- The Underground Wine Letter - http://www.undergroundwineletter.com -



Third Anniversary

The Underground is now celebrating its 3rd anniversary on line and over 33 years since it first appeared as a print publication. So Happy Anniversary to us!

From the beginning the Underground was focused on the wine consumer. In the first issue (Volume I Number 1 August-September 1979) I wrote a One Winedrinker’s Opinion editorial entitled “The Need for the Underground Wine Letter”. (This article was also posted on line click here [1])

And, the Underground was soon further defined with another One Winedrinker’s Opinion editorial entitled “Why The Underground Wineletter? Are We Terrorists?” which was published in Volume I Number 4 (To read that article click here [2]).

Then shortly after our debut on line “The Underground Is Back!” outlined the history of the Underground. (To read that article click here [3]).

Very early on the Underground cautioned about wine fraud and cited examples. The Underground championed the preference for balanced wines and aging wines to realize the potential of the greatest wines. The Underground pointed out things that we thought were out of line in terms of not providing the best choice for the consumer. These things some times conflicted with what was going on in the industry. An early example of that was a One Wine Drinker’s Opinion editorial entitled “Hokus Pokus Opus” which took issue with how a new Napa Valley wine was being created (This editorial will appear on line later when we get to Volume 5 Number 11 June 1984) There were also articles on the value of wine and making wine an integral part of a meal as opposed to just a beverage to drink. Also, the entire concept of how information was conveyed to consumers was examined. Here an example was the then new 100 point scoring for wine. The Underground view was that wine consumers needed to become more knowledgeable about what wine they like to drink and with what food and not to just blindly follow a number. That was the Underground view then and it still is today.

Now that the new Underground is forging ahead into our 4th year on line, this emphasis is continually being stressed and expanded. But, one thing has not changed. The Underground is today the same as it was then. The Underground represents, first and foremost, the wine consumer.  And, just as there was a void in wine information way back then, today there is another void. But it is not wine information. Today there is a deluge of information about wines. The number of people promoting wines with big numbers is really overwhelming. But, a lot of the hype is truly amusing (to read about that click here [4]).

But, in all the promotion, what is missing is the voice of the wine consumer. Many wines today are very different than the historical norm. Who is talking about this?  Who is talking about the risks of buying old and new wines that are misrepresented or fraudulent?  Who is talking about how wines are being made today? Who is talking about what ingredients are being added to wines? I can tell you one thing, the voice of the wine consumer lives here at the Underground. The Underground is talking about all those things and has been for a long time. And, everything we have ever done will be available here over time. You see, every issue of the old print version of the Underground (something close to 200 issues in total) is being posted here on line in its entirety with no edits. And, with each issue there is an update called Retrospective Review which highlights what was said and how it has turned out over the course of decades. In short, there is nothing to hide. Every card is on the table. This is a mission of the Underground which will continue. We as wine consumers need to be informed and fully understand what we are being told and what we are being sold.

The Underground wine reviews today feature those of legacy producers who are making balanced wines. Also, there are reviews of new wines and new wineries that we believe are following those same principles. Wines reviewed are only wines that we can recommend and drink ourselves. These are wines that we feel are balanced and not overly extracted or manipulated. Wines that do not make that cut are not reviewed. Wine is, after all, a matter of personal taste and I say “Drink what you like and like what you drink” (to read that article click here [5]).

Having said that, the Underground will continue to promote the need for better wine consumer information. This information will include a continued push for ingredient labeling for all wines where every grape variety and ingredient, either natural or artificial, is fully disclosed. Also the Underground will continue to advocate that wine producers and those in the wine trade never stop in the quest to find better ways to protect the consumer from being ripped off by fake bottles. This includes more electronic coding to provide information and identify specific bottles. In short, we are wine consumers and we will continue to speak as such. As wine consumers we have a need, indeed the right, to have better information about the wine we are buying and drinking. The Underground position has long been that wine is a food and should not be treated differently than the manufactured foods we eat. If we can have ingredient labeling telling us what is going into our food, then why can’t we have the same information for the wine we are drinking?  For, no matter what your taste in wine might be, this information will benefit all consumers and producers alike by providing transparency. So welcome to our world. It is the Underground. And pass the Underground along to your friends. In our first 3 years on line nearly 200 articles have been posted.


But, there is still a lot to be done and a lot to learn. I think the great American poet Robert Frost said it best in the last stanza of his poem “Stopping In The Woods On A Snowy Evening”:


In Vino Veritas,Sig

John Tilson