Originally Posted by Mad Cook
The American wines we get here certainly have come on by leaps and bounds in the 40 or so years since they started to appear here (in a carafe-shaped glass container with a foil top! It was cheap but pretty grim).
I tend to stick with European reds as I find that "new world" reds (USA, Chile, Australia, etc.,) give me a headache (Stop laughing at the back. I don't mean I drink too much). Not sure why. A friend says that it's because non-european winemakers use chemicals which European winemakers aren't allowed to use but that seems a bit far-fetched to me.
You're correct, MC. The "new world" has to follow the same rules as the EU in order to sell wine over there (and vice versa) so no unusual additives. Here's a theory: lately histamines have been determined to be the culprit behind wine headaches, and since histamines are produced by yeast, perhaps the yeast strains used here are a factor. I don't know. Just jumping to an unfounded and possibly half-baked conclusion.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it on DC before, but I also serve as an administrator on a UK wine website, and even once had the honor of judging at a UK home wine competition held in West Yorks in 2010.
While there, I asked my British friend if we might go to a shop where I could buy American wine. Not that I had the intention of buying anything; I was really only curious to see what was available. We ended up going to a couple of places in Leeds. I recall visiting a dedicated wine shop, as well as a Tesco. There was some American wine on the shelves at Tesco, but most of what I saw was Blossom Hill, Fetzer, Gallo, and the like. These are all considered very low end brands in the US. Some of the better mass market brands we have - Louis Martini, Beringer, Cline, Rombauer, Ste. Michelle - were not present at all. It was disappointing.
The dedicated wine shop offered a few more upscale selections such as Ravenswood, a mid market brand that makes a decent Zinfandel, and, of all things, Opus One, a Mondavi/Rothschild joint venture at the upper end of the market. Excellent wine, but overpriced in my opinion.
I might be way off base, but I've often wondered if the EU strives to keep all but the lowliest US wines out of the market over there, thus reducing competition with European wines. Likewise, I've observed that many of the Aussie wines sold in the UK are not typically the best they have to offer, either.
Food for thought.