50 American Wines

by Matt on August 28, 2008


“Joel Stein set out to taste one wine from all 50 states — a patriotic
experiment to see if good wine can really be made anywhere.”


American wines

Last month I had the pleasure of working with Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine columnist Joel Stein for a story on 50 American wines. He ordered wine from each of the 50 states, and yes, I immediately asked the same question that is forming in your head right now: they make wine in each of the 50 states? Really?

Yes, yes they do.

I didn’t get to taste any of them, I was only there to shoot the bottles for this feature. And honey, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Wine bottles are tricky — especially when you are instructed by the big wigs to show them with minimal glare. And there are 50 of ‘em! And you cannot drink any of them! Tears, tears I cried!

I haven’t read the story and I’m about to hop on over to Time.com to check it out. I’m reserving my thoughts of the design of each wine label as they relate to their geographic origin for a few close select friends. Just like the wine inside the bottle, the artwork was literally all over the map. Get it? All over the map? I’ll stop now.

Oh, And Confidential To One Single State:  If your goal was to create the wine-bottle label equivalent of a 1974 Canary Yellow Shag-Carpeted Van filled with Pot Smoke and Peter Frampton, by golly, you succeeded!

Joel Stein and the 50 Wines here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil August 28, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Big Time shoot! ;)
Best writeup is about the Cape Cod wine: “If an old lady were to make wine at her bed-and-breakfast and the only ingredients she had to work with were sugar and paint thinner, she’d make this wine.”

Neil August 28, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Oh wait, Indiana is better: “The first comment from the wine-tasting party that wasn’t a cry of excruciating pain was, ‘I feel it in my colon.’ This wine hurt my ears.”

Linda B August 28, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Just because every state CAN make wine doesn’t mean they SHOULD. Case in point: Florida (where I live). The climate here is not the least bit conducive to growing good wine grapes. It’s too hot and humid most of the year and the wines are pretty much awful. I may be biased from having owned a wine store and tasted some really phenomenal wines, but that’s my two cents worth :-D

Toni August 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm

OK, I desperately need to know which bottle is the 1974 etc etc.

I’m voting for Utah – but Indiana runs a pretty close second.

Matt's Kitchen August 29, 2008 at 5:23 am

Now these are the kind of jobs I want to have. Sampling wines from across the nation. Even if some of them taste like cat pee there have to be some good ones, too.

Your photos accentuated the sensuous curve of the bottles. You made the glass appear soft and satiny rather than hard and glassy.

There’s a winery just a few miles from the suburban school where I teach in Illinois that makes some pretty decent stuff. I love the Lynfred Christmas wine that’s kind of like a mulled, spiced drink meant to be served warmed.

Matt's Kitchen August 29, 2008 at 5:23 am

Now these are the kind of jobs I want to have. Sampling wines from across the nation. Even if some of them taste like cat pee there have to be some good ones, too.

Your photos accentuated the sensuous curve of the bottles. You made the glass appear soft and satiny rather than hard and glassy.

There’s a winery just a few miles from the suburban school where I teach in Illinois that makes some pretty decent stuff. I love the Lynfred Christmas wine that’s kind of like a mulled, spiced drink meant to be served warmed.

Matt's Kitchen August 29, 2008 at 5:23 am

Now these are the kind of jobs I want to have. Sampling wines from across the nation. Even if some of them taste like cat pee there have to be some good ones, too.

Your photos accentuated the sensuous curve of the bottles. You made the glass appear soft and satiny rather than hard and glassy.

There’s a winery just a few miles from the suburban school where I teach in Illinois that makes some pretty decent stuff. I love the Lynfred Christmas wine that’s kind of like a mulled, spiced drink meant to be served warmed.

meg August 29, 2008 at 6:35 am

Oh, that’s pretty, Mo.

Food Woolf August 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

That was one of the funniest wine reviews I’ve ever read. Suddenly I’m hide-my-head-under-a-blanket embarrassed that I’m from Massachusetts. But then, I could be from Wyoming…

Brooke

Moriah August 29, 2008 at 7:09 pm

This is hilarious! I usually feel a twinge of nationalistic guilt when I hear about a bad American wine (blame it on US History class in grade school), but I was genuinely delighted to read these reviews. And the photography is pretty delightful, too.

So are you going to tell us which was the shag-carpeted van bottle? I’m thinking it was Wyoming, but it’s a tough call. Most of them look like they were designed by the same program I used to make greeting cards for my grandmother in 1997.

Teri Lyn Fisher August 29, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Yea!! These look great!!

Sarah in GA August 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

Hello from Atlanta!

Just got an excited phone call from a little birdie who tells me you’re at J&T’s shooting a raw turkey :) She also reports you’re every bit as charming & delicious in person as you are online… so sorry I couldn’t be there, can’t wait to come visit & say hello. Until then, take good care of my LA friends for me!

Hannah August 31, 2008 at 1:25 am

Happy Blog Day! I’ve written about your blog here: http://printerpiemaker.blogspot.com/2008/08/blog-day.html

bj August 31, 2008 at 3:17 pm

I loved that article, and the pictures of bottles of wine are great, too. But, I really want to know which wine label is the “1974 Canary Yellow Shag-Carpeted Van filled with Pot Smoke and Peter Frampton

jai carney September 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

can’t tell which label resembles my teenage years. How about another hint

Erin September 14, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Sheesh, I LIVE in Bloomington, Indiana, and I’ve never heard of the winery chosen for the article!

That’s not to say, of course, that the other wineries around here are any better… We do much better with beer.

Leave a Comment