Admittedly, many of us don’t know much about wine.
It’s probably why the annual installment of Philly Wine Week is such a must attend event for scores of people – from novices to aficionados – throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region. This year, PWW runs March 22-29 with its annual Opening Cork scheduled to pop off at the 23rd St. Armory, but due to weather has now been moved to Vie (600 N. Broad St.) showcasing reds, whites and sparklings from all over the world – in one room.
In addition to some frequently asked questions, we asked three aficionados to tell us what we should look forward to, suggest some wines based on personality – and add what types of wines those same personalities would most likely drink.
Made for a fun one...
Sande Friedman, food and beverage buyer | Di Bruno Bros.
What type of wine would an old school, blue collar Philadelphian most enjoy?
[Laughs], I don’t know why but the first thing that comes to mind is someone from South Philly drinking some really classic, old school Italian wine that’s been available for like decades. Like some really good Sunday gravy wine and anything in the range of like a general Tuscan wine from Central Italy to a really nice Chianti. You know, generally the wine that comes in like a wicker basket. Anything from Italy, really. Ooh, perhaps a nice Brunello too or Pinot [Grigio]. Definitely a wine that is a couple years old, with a lot of flavor, dating in the $20-$30 range.
How about the struggling graduate student?
When I was a graduate student, I never wanted anything that really looked cheap, so I would instead look for something that had a cool story to it, so if I had the seed money, I’d go for a really good natural boxed wine. But the wine enthusiast in me now knows that there are these really good boxed wines called From the Tank, which are imported by an artisan seller...I would buy one of those because it’s also 3 liters, so it’s not going to perish as fast, so it’s perfect when you are crying over all your workload, you’ll have plenty of wine that’ll stay pretty fresh right there. Also, Rose from an older vintage. [Laughs], Rose always makes me feel better about life, so I’d imagine it’d do the same for a lot of other people. Also, there are some awesome places that do draft wines which are generally less costly but still pack a lot of body.
What about people who are really into drinking really great organic wines?
You mean like the type of wine I buy? I will go to extreme lengths to find wines that are brought in by importers that specialize in natural wines. A lot of winemakers want to boast that they have natural wines, but there are certain producers and importers that have been bringing them in for decades and are known for making wines they stand by. I like to turn the bottles around and [on the label] look for any wines that are produced by David Bowler or MFW. If I see names like that on the back I know I’m getting a good wine.
Scott Schroeder, chef and co-owner | The Hungry Pigeon
What kind of wine would you say a struggling student would drink?
Oh, well it’s all about getting something good for the value. If I had to make a suggestion it would definitely be to go after the higher end boxed wines. There are some really good ones out there like Archer Roose which makes a really good cabernet sauvignon. But let’s be real, if you’re a struggling student, you’re probably just going to go after the first Bota Box you see.
Wine of choice for the hipsters out there?
[Laughs], Hipsters drink wine? I thought it was all Pabst Blue Ribbon or Miller High Life in those circles. Whatever gets paired with cheap whiskey now. At least, we as Philadelphians like to keep it local so it’s probably like a Kensinger or something like that. I don’t know man, that’s a tough one to answer.
Last one, old school Philadelphians…
Chianti. For sure. All class. Some sort of wine out of a basket. We’re blue collar folks, so when we look to enjoy it’s the pricer Italian wines, for sure.
Hai Tran, beverage director | Rittenhouse Hotel
What kind of wines are you interested in if you’re balling on a budget?
It’s all about a quality to price ratio. So, I usually think about anything good that comes in a 1 liter bottle. The region that come to mind that make really good wine that comes in a 1 liter is Austria; like a Gruner Veltliner made by Berger. Also, another good region is Chile which make some really great 1 liter varieties in the wines they’re most known for. It’s a bit classier than you know, a boxed wine whenever you show up with a bottle.
What about the organic wine drinker?
I just got back from a trip to New Zealand and I have to say they produce possibly the world’s largest amount per volume of [wine from] organic or sustainably farmed vineyards. So concentrating on wines beyond this whole new natural wine movement, taking a look at what many wineries from New Zealand are doing is really eye opening. They’re doing some amazing things in their vineyards. This may sound basic to say, but like a Marlborough sauvignon blanc showcases sustainability of New Zealand, or a pinot noir from the Otago region. Some of these wine growers are actually some of our sponsors for Philly Wine Week, so people interested in sustainable wines should really check that out during some of the events we’ll have.
Is there a misconception that the pricier the bottle the better it is, but knowing what you do, is that really still the case? Is there a large number of wines out there that come with great flavor at a reasonable price point?
I think way back in day, even like 20 years ago, the idea of more expensive wine being the best certainly was true. But we just know so much more about sustainability and agriculture and farming practice when it comes to winemaking now than we did then that we’re able to produce a better quality wine at a lesser price. There are some things that are out of our control, but if you’re willing to go out of what’s already established, you’re still able to find really good wine at a very affordable price. So yeah, I do think that now it’s a myth.