I just received word that the Texas Department of Agriculture's wine-marketing folks are celebrating the 1st anniversary of its popular "Winery Passport" promotion with additional incentives for wine travelers.
What's a wine passport, you ask? Here's the deal: Request one (it's a little booklet) online. Then, each time you visit a Texas winery (more than 180 to choose from), write its number down in your passport. You can redeem your passport for wine-related prizes, ranging from a Texas wine journal (4 winery visits) or a corkscrew (16 visits) to full wine-related weekends, complete with private wine tastings, sommelier dinners, and overnight lodging. (The big packages require more than 200 winery visits.)
Seems as though there might be a good money-making opportunity in chauffeured wine excursions. Would it be fun to pile onto a bus or van and tour a group of Texas' almost-200 wineries? Personally, I think this is a great idea.
On another note, this weekend I learned another acceptable "descriptor" used by wine aficionados. I had opened a bottle of grenache-syrah to use in a fancy beef stew, and I poured myself a glass to sample while dinner simmered. While the wine tasted fine, I heard myself say to my dinner guests, "Well, this smells a bit like...old socks."
My friend Kim told me that in wine circles, this aroma is called "barnyard." And it's not necessarily a bad thing.