Tag Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

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2,500 posts and free wine glasses

free wine glassesLast week, between preparing for my El Centro class, working on a couple of free-lance pieces, and overseeing the Wine Curmudgeon empire’s day-to-day operations, I didn’t notice that the blog ran its 2,500th post. Which, if it doesn’t make me Ty Cobb, puts me in Hall of Fame company. And since I believe in rewarding the people who have kept this thing going for 2,500 posts — you, the readers and visitors — it’s time for free wine glasses.

Yes, a wine glass giveaway — four Lori Dennis Home Unbreakable Wine Glasses, stemless and made with premium acrylic to work like glass. That means they won’t shatter, stain, or or dull; they’re heavy in the hand like glass; shatterproof, because they’re plastic; and easy to clean (top shelf dishwasher safe). Plus, says Dennis, a portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Habitat for Humanity.

The usual contest rules apply. That means pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post to wine the free wine glasses. You can ?t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post ? no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won ?t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this exact post on the website to enter (click this link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I ?ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the free wine glasses.

Finally, you’ll see several changes to the blog over the next week or so — updating its look, making it more mobile friendly, and faster loading times. The site should still be just as easy to use, but a little more 21st century in how it works. Many thanks to Kermit Woodall of Woodall Design for his patience and perseverance through this process, given all the hand holding he had to do.

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Cheap wine: What do I expect?

cheap wineA visitor left a comment the other day in the first $3 wine challenge post: “Hey, it cost less than $3. So what did you expect?” Hence this post, because even though a cheap wine doesn’t cost much, that doesn’t mean it has to taste cheap:

? Varietal correctness. Cabernet sauvignon should taste like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay like chardonnay, and so forth. Otherwise, what’s the point? Should we just have two gigantic Big Wine vats, one red and one white, and everything can come out of that?

? Value for money. No, a $3 wine isn’t going to taste like a $100 wine, and I don’t expect it to. I do expect it to offer value and to be the best $3 wine it can be. Otherwise, what’s the point? If we just want cheap crap to get drunk on, then we can drink Thunderbird and Night Train.

? An honest effort from the producer. The wine business’ cynicism is what keeps wine from being more popular in this country, and too much cheap wine proves that point. Producers make junk like the $3 challenge wines, or this wine club plonk, because they’ve taught Americans — like the man who left the comment — not to expect anything better. Or, even worse, the wine business knows most wine drinkers don’t know any better, think the $3 swill is OK because it costs $3, and are too confused to figure out what’s going on.

All of which is a horrible way to sell anything, and especially horrible for something that’s as much as fun as wine. Can you imagine what would happen if the car business worked that way? Which, as it happens, the car business once did, and the result was the very flammable Ford Pinto. One day, perhaps, the wine business can give us cheap wine as satisfying as today’s cheap cars (like my much beloved Honda Fit).

Until then, I’ll keep expecting more than they want to give us.

NFL

Once more into the Super Bowl breach

super bowlOne of the biggest shocks in the 8 1/2 year history of the blog is that Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day for visitors every year. It’s worse than Christmas and New Year’s, both of which are actually pretty good days for traffic.

The Wine Curmudgeon does not know why this is, but I do know that it annoys the hell out of me. I am an ex-sportswriter who was so worn out by pro sports that the only thing I still pay attention to is baseball and my Chicago Cubs, and one can argue that the Cubs are not sports or very professional.

So the country’s obsession with the Super Bowl leaves me at a loss. I haven’t watched the game since 1986, which is more or less the last time I got paid to watch it.

Nevertheless, because so many of you do care, I offer you this wine story about the Super Bowl from the New York Times — “Wine Here! A Football Bud Gets Competition,” which includes a cartoon as badly conceived as that headline and this truly dreadful lede: “Beer and football may go together like wine and cheese. But lately more and more people seem be favoring a Bordeaux over a Bud Light.”

Which would have made me rise from the copy desk, pica pole in hand, to chase down the offending reporter (if my pal Johnny D. Boggs hadn’t already forcefully reprimanded the miscreant).

The point of all this is that since the game is being played in suburban San Francisco, which is in wine country, there must be a wine angle to the Super Bowl (even if Bordeaux is a French wine region). To the reporter’s credit, he quotes an expert, some former NFL types, and a wine person or two. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the story any more interesting, and it’s way too long, but if you’re on deadline and the composing room is screaming for the copy, you spell check it, slap a headline on it, and hope for the best.

Right, Johnny?

wine news

Bogle wins 2015 cheap wine poll

cheap wine poll 2015

Bogle wins the cheap wine poll for the second time in three years.

And it wasn’t even close, with Bogle more than doubling second place Falesco Vitiano to win the 2015 cheap wine poll. This is Bogle’s second consecutive victory, and its second in the poll’s three-year history.

That Bogle did so well again speaks to not only the company’s commitment to quality, but to its availability. Bogle combines value with a huge retail presence — as one commenter wrote, “it may be the best wine one can buy in gas stations in Mineola, Texas, as well as Princeton, Maine.” Most cheap wines do only one or the other, and some don’t even do that.

Which, apparently, is the case with Two-buck Chuck. The Trader Joe’s brand has finished last every year, but I guess that it has sold more 600 million cases over the past decade is some consolation to the retailer.

The biggest surprise? That Barefoot did so poorly, finishing seventh after coming in second last year. In addition, given how many people Google sends to the blog to read about Barefoot, that the brand didn’t pick up any of those votes this year makes its performance even more shocking. Barefoot overload, perhaps?

Not surprising? That Yellow Tail and Cupcake finished eighth and ninth. I added them this year not because I thought they would do well, but to include more well-known brands. That they did so poorly speaks to why they sell — the former is cheap, and the latter is cute. Quality doesn’t have much to do with it.

This year’s results are below, and you can find the 2014 and 2013 polls here and here. The 2016 poll will return next year at this time, and I’ll include a couple of suggestions from the comments. And is it time to retire Bogle and let someone else win?
Business Lists on Ranker

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The 2015 Curmudgies

2015 curmudgiesWelcome to the 2015 Curmudgies, the fourth time we’ve given the awards to the people and institutions that did their best over the previous 12 months to make sure wine remained confusing, difficult to understand, and reserved for only the haughtiest among us. This year ?s winners:

? Worst news release: Another banner year for releases that insulted my intelligence, committed any number of grammatical errors, and did nothing to promote the product. The winner is 24-Group PR & Marketing for a release for Three Hunters Vodka, which included this foolishness (and a hat tip to my pal Tim McNally, who sent it my way): “We live in a time when some of the most important choices we make come prepackaged and predetermined by companies who know nothing about us. The decisions we make about the things we put in our bodies are constantly manipulated by clever and misleading advertising, and misconceptions about nutrition and health.” Why would anyone write that about vodka? Also, it is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

? The regional wine award, or the more things change, the more they stay the same: To every restaurant in Dallas, and there are too many to list here, that doesn’t carry Texas wine. This is a disgrace given the improved quality and availability of Texas wine in the second decade of the 21st century, and speaks to the restaurant wine mentality that makes wine drinkers crazy. If Lucia can find a Texas wine to include on its otherwise all Italian list, so can the rest of you.

? The three-tier system is our friend award: To the 200 Minnesota cities that, thanks to one of the oddest state liquor laws in the country, operate their own liquor stores. As the Star-Tribune newspaper reports in a solid piece of journalism, “In 2014, 34 Minnesota cities, all outstate, lost a total of $480,000 on their liquor outlets ? money they had to backfill from their own coffers. Another 60 outstate cities saw sales drop from the previous year.” Given how much trouble so many cities, big and small, have doing basics like police and fire protection and garbage pickup, that some want to run liquor stores is mind boggling.

? The Wine Spectator will always be the Wine Spectator: For James Laube’s February 2015 blog post, which included this: “If you want to save more and waste less [on wine], consider how much money you spend on wine that you don’t drink, and how many bottles of wine you opened last year that should have been opened sooner.” Wine that we don’t drink, huh? Wine that we let sit in the cellar too long? Wish I had those problems. That one of the Spectator’s top columnists wrote about it speaks to how little the magazine has to do with how almost all of us drink wine.

? Would someone please listen to this person? The positive Curmudgie, given to someone who advances the cause of wine sensibility despite all of the obstacles in their way. The winner this year is Forbes’ Cathy Huyghe, who spent the month of November writing about the wine that most of us drink, and not what Forbes’ one percenters drink. “…[I]t has turned out to be one of the most eye-opening projects I ?ve ever done. … The longer I ?m a wine writer, the further away it ?s possible to get from the wines that most people drink.”

For more Curmudgies
? The 2014 Curmudgies
? The 2013 Curmudgies
? The 2012 Curmudgies

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Friday birthday week giveaway: 2 copies of the cheap wine book

cheap wine bookfridayrandomAnd the winner is: CBC Mike, who selected 222; the winning number was 248 (screen shot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated. This was a record-setting birthday week, and I am most grateful.


 

Today, to celebrate the blog’s eighth anniversary, we’re giving away two autographed copies of the cheap wine book. This is the last birthday week giveaway. Thanks to everyone who participated. Few things make me as happy as giving the prizes away during birthday week. Your enthusiasm reminds me why I do this.

Complete contest rules are here. Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post. You can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post — no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this post on the website to enter (click the link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the gift pack.

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Thursday birthday week giveaway: A VinGardeValise

vingardevalisethursdayrandomAnd the winner is: Pat Valas, who selected 602; the winning number was 611 (screen shot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated. Tomorrow’s giveaway, the final for birthday week, are two copies of the cheap wine book.


Today, to celebrate the blog’s eighth anniversary, the prize is a VinGardeValise, the ultimate wine bottle suitcase (and many thanks to VinGarde, a long-time pal of the blog) This is the fourth of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post. You can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post — no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this post on the website to enter (click the link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the gift pack.