Monday, February 3, 2014

Vote for the World's Best 100 Types of Wine

Last week I posted the first draft of a list of the World's Best 100 Types of Wine as a lark. Now I'm going to take it seriously.

I could write my own list of the World's Best 100 Types of Wine, and maybe I will later. But first I wanted to take a poll. What do you, my readers, think?

I like this exercise because, although it requires hard choices, it's also far more diverse and inclusive than what you see from the major wine critics. Hopefully the list we come up with together will inspire people to go out and try great wines of the world that they haven't sampled before.

The poll design, though, was a challenge. Starting with the list Alder Yarrow and I put together in 5 minutes while drinking, adding your comments and suggestions on that blog post, and a few wines we had just plum forgot, I came up with a list of about 175 candidates. I whittled it down to 150 with some choices we might revisit together later. But that's a really unwieldy poll: Here's 150 wines, pick your top 100.

Here's what I did. I broke the 150 wines into 10 groups of 15. I'm going to create 10 polls. In each one, you pick the best 9 wines out of 15. These individual polls are a lot easier to deal with, and more fun too.

I used a random-number generator to assign the wines into groups. As in the World Cup, this created one Group of Death that you will know immediately; a group so strong that I'd be happy just drinking those 15 wines for the rest of my life. The No. 10 wine in that group will be better than the No. 7 wine in some other groups, but that's the way random assignment works. I couldn't figure out a better way to do it. If I could, I'd be making a fortune at Google, not writing a wine blog.

That's why I decided to take only the best 9 from each group. We'll fill 90 spots on the list through these polls. Then we'll fill the remaining 10 spots with a final poll of runners-up and worthy nominees that weren't on the list to begin with. I had to play an editing role to get these polls manageable, but I  want this to be a crowdsourced list.

One tricky issue is, what constitutes a type of wine? Where do we draw the boundaries? I tried to do it by thinking of a wine list. Stags Leap Cabernet is very different from Howell Mountain Cabernet, but most people lump them together as Napa Valley Cabernet. However, Alto Adige Pinot Grigio and Gewurztraminer are not lumped together in most people's minds.

It's wine; most distinctions are arbitrary. I separated Chablis from white Burgundy, but not Saint-Bris, even though it's the one wine in Burgundy made from Sauvignon Blanc and I just had a killer one last week (Domaine Bersan Mont Embrasé 2012). For some regions I lumped things together; in others I separated out grape varieties. I tried to go by how similar they are. One region ended up with 6 entries on the candidate list while some major wines combined the subregions of an entire country, or in one case, two countries.

I regret that the list is unfair to some of the best wines in the US, which doesn't follow appellation groupings like most of the world. Example: Trefethen makes a nice Riesling in Napa Valley, but one wine isn't enough to put Napa Valley Riesling on the list. So be it. Tough decisions have to be made to get to 100, and even though I have been enjoyed Tatomer Santa Barbara County Grüner Veltliner in restaurants all over San Francisco, more significant categories than that will not make the cut.

I want us to have fun with this, so I'm planning to roll out one poll per week for 10 weeks. And to add a little mystery, I'm not going to post a master list of the 150 candidates until the last post is up. You'll just have to wait and see whether your favorite underappreciated wine region makes the cut.

Hopefully you'll enjoy this little exercise and be inspired to try some new wines.

Vote for Group F

See the Group E results

See the Group Dresults

See the Group C results

See the Group B results

See the Group A results

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