My good friend and fellow Rioja lover Adrian Murcia, whose blog Blame it on Rioja (http://www.blameitonrioja.com) is one of my favorites, recently wrote a comment about my post on white Rioja that reminded me of several anecdotes from my time as an export director in Rioja. Every month or so I would call our distributors around the world to get a personal take on shipments and depletions of our brands and because most of our sales were in northern Europe (the UK, Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian markets), a drop in sales of red during the summer was invariably blamed on unusually warm weather, when shipments of white and rosé would spike upwards. This was not usually the case, as summer in northern Europe is generally referred to as “Yes, I remember, last year it was on July 18!” But as soon as the temperature went up, sales of red went down. In perpetually hot climates, the situation is hopeless. Once I was having lunch with our distributor in the Dominican Republic and commented that it was a shame that so little wine was served at the other tables. My distributor, one of the country’s largest rum distillers, said that it was just too hot and humid to drink red wine, a fact that certainly helped sales of his rum! Although my boss was never outwardly too sympathetic about my comments (after all, he was THE BOSS), he undoubtedly understood the problem of drinking red wine in hot weather. As a matter of fact, one of the main reasons why Spain’s per capita wine consumption was never as high as in Italy or France was because from July through September here, it was, and is, just too hot to drink red. White was for wimps, so Spaniards asked for a glass of really cold beer. I admit that I do it myself.
Well, white is no longer for wimps, but sales of red Rioja always slide in the summertime. Given that in our major markets, consumption of white is almost as high as that of red, wouldn’t it be nice if Rioja had a really first class white to sustain sales during the summer months? Fortunately for Rioja in the UK, most of the beer is served at room temperature, so a good crisp white Rioja would be a hit!