10 states must send copies of its license and permits. to each state, fill out each state’s paperwork, pay any state licensing fees, and then send copies of all that to the shipping companies. And that’s before any wine leaves the winery. ” Anyone interested in making informed decisions in the wine shop could benefit from this perspective.

Mr. Siegel even reveals something I did not know: that laws for wine shipping can vary from one city to another, even within the same state: “[S]Traveling to a city in Maryland can be different from sending to another city. In addition, the laws are different for wineries and retailers. “

The website I probably most often consult is CellarTracker, a true treasure trove of wine nerds’ taste notes. Created by former Microsoft CEO Eric LeVine, CellarTracker offers wine reviews and analytics sourced from thousands of knowledgeable wine drinkers and collectors. (There are currently 755,000 CellarTracker users, according to Mr. LeVine.) Their collective wisdom makes this site incredibly worthwhile, especially when it comes to deciding if a wine in my cellar might be ready to drink – or over its best age.

Take, for example, my most recent entry on the page. I wanted to find out if I should take a particular Barbaresco with me from my basement for dinner with friends. I found 13 CellarTracker flavor notes on my bottle of 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo and a total score of 91.5. As I suspected, CellarTrackers thought the wine was too young to drink.

A CellarTracker user known as Pinot Peter offered perhaps the most thorough assessment, from his own tasting of the wine in May 2021, worth printing here in its entirety: “2013 for me is a more classic tasting nebbiolo from Barbaresco. Starting to show a brick red color, large acidity, the tannins become softer and the fruit flavors begin to become more pronounced.Taste of tar, leather, raspberry and tobacco.There is a dryness in the palate at the beginning from the tannins with only a slight sweetness from the fruit.This begins to show balance Opens from the cellar at 60 degrees F. This opens up after the first glass as it warms by hand and begins to show more weight on the palate and sweetness from the fruit.This will be a great wine when you let the bottle open. decant or let the next bottle sit for a few hours. This will age well. Tried the remaining wine the next day. Softer and more fruit forward. Excellent. ” I can only add that when I opened (and decanted) the bottle, I found out that Pinot Peter was just right.

If you want to know more about wine in general; dive deep into wine science, commercial production, shipping and sales; or find out if a particular bottle is ready to drink, these sites can be incredibly helpful. And if you just want to nerd another wine nerd, they can also help you reach that goal.

Write to Lettie at wine@wsj.com

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