Well I am back in the wine business.  Not as financially rewarding as selling Florida property to Europeans but much more fun.  In fact the most striking feature of the wine business is that everyone in it loves his work - from growers, to producers, to traders, to wine lovers everywhere.  It has certainly been the most fun for me and I speak of having worked in government (ah, the life of a diplomat), women’s clothing (nothing quite like attending fashion shows in Paris), sea food (”fishy” business?), public relations (great sense of power over the public), international trade (my home turf), currency trading (only for those with nerves of steel), and more. 

This time I am working with a winery in Portugal owned by a Spanish family who produce very fine wines using the “chateau” process.  We will be introducing the wines to the US market at the Miami International Wine Fair next week, Oct 15-16.  This is perhaps the largest wine show in the USA.  Why Miami?  For starters Florida is the second largest wine market in the USA after California and the US is the largest wine market in the world.  Moreover, beside the domestic trade, the show draws visitors from all over Latin America.

And why Portuguese wine?   The trick in any business is to understand the trends and identify the products and services that feed the trends.   I learned this summer that Portuguese wines are the hot new items in the most sophisticated European markets.  So on to bringing them to the attention of the US market which is almost virgin territory for these new wines.

The US should not be new to Portuguese wines.  The Founding Fathers toasted the signing of the Declaration of Independence with Portuguese wine from Madeira an island in the Atlantic known for its sweet wines.  Port wine has always been a popular dessert wine.  And who of a certain age can forget the clay bottles of Lancers rose and round bottles of Mateus rose that moved a whole generation of Americans from drinking soda pop to drinking this fizzy, slightly sweet rose wine?

In fact I am betting that the generation of Lancers and Mateus drinkers will remember those happy times when looking at our new selection of fine wines from Portugal.  Always try to get your product identified with pleasant memories.  

I mentioned “chateau” process.   Most wine is made by squeezing the grapes to extract the juice or must.  In the “chateau” process, so named because it is how the very expensive chateau wines from France are made, the whole crushed, but not squeezed, grape is thrown into the fermentation vat where the grapes are made to circulate from bottom to top which means  they press themselves on the way down the vat.   By making wines this way the color of the grape determines the color of the wine.  You see, when you press or squeeze grapes, no matter what the color, the juice comes out a pale yellow which we call “white” wine.  To make the wine red we must put the skins of the grapes back into the fermented juice in a process called “maceration.”  In sum, the “chateau” process produces a more “legitimate” product that hews closer to the original grape.

 But enough for now.  More on production and, more importantly, consumption later.