• Damn those young people: The panel discussion was probably terrific, featuring some of the smartest people in wine retailing. But the report of the event highlighted just how bewildering wine drinkers who aren’t Baby Boomers remain to those who sell wine. One of the lines in the story read: Retailers are having a difficult time understanding “the fickle tastes of younger consumers.” Which is winespeak for “Why don’t younger consumers drink the same wine that the Boomers do, and pick those wines by scores like the Boomers do?” Because that’s what the wine business is set up for, and why should it change for the people who buy the wine?
• Bug infestation: The glassy-winged sharpshooter, the scourge of the wine industry, has been found in Sonoma and Napa counties in the heart of California wine country. And while it’s not yet time to panic, any appearance of the sharpshooter and the Pierce’s Disease it transmits means it’s time to be concerned. The sharpshooter injects bacteria into the vine, and the bacteria blocks water from going through the plant, which kills it. Pierce’s can total a vineyard, stripping all the leaves from the wines in almost no time at all. There’s no cure or treatment, and the only preventative is pesticide, which brings its own problems. All this means that Pierce’s is perhaps the worst problem in wine that isn’t phylloxera.
• Cranky and irritable: Those of us who prefer bitter tastes, including apparently some kinds of red wine, are more likely to be sadists. Or so says a recent study from the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Granted that one person is a small sample size, but I am drinking black coffee as I write this, but feel no urge to kick either of my dogs. Still, the researchers say it may be that those who enjoy bitter tastes also tend to show a lack of emotion or empathy and display more anti-social behavior.
And the winner is: KT, who picked 653. The winning number (screen shot below) was 797.
Win two Savor Dallas tickets for a Saturday winemaker tasting panel co-moderated by the Wine Curmudgeon, who may also mention a thing or two about the cheap wine book (and have some for sale).
Michael Green, formerly of the late and much missed Gourmet, is the other moderator. The panel is top notch: Dr. Richard Becker of Texas’ Becker Vineyards; Ralf Holdenried of Napa’s William Hill; and Sergio Cuadra of Texas’ Fall Creek.
How to win (and these are the rules for all Wine Curmudgeon contests): Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comments section of this post. At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose number is closest to the random number wins the prize — and no, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked. Only one entry per person.
The seminar is at 11 a.m. March 22 at Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Dallas.
The blog is off today for New Year’s, but will return tomorrow with our usual features in the run-up to the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame, which debuts on Monday.
Until then, enjoy this primer on wine tasting (courtesy of Holyexpletive on YouTube), which puts everything we’ve talked about on the blog in wonderful perspective. Only wine snobs would think that being a snob would help them get chicks. Or, as the waiter says, “Excellent palate you have, sir.”
Happy New Year from the Wine Curmudgeon.
There used to be a picture of the dead soldiers from the June 13 under-$15 pinot noir tasting, undertaken at the behest of Beverage Media for an upcoming article (and I still have a half dozen or so to taste). I ?ll link to the story when it runs later this summer and offer my thoughts; several of the wines will also show up on the blog in reviews.
Surprisingly, given the Wine Curmudgeon ?s less than happy experience with a similar sweet red wine tasting, all but a handful of the pinots were professional and sound. A half dozen or so were much better than that, and even those that didn ?t taste like pinot noir were at least drinkable red wine blends.
A tip ?o the Curmudgeon ?s fedora to the legendary Diane Teitelbaum, who tasted the wines with me and made many funny comments along the way.
? What in your wine? The wine industry, for the most part, has ignored the federal government ?s decision to allow voluntary nutrition facts labels on its product. Eric Asimov at the New York Times, though not discussing the labels directly, writes about wine ingredients and offers the following: wine can very much be a manufactured product, processed to achieve a preconceived notion of how it should feel, smell and taste, and then rolled off the assembly line, year after year, as consistent and denatured as a potato chip or fast-food burger. ? The nutrition labels are an opportunity for producers to connect to younger ? and especially female ? wine drinkers, and it looks like they ?re going to pass it up for no good reason other than they think the idea is stupid.
? No money down under: The news just keeps getting worse for the Australian wine business. Only one in four grape growers in the country ?s best wine regions say their business is profitable, while a third of them want to stop growing grapes. And, to make matters worse, grape prices have dropped by half but only about 10 per cent of growers are being paid on time. The numbers come from an Australian government survey, and goes a long way to explain the ongoing crisis in the Aussie wine business.
? How many wines was that? The best way to learn about wine is to taste wine, and Sean Sullivan at the Washington Wine Report knows that first hand. No wonder he won a Wine Blog Award. Sullivan recently tasted 600 Washington wines over the course of several weeks ? an impressive performance, even by the Wine Curmudgeon ?s standards. The post is worth reading, even if you aren ?t particularly interested in Washington wine, because it ?s some of the best reporting I ?ve seen from a wine writer in a long while. Sullivan eschews the usual sort of wine writing foolishness to give readers something they can use ? hard facts, critical insight, and solid advice. In particular, his discussion of alcohol levels is very good.
The Twitter tasting has revolutionized wine marketing, as anyone who cares about regional wine will happily attest. We have used it with great success at Drink Local Wine, and the monthly Texas wine tweet-off has been equally as successful. People from around the world can comment and taste wine at the same time, linked through nothing more than the cyber-ether.
That ?s why I wanted to participate in the recent Don and Son ?s pinot noir Twitter tasting. The format ? a live webcast combined with a Twitter tasting ? sounded like it could take virtual wine tasting to the next level.
The wine was well done, and reminded me that California can produce quality pinot noir. The Twitter/webcast part, though, didn ?t quite do what I hoped it would, which says more about the wine business than the technology. More, after the jump:
We ?re doing eight French wines ? six white and two rose, all costing less than $11. And who said wine prices were going up?
You can follow the tasting on Twitter at the #PlanetBordeaux hash tag or follow me at @wine_curmudgeon. (And, in one of those bits of irony that I appreciate, Moet & Chandon — yes, that Moet — follows me on Twitter now. Guess someone there needs a solid $8 bottle of wine when they're tired of all that $100 Champage.)
The event starts at 6 p.m. central. The Other Wine Guy, who recently celebrated the birth of his first granddaughter, will be on hand to help taste the wines, but he ?ll probably make me do all the tweeting.
Those of you who prefer wine reviews that are longer than 140 characters can check out the blog on Monday, when I ?ll post a more traditional account of the tasting.