Same old…same old

It’s interesting that, at times, what’s new is…old.

One of the more popular greetings used today is “What’s new?” and I would bet even money that most of us have answered that query by saying “Oh, the same old, same old.”

Of course, what we are trying to relay by that “same old” phraseology is that nothing’s new. And again, I would bet even money that there’s something new everyday in our lives but because of habit, being not fully engaged or being too lazy to reply honestly, we simply say “Same old, same old.”

On a recent morning, I met an old friend for coffee and we played the verbal greeting game. “Hey, what’s new? Oh, nothing, same old, same old.” Then we got real and two cups of coffee and an hour later, we were still conversationally engaged about not only the usual (old) but talking about all the new people, discussions and things we had experienced over the past few days. Continuing over a glass of wine, our conversation flowed for quite some time — interesting how there was nothing new, right?

Life is full of things that are vogue, then replaced by something new and eventually, the old arrives again. The world of vinology is filled with stories of a wine being vogue one year, replaced by the new vogue wine and then after a while, the old becomes new again. For example…

A couple of decades ago merlot was the go-to wine for everyone. To be in, one must drink merlot and it was the most popular wine in the country. The early merlot wines were easy to drink, looked good in the glass, had a nice mouth feel and we all thought ourselves as true citizens of the wine world because we could correctly pronounce merlot. The Gallo and Mondavi wineries produced the wine in abundance and life was so good. Then, Zin hit the market and suddenly the new chased away the old.

Zinfandel became a huge hit with wine drinkers and overwhelmingly captured the wine market in the States. It was cool to ask for a “Zin” and calling it that made one feel like they were a knowledgeable and “with it” wine consumer. Zinfandel had more spice than Merlot, it sparkled a bit in the glass and had a larger mouth feel than the merlot. Zin was what’s new and the same old merlot was…out.

And then there were the sparkling rosé wines. They were the weak sister to champagne and the wine’s bubbles were…weak and fizzy looking. And the color of rosé? Again, weak and not very pleasing in the glass and its taste was less than appealing.

So, what’s new in the wine world? Guess…

Merlot is making a huge comeback for a number of reasons. First, it’s a good wine and very easy to drink with light tannins and refreshing light fruitiness. Secondly, the merlot vines are mature and are producing a lot of quality grapes — grapes the vintner doesn’t have to mess with to achieve a true merlot taste. If you compared a bottle of merlot from 20 years ago to a current bottle of the wine, you would notice the color of today’s merlot is richer, the taste is fuller (but still soft) and the finish is so quiet — it melts into your throat. Welcome back, merlot!

Right beside merlot’s comeback, we still have the beautiful Zinfandel that satisfies so many of us. But, today’s Zin is not yesterday’s Zin. Like merlot, the vines of the Zinfandel grape have matured and they are producing full bodied, nicely fruited wines with a long spicy finish.

One of my favorite wines is a sparkling rosé and again, it’s because of maturing vines, the consuming public is requesting better rosé wines and the winemakers are becoming very expert at their craft. No matter the time of the year today’s sparkling rosé is a good buy, looks beautiful, tastes spectacularly and those rising bubbles just can’t resist tickling your nose!

So, what’s new? Well, it seems it’s the old but it’s not the same old. Certain wines come and go but the good ones remain — kind of like people, right?

Next week, let’s go on a road trip.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon.