O.K., so there are a million blogs out there touting the latest and greatest wines, or perhaps a winery tour in some exotic location. But have you ever seen a grape juice blog, something along the lines of an A.J. Jacobs guinea pig experiment? Well, now you have. Welcome to my new grape juice blog.
I came up with the idea of blogging about fine grape juices when I’d finished my novel, The Vintage Club, and my publicist said I should do a wine blog. There were two problems with her suggestion. First, I’m not a wine expert and I really have nothing to add to what’s already out there. Second, which trumps the first reason, is that I’m not a drinker.
This inability to sample a good wine at a fine restaurant has long proved problematic. With my travels, I’ve been able to indulge myself at some of the best restaurants in cities like Paris, London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Melbourne. But when the waiter asks me what wine I’ll be drinking, there is always an awkward pause when I say I don’t drink.
The last time I dined at Cityzen restaurant in Washington D.C., I told the maître de that he should quick snickering and find me something I could drink. The next time I returned he said he had saved me a special bottle.
“Really?” I said.
“I found this quaint little winery in Germany who bottles grape juice,” he said.
He returned with a bottle of crimson liquid, and I have to admit it was better than good. I was hooked.
But the problem was that I could never find another restaurant that was willing to do this, and I couldn’t find anyone in Colorado who sold grape juice. The issue came to a head when we decided to have a book launching party for my book. It was a wine and cheese party—without the wine. So, we started looking around for some good grape juices. As I suspected, they are hard to find. Really hard. Yea, you can get some Welch’s and put it in a fancy bottle (we did think of that), but that seemed like cheating. We went to Whole Foods and bought some of their grape juice in a fancy bottle, but it was horrible, like filtered grape jelly. When I looked at the ingredients, I figured out why. It was basically watered-down grape juice concentrate.
But we finally did come across some really great grape juices on the Internet. And so we started ordering them, paying outrageous shipping fees. For our party, we decided on 2013 Pinot Noir Grape Juice from Navarro Vineyards in Napa. Since I don’t have a wine vocabulary, it’s hard for me to describe how it tastes, but my friends who do drink said it tastes pretty much like Pinot Noir, but a little bit sweeter. I admit, it was pretty sweet, but I have a big sweet tooth, so it suited me fine.
In the coming days, I’ll let you know about some of the other bottled grape juices I’ve sampled, along with a few anecdotes. I hope you’ll enjoy.
Oh yea, and the phrase “Blood of the Grape”—it’s part of my book. I dug it out of the depths of the Old Testament. What does it mean? You can discover that if you read The Vintage Club.