A little more than a month ago I asked readers of this blog and The Sacramento Bee to let me know what my next wine or feature should be. I had five candidate stories, ranging from olive oil to absinthe. The topic that readers said they most would like to read about would be the one I'd pursue. Much to my surprise, they said they'd be most interested in a feature about proprietary blended wines - how they differ from varietal wines (the way wine customarily is labeled and marketed in the United States), why vintners make blended wines at all, whether blends are simply leftover varietal wines tossed in to a vat to get rid of them, which blended wines are the best, and so forth.
The resulting package of stories was published in today's Food&Wine section of The Bee. You can find it here.
I appreciate the questions readers asked, and hope they got answered. I enjoyed their comments about blended wines, and took advantage of their tips, especially the one from Neil Edgar, the Elk Grove resident who 20 years ago, when he was living in the East Bay, came up with the term "meritage" for a class of blended wines based on the traditional grape varieties of Bordeaux.
I think this approach to settling on a story has possibilities, but if I were to do it again I'd do it a bit differently. For one, I'd compress the time between deciding on the topic and getting it in the paper. For another, I'd more often post progress reports to the blog to keep readers up to date on developments. Both of these thoughts are prompted by my belief that more frequent interaction between reporter and reader would spur more helpful interaction. Overall, however, I was pleased by the response from readers, and in concluding want to thank those who participated so generously.