Sarah on July 5, 2013 2 Comments The novelty of regional wineries should’ve worn off at the turn-of-the-century, but somehow it hasn’t. For a long time, people assumed that all wine created in the United States came from California, Washington, and Oregon. The truth is nearly every state produces wine. The same is true for nearly every country in the world. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding regional wine regardless of where you travel. If you truly want to appreciate regional wines, there are four dirty little secrets you need to understand. 1. You Have to Taste It The simplest secret to understand is that you have to actually taste the wine before you can decide whether or not you like it. This may sound obvious but it is surprising how many people immediately disregard regional wine simply because they had one regional wine they didn’t enjoy. Moreover, you can’t criticize a regional wine if you haven’t tasted it in the past 7 to 10 years because growing practices in regional wineries have significantly evolved. One trip to one winery can’t possibly give you all the information you need about the entire region. 2. Regional Wine Shouldn’t Taste Like Any Other Wine Another reason many people disregard most regional wine is because they expect it to taste like something else. If you buy a wine from Nebraska you shouldn’t expect it to taste like wine from California. The soil in every region is a little bit different, which means the grapes it produces will be different. There is nothing wrong with a wine tasting like the region it is from as long as you enjoy it. 3. California is Not the Standard for Wine in the United States The dirty little secret about American wine is that California is no longer the standard. In fact, if it wasn’t for prohibition there’s a good chance that Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska would still be the leading wine producers in the country. Unfortunately, prohibition forced many of the local wineries out of business. Moreover the top seven regional wine states (not including California, Oregon, and Washington), by number of wineries, is New York, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. While California and the Pacific Northwest will always be considered “wine country” in the United States, that doesn’t mean regional wines should be dismissed if they are from somewhere else. 4. Regional Wines That Aren’t “Traditional” Are Often Preferable If there is one dirty little secret about regional wine you need to know, it is that it’s okay for regional wineries to make wine from grapes that aren’t traditional. California has done an excellent job educating wine consumers about traditional varietals that could be produced in California such as Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfortunately, they simultaneously convince consumers that nontraditional wine is necessarily not as good. The truth is, most regional wines that aren’t traditional will actually taste better than traditional wines because the local soil and climate is better suited to a different type of grape. This problem was demonstrated in Texas for more than a decade as a grower struggled to produce classic grapes because the climate was too hot and dry. As a result, the traditional wine created in Texas wasn’t very good. If you can remember these four dirty little secrets about regional wine, you can significantly increase your enjoyment of regional wines across the country.