For those of us in the wine trade who work in and around New York City, this is the Golden Age of Wine.
Think of New York as some grand Middle Eastern marketplace – a bazaar, a souk – with all the clamor and excitement of ancient times but pulsing with modern technology. Sommeliers roam the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn like anointed princesses and princes, crafty wine merchants with decades-old roots in the business have learned the power of the internet and social media from their younger assistants and interns, and wine and food bloggers by the dozens cry out for attention like newsboys shouting headlines a century ago when the city had a score of competing daily newspapers – which ones have insight, which ones are selling only sizzle? Wine writers like myself are invited to lunches, dinners, tastings, master classes like members of the diplomatic corps, representing this or that emerging – or declining – journalistic power.
But the real excitement is in the visiting caravans of producers, arriving daily not on camels or donkeys but on the backs of trans-Atlantic jets, usually somewhat late as befits their stations. We can barely keep them straight, and it’s impossible to catch up with all of them – last week, the kings and queens of Bordeaux and the explorers of Portugal, this week the merchants of Italy and travelers from far-away New Zealand.
Those journalists who live in the city can attend one, two or three events daily, if they want, trying to figure out a time to write and sleep. The issues of the day are debated – styles, authenticity, what the public wants and what we want them to want, price points.
Then, time for a last sip, put the tasting journal away, say my goodbyes and then retreat.
Amtrak is hardly a magic carpet – there the analogy ends – but it does take me into the city then back into the countryside until another visiting caravan beckons.