A trip to a wine store or a supermarket that carries wine will demonstrate why it is easy to be wary of wines not made from the seven noble grapes. Many of these stores will devote as much shelf space to a single big name varietal - Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon - as they do to the entirety of their non-noble grapes. For the casual wine drinker who may not know any better, they will take this discrepancy as an indication of quality and assume these wines should be avoided.
The problem here is not that these wines are not as good as or even better than their more famous cousins. It is because the wineries that make these wines often lack the financial resources to bring their wines to a global marketplace. Economy of scale prohibits these winemakers from competing against many of the industry's larger players; a winery that puts out five to ten thousand cases a year simply cannot match the financial outlay of a winery that make one hundred times as much wine or more.
Helping to even the playing field is the emergence of wine of the month clubs. Thanks to relaxations in shipping restrictions and the ubiquity of the internet, these small batch wineries can partner with the wine clubs in order to market their wines directly to interested customers. People choose the clubs that they join based on the preferences and flavor profiles. Clubs develop a library that is dedicated to authentic lesser known varietals or wineries of a specific region. If there is a person who is a big fan of Santa Ynez wineries, for instance, they are not going to join a club that focuses exclusively on Italian wines.
In turn, these wine of the month clubs are going to search for the wine makers who best fit their mission statement. In addition to finding wines that are exceptional, they are also going to be looking for those that do not offer distribution beyond their own region. This way, they have the added cache of being able to offer their customers the exclusive opportunities to own these wines.
Just because a wine is limited in quantity does not mean it is lacking in quality. It is only within the last several decades - a small portion of time when you remember that people have been drinking wine for thousands of years - that companies producing more than twenty or thirty thousand cases annually even existed. Do not let the small shelf space full you. There are great wines out there just waiting to be introduced to you, and the right wine of the month club could be your perfect matchmaker.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. http://www.wineclubworld.com