As with anything in life, the wine business commonly has misconceptions regarding certain aspects of the industry. As Texas wine continues to flourish in all its glory, I often get comments or questions from tasting room guests and wine consumers which I am always happy to listen to and answer if needed. I decided to compile a list of several questions or comments I often hear, and I will answer them in an attempt to clear the air, so to speak, to the best of my ability.
Q: Why don’t Texas wines age?
A: Texas wines definitely can age! I have seen bottles that only last a few years, but have also consumed a handful that have aged quite beautifully over a few decades. The quality of the vintage as a whole, mixed with the specific grape variety, along with several other factors including tannins, total acidity, and pH can all play a part in why certain wines can age better than others. Texas wines can indeed age for many years, if not decades, if all the important factors from the vineyard to bottling are met.
Q: Texas is too hot to grow wine grapes, right?
A: Nope! The sweltering Texas heat is actually a good thing in many regards. The intense sunlight and warm temperatures allow the grapes to ripen properly, and the skins can become thicker and the wine more intense when you mix high quality UV light, and limited irrigation and fruit yields. Overall, the Texas wine industry is now banking our future on warm weather grapes that prefer to soak up the intense Lone Star sun.
Q: They grow grapes in Lubbock? Isn’t it too dry in west Texas?
A: Yes, they do grow grapes in Lubbock, and it is indeed dry in west Texas, which is part of what makes the area suitable for growing quality fruit. The Texas High Plains now accounts for approximately 85% of the wine grapes grown in Texas. Lubbock, Meadow, Brownfield, Plains, and many other Texas towns are the backbone of our industry. Without our wonderful High Plains grape growers, we simply would not be where we are today in the Texas wine industry.
Q: I cannot drink red wine because it’s the sulfites that give me headaches, right?
A: Actually, this is false. Wine headaches are a real thing that can be due to a multitude of reasons. The common causes of the dreaded “wine headache” could be histamine intolerance, tannin sensitivity, or even a bad hangover from drinking too much wine. Sulfites can cause airway issues, as well as gastrointestinal upset for certain people who have a sulfite sensitivity. I am no doctor nor do I claim to be, so you may want to consult your physician if you think you might be having an adverse reaction to wine. For the full story on sulfites in wine, read the article I wrote a couple years ago on the subject.
Q: I mainly drink Napa Cab. Why do I keep seeing Tempranillo and a bunch of grapes I cannot pronounce in Texas when all I want is a Cab?
A: Well, you can find very high quality Cabernet Sauvignon in Texas if you know where to look. However, as stated in an earlier response, Texas has been really gearing up to be a state known for warm weather grapes. This is why you see so many grapes originally from Europe you may not have heard of before, such as Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne, Vermentino, etc. This is a good thing for our state, embracing what will truly grow well here. If you are ever confused about a particular wine or grape, never be embarrassed to ask the wine salesperson, sommelier, or tasting room guide for the answers you are seeking. Knowledge is power, and the only way to learn sometimes is to ask.
Well, there you have it my wine friends, a quick look at a few commonly asked questions or misconceptions about Texas wine.
Keep sipping on the Texas juice!
Paul Bonarrigo says
The Answers are Right On!
Karen Johnson says
Excellent article , Jeremy. I’ve heard all of those comments/questions many times. Your responses are way better than mine.
Thank you, Karen! I am sure your responses were always spot on. 🙂
Randy Hester says
Yeah ditto on the good job and answering these all too common questions. You have written some excellent base knowledge points here that everyone needs to know. The more educated our Texas wine consumers become on the subject of wine, the more advanced our industry will become as a whole. Thank goodness we are trending towards better fruit as well as better winemaking, and the people who support Texas wines are embracing that evolution. We CAN grow fruit and produce wines as well as any region on the planet, and probably better than most, which we will see as we continue to mature. But if our customer base doesn’t have an accelerated understanding of the ins and outs of producing wine here we will remain a regional novelty instead of the recognized and distinguished wine region that we should be on the world stage.
Thank you for the work that you do for our little budding industry. It is very important to us all.
Jeff Cope says
Good comment Randy. We’ll continue to educate the consumers.
John Bratcher says
Good information. One comment I’d add about why the High Plains is such a good area is the temperature swing between daytime high and night time low, usually about 30 degrees and it cools quickly after sunset. Moisture forms during the night but dries very quickly each morning so mildew problems are not common. The hot days/cool nights coupled with sandy soil and low humidity make the area ideal for the warm climate Mediterranean varieties you mentioned – French Rhone, Italian & Spanish.
Jeff Cope says
Thanks John. That diurnal temperature variation is very important for quality grapes.
I get Migraines and BELIEVE me, we cannot drink Red Wine. Period. It’s a huge trigger for Migraines
Jeff Cope says
Sorry to hear that, but as the post said, most likely it is not sulfites in the red wine. That is usually what gets blamed. Here’s to some great white wines for you!