By Don Radebaugh
Renowned American chef, author and television personality Julia Child once said, “I enjoy cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food.”
For a gal who was known more for her culinary art, her affinity for a fine glass of wine is noteworthy to say the least, and she’s certainly not alone.
“I’ll bet if you Google global wine sales, the numbers would astonish you,” said Jim Sautter, President of Sautter’s Markets. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and there’ll come the day, when it goes beyond that.”
“Wine is produced in every state in the Union, even Alaska,” Sautter continued. Sautter keeps a sharp eye on the worldwide wine market, and for good reason.
“We do a lot of different things at Sautter’s Market, but, even with all the variety we provide, wine sales are a significant chunk of our overall sales. And of course, wine lends itself to other things to go with it…steak, cheese and so forth so there are residual effects with each bottle.”
For wine connoisseurs everywhere, wine seems to mix the perfect blend of sight, taste, feel and fragrance, engaging most of the senses with all the right stuff. It can complement the perfect meal in just the right season or serve as a social tool and for some, it’s ingrained in the very culture.
Brad Barricklow Private Collector “experiencing different wine cultures … is interesting and fun,”
“We just got back from Paris…we were there for eight days,” said Dr. Brad Barricklow, a dentist in Sylvania. “You’ll find it on every street corner…Rosé, flowing like royal blood. It’s not white, not red, but a Rosé.”
Barricklow also spent four days in Barcelona, Spain just before his Paris adventure and found the wine culture to be quite different. “It’s funny, in Barcelona, you only find Spanish wines on the shelves. In Paris, as you would guess, nothing but French wines on the shelves, each country specific to its own culture.”
“I would say the biggest impact in the last 10 years or so are the wines coming out of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, South America, as well as the Spanish wines, even the Chilean wines,” Sautter said.
“The quality is excellent and they’re reasonably priced. According to Sautter, what started as a mistake, turned into one of the most successful wine debuts of all time.
“The white Zinfandels had a huge impact when they came around. They took the skins out too soon and it gave the wine a more blush look, rather than deeper red. But people loved it…it caught on and got more people drinking wine and it started out as a mistake.
“From there, people graduated to something dryer…then to the Merlots…that was a buzzword for a long time. Red wines and Rosés are very popular. But everything started as a trend and each trend served its purpose and got people drinking wine who may have never tried it otherwise.”
There’s yet another new trend and it gets right to the heart of it all, literally.
“When the family doctor is telling you to drink two glasses a day for the antioxidants, it’s prompted people into drinking wine who wouldn’t have before,” Sautter said. “I get customers coming in asking me, ‘which wine should I drink for my heart?’ It’s a trend that has helped people graduate to the red wines. The health angle has had a big impact.”
Despite the worldwide invasion from wine producers, the U.S. is still the largest wine consuming nation in the world since 2010. California’s 225 million cases shipped within the U.S. in 2014 represent a 60% share of the U.S. wine market.
Terry Kretz, the district manager for Mainstreet Ventures, which oversees operations at four Toledo-area restaurants–Ciao, Zia’s, Revolution Grille and Real Seafood Company–says there’s not a lot of profit in wine but it provides the perfect complement to the meal.
Terry Kretz Main Street Ventures “I love a rich Cabernet Sauvignon”
“Of all the beverages, wine is the least gross margin but nothing enhances the meal more, much more so than liquor, pop or beer,” Kretz said.
“Wine’s not cheap and you can only pass so much on to the consumer. But in fine dining, especially Italian, it’s critical to have the right wine available to pair up with the right meal. Whatever we order, we move, and of course it depends on the season as to what we purchase. In the warmer months, especially when it’s hot outside, we sell more white wines…something lighter, crisper. In the winter, just the opposite…people want a heavier, red wine.
“It makes a difference in what they’re eating too. We sell a lot more reds with steak, and more white with seafood or olive oil style pastas. Italian foods bring a lot of the reds.
“What we’ve noticed at the Revolution Grille…one that’s coming back is Malbec, an Argentinean wine.”
Known for its plump dark fruit flavors and smoky finish, Malbec wine offers a great alternative to higher priced Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The main fruit flavors in a glass of Argentinean Malbec are blackberry, plum and black cherry. That is, unless the Malbec is produced in France where it’s often described as “leathery with flavors of tart currant, black plum and savory bitterness often described as green.” French Malbecs have higher acidity which attributes to flavors described as black pepper and spice.
Joe Mosier The Anderson’s “ The screw on wine cap no longer means it is a cheap wine”
“One of the most popular red wine grapes are the Malbecs coming out of Argentina. The Chilean wines have really turned around, especially the reds…the Cabernet Sauvignons, the Merlot, all very nice, and very popular.
There’s a Zweigelt out of Austria that’s wonderful. If you like Pinot Noir, you’ll love the Zweigelt.The Greek wines are becoming very popular…they’re world-class, first-rate and affordable.”
While Mosier agrees that wine offers the perfect fit with food, he says it also serves as a “social lubricant.”
“Visually, it’s beautiful in glass with wonderful aroma outside the glass. It’s so many different things varying from red, white, light, fragrant, crisp, dark, rich…it’s all there and wonderful on the palate. And once you start tasting it, you’ll find out that not one size fits all.
The Andersons Market in Sylvania offers wine tasting every Wednesday night from 6:00 to 8 p.m. Mosier notes that the other Anderson’s locations in Toledo and Maumee also offer wine tasting on specific nights.
“There is more good wine on the market than ever before,” Walt Churchill from Churchill’s Market in Maumee and Perrysburg relates. “Quality, inexpensive wine in the 10-15-20 dollar range. World competition has changed dramatically from the days when France and Italy ruled and many wine snobs are totally shocked with the quality of inexpensive wines today.”
“Now we see so many countries producing, but even with all the imports, it’s amazing how many great wines there are right here in the states. Ohio is certainly well known for wineries, now having more than 200. There is even good wine coming from Ontario.”
Churchill continues “Choosing wine is all about personal preference. Cuisine is changing and more consumers are knowledgeable about wine and the interplay with different foods. No longer is wine just red or white; it’s mood…it’s attitude – it is a myriad of varieties, brands and labels all waiting to be tried.”
Barricklow says that experiencing different wine cultures around the world is interesting and fun, if it’s variety you’re after, then America should very well suit your style. He usually stocks his wine cellar with his favorites.
“The average restaurant in Toledo alone,” Barricklow said, “offers a really nice mix from several countries.
“In summer, when it’s hot, you want a crisp Rosé or a crisp white…to go with the summer foods. Big dark reds for the winter to go with red meats. It’s paired with specific foods.
“Wine is huge here in the states, but I don’t think it’s ingrained in our culture quite like it is in France or Spain. It’s as common as water in Europe. They don’t ask; they just bring out wine glasses…even for the kids. It’s so intertwined in their culture…intertwined in their experience. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”
Jim Cameron Heidelberg Distributing Co. “I like a Chardonnay as a drinking wine and a Cabernet Sauvignon to drink with meals”
“Business is great” Cameron said. “I’d say our growth patterns across Northwest Ohio mirror what the country’s doing, and we’re seeing more and more consumers really paying attention to wine…seeing a lot of growth in the $12.99 to $14.99 range and in the $14.99 to $19.99 range…very affordable.
“The red blends are very popular right now as are Moscato wines and the dry Rosés.”
“What’s interesting to me is how the different regions, where grapes are grown, produce different taste profiles. For instance, a Cabernet from Napa Valley will have a different taste profile than a Cabernet from Sonoma, or Columbia Valley in Washington, or Argentina for that matter. The soil, which varies from region to region, makes all the difference. It’s agriculture.
“Despite all the quality options coming from overseas, Chili, Argentina, all the imports coming from a wide variety of countries these days, based on what we’re selling to retailers, most of the wine consumed in the U.S. is still coming out of California.”