Tyler Colman is the man behind Dr. Vino, one of our favorite wine blogs. He's also the author of Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink and A Year of Wine. We checked in with Tyler about his affordable wine recommendations, his favorite places to drink wine in New York, and the hardest food to pair with wine.
What are you drinking these days, Tyler Colman?
I once wrote a book suggesting changing the wine in your glass as the food on your plate changes. But the changes don't have to be traditional. The key is to change what's in your glass and experiment with something new. There's so much diversity in the wine world today it would be a pity not to take advantage of it.
Specifically, though, I have been loving whites such as some 2011 Rieslings of Gunther Steinmetz, the 2010 Auxey-Duresses from Benjamin Leroux, recent vintages of the dry wines from Domaine Huet in Vouvray, the 2011 Chabils from Billaud-Simon, and 2012 Muscadet from Domaine de la Pépière—both irresistible with shellfish.
A few reds I've enjoyed recently include a raft of excellent 2011 Beaujolais from the likes of Foillard, Sunier, Thivin, and Brun. As we move into fall, I love the delicate bitter quality of Italian reds, such as the relative values of Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2010 and Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo 2011.
How did you get into wine in the first place?
My parents weren't really into wine when I was growing up (they are now, however). So it wasn't until I studied in France that I really got exposed to wine and vineyards. Beyond the pleasures in the glass, wine has so many intriguing academic angles and I explored some of those in my Ph.D. dissertation on the political economy of the wine industry in France and the US.
At my dissertation defense party, people were congratulating me calling me Dr. Colman for the first time. Someone suggested I should be called "Dr. Vin" because of my research. But I said that sounded stuffy and suggested "Dr. Vino." Everyone erupted with a toast at that and one of my friends walked over to a computer and bought me the domain name DrVino.com. So then I had a URL, so I built a website and learned to feed the beast that is a blog.
Dr. Vino's been around awhile. How do you feel like the wine blogging scene (and wine media in general) has changed over the years?
All of wine writing appears at a crossroads. Scores out of 100 points don't educate and the subscription newsletter model is only open to a select few. Newspapers have been cutting columns and cutting expenses. Blogs have been challenged by social media sites. It can be a bit chaotic but the resulting whole is a vibrant discussion with diverse participants and points of view. Quite a change from a couple of decades ago when only one or two voices were heard.
On Dr. Vino, you frequently feature 'impossible food pairings.' Have you found any that are truly impossible?
Ha, yes, we have fun with those. Generally, sparkling wine is supremely versatile. But even that can't stand up to bacon doughnuts...
Where do you like to drink wine in New York City? How do you feel like the city's wine scene has changed over the years?
Pearl & Ash, Charlie Bird, Rouge Tomate have all gotten a lot of attention, and justifiably so. Over the past few years, there's been a rise of more concise wine lists as well as wines from more far-flung parts of the wine world or lesser known grapes. Both are good trends though I still pine for the days of more modestly priced Burgundy! Certainly, domestic wines have become more varied and interesting over the past five years too.
Where do you look for value in wine? What producers or regions do you find over-deliver for the price?
Beaujolais and the Loire still offer wines from estates that are reasonably priced. You will always be able to find low-priced wine such as Jumping Rabbit or whatever fanciful name marketers invent. But I find estate wines more rewarding on the whole and prices for those seemingly march inextricably higher every year. So that's where exploring new grapes and places can help maintain interesting wines at certain price points. For example, instead of a champagne for $40, try the (sparkling) Crémant de Jura from Stephane Tissot for $20. Or instead of a $40 Chablis, try Pepiere's Clos des Briords Muscadet for about $18.