In the 1986 film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Bueller preached wisely to the audience when he turned to the camera and said: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Amid the current economic turmoil, these words may have more meaning today than when the movie was released.
Hunkering down has its place, but so does smelling the roses when they are in bloom … and tasting fine wine in prime condition. And now more than ever is the time to taste the wine. Here's why:
Relative peace between major winemaking nations and open sharing of modern viticulture practices have led to consistently higher-quality grapes. Quite simply, good wine comes from good fruit.
Winemakers also are working multiple harvests each year. After Southern Hemisphere crops are brought in and put to barrel, winemakers head north of the equator to work a second harvest. The international sharing of ideas has led to far greater quality across the board.
Port, among other fortified wines, was originally created out of necessity, as standard still wine made in Portugal would spoil on the lengthy shipping routes to England. Winemakers began to fortify the wine with brandy so as to stabilize it for the journey. Eventually, the style held, and we now recognize port as one of the world's most important wines.
Today, not only is wine heat and cold stabilized before shipping, but shipping is far more efficient than in the past. These improvements allow wines to arrive at a destination in far better condition.
Large retailers dominating sales
When it comes to wine retailers, bigger is better - at least when it comes to price.
Beverages & More, Costco and major grocery chains are all selling more wine than ever. In fact, Costco is the single largest retailer of fine wine in the United States. According to Wine & Spirits Daily, Costco wine sales approached $1.15 billion in 2008.
According to the Wine Market Council, a nonprofit wine industry organization, the United States is currently the second-highest overall consumer of wine in the world and is poised to overtake Italy's top spot sometime in 2010.
Producers from all corners of the Earth realize the incredible potential of the U.S. wine market and are finding inroads with nifty styles of both the familiar and foreign, and at low prices to tempt new customers in an uncertain economy.
Malbec grown in the Mendoza region of Argentina is a perfect example of an import providing a change of pace from California cabernet sauvignon, while maintaining internationally high standards of quality. Excellent versions are usually available at Costco for less than $15.
Before World War II, German Riesling was the most prized and expensive wine in the world. Today, it is still among the world's best white wines, and is certainly one of the easiest to pair with food. Mind-blowing Rieslings can now be had locally for less than $20 from a German wine specialty shop, Truly Fine Wine (
San Diego's own Fallbrook Winery currently offers its 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Monterey. This $14 bottle won gold and more at two major international wine competitions earlier in the year. It can be bought at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center or at the winery. Visit
for more information.
California produces more than 90 percent of all wine made in the U.S. and is the fourth-largest producer worldwide behind Italy, France and Spain. Three out of four bottles sold in this country are from the Golden State.