As you some of you may or may not know, I recently spent 10 days back home in good old England. The reason for my visit? Well, it was really more of an obligation than it was a vacation. It’d been a couple of years since I’d been back, and in that time my younger sister had given birth to a bouncing baby girl.
How time flies! We were just playing hide-and-seek last Wednesday…or that’s what it seems like!
Obligations aside, I of course used my time over there as effectively as I know how; and already had a mental list of all the restaurants that I wanted to visit; as well as the unique delicacies that would grace my palate. Culinary delights that you can only find on the small-island of England, (i.e. Fish & Chips, Black Pudding, Pork and Crackling, Bangers & Mash, Yorkshire Pudding, Spotted Dick; the list of delicacies could go on for……well….maybe another few words…).
Truthfully I was never that well-versed in wine when I was living in England. I’d worked in hospitality over there since the age of 15 (I’m 30 now), and somehow managed to navigate the many intricacies of wine, via an age-old method employed in restaurants around the world, commonly referred to as “blinding people with bullsh*t”. It’s not a new technique, and I certainly didn’t invent it!
No matter. Back to the original reason for this post!
It probably comes as no surprise to you that the wine lists in the U.K place a very strong emphasis on European selections. In that respect, it’s nice being able to walk into one of the many large grocery stores, and have multiple-choices of Brunello, Amarone, Port, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rioja (which, for some reason they pronounce Ree-or-KA) lay before you .
However; when it comes to U.S. imports, the selections leave a little to be desired. Ok, that’s maybe a slight-understatement. They’re terrible².
Take the wine list in the photo below for example, which I happened to snap at one of the better wine bars that I stumbled upon, in the nearby bustling metropolitan city of Leeds.
For this particular establishment, Blackstone Merlot, it appears, serves to encompass everything that’s great about U.S. wine: all in a single bottle! Not to pick on Blackstone, but that’s kind-of disappointing!
This isn’t an isolated example. I could have taken any number of photos during my time in England at restaurants large and small, which showed many of the same injustices done to the U.S. wine industry.
Now, from a logistics stand-point, it’s obviously way more cost efficient to bring in wines from the plethora of wine-producing countries in Europe. That could certainly serve as one reason why you don’t see many American brands. But hang-on: Australia and New Zealand are one of the largest wine imports into the U.K.! That kills that argument.
Maybe it’s just that the English hate America and everything that it produces; labeling every one of you as obese-gun-totting-war-mongering-maniacs!?!?
But wait! There’s no problem with French and German selections in restaurants / retailers! Plus, even if that was true (which I promise you it isn’t…well not entirely…), the English can’t stand the French; and let’s not even get started on Germany! As a country, I’m not too sure when Brit’s will stop playing the “WWII card”; but I would probably give it at least another 50 years…
So What’s the Reason for Such a Poor Selection of U.S. Wines in the U.K?
Truth be told, I’m not too sure; and this post could have quite easily have been turned into a much lengthier one if I were to examine the plethora of possible reasons. However in my eyes, I can only blame U.S. wineries themselves. I concede that they can probably see a captive audience of over 307-million people in this country an ample size market, that sending their product overseas seems like a “big hassle”.
That just seems like a short-term business plan to me; and as the economy over the last couple of years has shown, it’s probably not wise to put all your wines in one basket!