The indefatigable Andrew Hall has struck again, pitting Ohio wines against their Michigan counterparts in a reprise of last year’s groundbreaking Wine Clash. Now, as then, the focus was exclusively on quality, with an array of judges ranging from sophisticated consumers up to Sommeliers, and on local wine, with an unyielding requirement that all wines be produced from grapes grown in-state.
A few things were slightly different this year, however.
For one thing, last year’s broad array of top wines made people wonder which state had won the competition. (Perhaps the proximity of a certain football game had stirred up their rivalrous tendencies?) For another, the number of categories made it difficult to say which wine was the overall winner.
With those points in mind, Mr. Hall set the wines against each other—an evenly-matched set of 11 from each state—and carefully tallied the scores. You can read about the results in an article written by one of the judges. (Next year, Michigan, next year….)
Why do we find this event to be so exciting? (And we do.) Two reasons stand out. The first is that wine is the neglected stepchild of the locavore movement. Even in California, restaurants that compete to see who can source produce and meat from the closest farmers think nothing of having a predominantly European wine list—a discrepancy that locavores have noticed and find more than slightly annoying.
The second reason is that it’s a great example of taste education in action. Wine is an area in which prejudice and social convention trump taste; put simply, people are often afraid to trust their taste buds for fear of looking or sounding like they don’t know what they’re talking about. (This fear is most readily apparent on first dates.) And following social convention with wine generally means gravitating toward France, Italy, California, maybe Argentina or Spain… but not Ohio or Michigan. But wine experts, who do trust their taste buds, are actually a lot more generous than the general public when it comes to the best of Ohio and Michigan wines. If you really want to surprise some of your friends this holiday season, pick any wine off of this list—doesn’t really matter which one—and pour it for them without telling them where it’s from.