Category:A Featured Post

Wine of the week: Falesco Merlot 2011

Wine of the week: Falesco Merlot 2011The Wine Curmudgeon does not like merlot, and I fight this prejudice every time I taste one. I’ve had too many poorly-made, fruit-charged merlots (yes, California, this means you) to have an open mind, and the blog has suffered for it. In the six-plus years I’ve been doing this, only two merlots have been a wine of the week. Given that they were from Bulgaria and Texas, that’s hardly representative.

It’s time to change that, and what better time than Birthday Week and what better wine to do it with than the Falesco ($15, sample, 13.5%)? After all, didn’t the blog’s readers choose Falesco as the best cheap wine brand?

The various Falesco wines have been a fixture here since I started the blog, and almost every single one I’ve tasted in the past decade has offered quality and value, enough for the Vitiano to make the $10 Hall of Fame every year. The merlot is no exception, and that it’s Italian just makes it more interesting. Look for typical merlot richness and subdued tannins, combined with black fruit and enough acidity to remind you this is an Italian wine. Highly recommended, and worth every bit of the five bucks more than $10 that it costs.

And I have mentioned that Falesco’s Riccardo Cotarella is a genius?

Wednesday Birthday Week 2013 giveaway: $50 Wine.com gift card

And the winner is: Laura, who selected 56; the winning number was 64 (screenshot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated. Tomorrow’s prize is a wine accessories gift pack, including a wine tote, corkscrew, and white wine ice bag, courtesy of Nomacorc.

Today, to celebrate the blog’s sixth anniversary, we’re giving away a $50 gift card from Wine.com, and thank you very much to the people at Wine.com for their contribution to the cause. Wine.com offers free shipping with the Steward-Ship program, which includes a free, one-month trial. This is the third of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Briefly, pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of the prize 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. Otherwise, your entry doesn’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you have to come to the website, winecurmudgeon.com and to this post, to enter. 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 card.

Winebits 308: Birthday week

A few thoughts about blog trends over the past year:

? No one is laughing: I spent a fair amount of effort this year trying to upgrade the quality of wine humor on the Internet, but save for the Rick Perry April’s Fool Day post (No. 50), humor didn’t do much on the blog (and I’m not so sure that the post didn’t do so well because it was about Rick Perry). I was really disappointed that the do-it-yourself-wine-review, complete with code-savvy dropdown boxes, was only No. 130. It’s much funnier than a three-year-old review of Kendall Jackson chardonnay, which was 17th.

? Still looking for the big money — again: The blog earned about $2,000 over the past 12 months, a little more than last year. It looks like the next 12 to 18 months will see an increase in revenue, thanks to more and better advertising (but no popups, I promise). But no one will ever get rich from ads on a blog that doesn’t do traffic in the millionse. Still, the blog might be able to generate enough revenue so that I don’t have to sound so pitiful when I write this next year.

? Full disclosure: The blog has followed that policy for six years, whether it’s subscribing to the eGullet code of ethics for online writers, disclosing my relationship with anyone or anything I write about, and letting you know whether I paid for a wine or got it for free. No quid pro quos here, and I have turned down half a dozen requests just this year for sponsored posts and posts that want to pay me to write about their wine or products.

Tuesday Birthday Week 2013 giveaway: The “American Wine” book

111913And the winner is: Marty, who selected 840; the winning number was 910 (screenshot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated, especially given how flaky the website was acting. Tomorrow’s prize is a $50 gift card from Wine.com, which offers free shipping with the Steward-Ship program and its free, one-month trial.

Today, to celebrate the blog’s sixth anniversary, we’re giving away the definitive book about American wine, ?American Wine, ? written by my pal Linda Muprhy and Jancis Robinson, courtesy of the University of California Press. It’s the second of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Briefly, pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of the prize post. Only one entry per person, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, your entry doesn’t count. Please be careful here — we got a half-dozen or so incorrect entries yesterday, and I had to throw them out.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you have to come to the website, winecurmudgeon.com and to this post, to enter. I’ve extended the deadline until 9 p.m. central today, because the website’s server has been balky all day, limiting access to the site. I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the book.

Monday Birthday Week 2013 giveaway: Riedel Swirl + Gift set

11182013And the winner is: Joyce DeBlieck, who selected 910; the winning number was 920 (screenshot to the right). Hers was the final entry of the day. Thanks to everyone who participated. Tomorrow’s prize is the definitive book about American wine, ?American Wine, ? written by my pal Linda Murphy and Jancis Robinson, courtesy of the University of California Press.

Today, to celebrate, the blog’s sixth anniversary, we’re giving away a Riedel Swirl + Gift set, with four red wine glasses and a decanter, courtesy of Banfi Vintners. It’s the first of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Briefly, pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of the prize post. One entry per person, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, your entry doesn’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you have to come to the website, winecurmudgeon.com and to this post, to enter. 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 Riedel set.

Birthday Week 2013: More growth and some growing pains

One of the reasons I procrastinated about moving the website to a more efficient platform and updating its look is that I knew that one of the results would be a kick in the metrics. Sure enough, that’s what happened this year — a record-setting April, and then lots of ups and downs as changes in Internet search patterns and in breaking in the new site did what they always do.

Having said that — and as demonstrated with the always popular colored chart — we’re still making signifcant progress in bringing the gospel of cheap wine to the masses. All told, the number of average daily visitors has increased 4,172 percent from that first year. Plus, this year saw the first- and third-best days ever — the Two-buck Chuck gold medal controversy and the Treasury debacle.

The annual bullit points ? almost as popular as the chart. On Thursday, I’ll count down the top posts of the past 12 months:

? Can’t report most of the Internet geeky stuff this year, like Quantcast rating or Google page rank. Much of the information was lost in the transition to the new platform.

? The blog ?s audience is younger and more female again this year, as near as I can tell. My efforts in this area seem to be paying off, and I will continue them in 2014.

? The $10 Hall of Fame, for the first time ever, was not the most popular post. That honor went to the 2012 Barefoot review; the 2012 Hall of Fame was second and the 2013 Hall of Fame was fourth. This is significant, even though some of it was probably caused by changing platforms and the drop-off after April.

? Anyone who doubts the importance of sweet red wine should know that the ultimate guide to sweet red wine was the eighth most popular post over the past year, and the wine term post about residual sugar was 12th. The Winestream Media may not care or notice, but wine drinkers do.

? About 87 percent of visitors came from the U.S., a figure that was a bit higher than in previous years. A little more than five percent came from New York City, which was twice as many as the next two cities, Dallas and San Francisco, each less than 2 1/2 percent. The site had 12 visitors from Iran and seven from Mongolia. Think they had some availablity problems?

More about the blog’s history:
? Birthday week 2012
? Birthday Week 2011
? Birthday Week 2010

Falesco wins cheap wine poll

wine-bottles-rowFalesco Vitiano, the long-time Wine Curmudgeon favorite, stormed past Bogle over the weekend to win the blog’s first best cheap wine brand poll. Bogle had held a comfortable lead until Saturday morning, when Falesco made its move. The complete results are here.

McManis finished third, while Two-buck Chuck came in last among the 10 brands. The other big mover was Barefoot, which spent most of the poll in ninth, but rallied over the weekend to finish sixth.

The biggest surprise was Yellow + Blue, which came in ninth. I’ve never had a badly made Yellow + Blue wine, and its products regularly make the $10 Hall of Fame. The only thing I can think of is that voters really don’t like wine in boxes, which is something they need to work on.

Thanks to everyone for the terrific response, which earned the poll a Statesman’s badge from Ranker, the company that does the polling widget. We had 770 votes, which was a nice turnout for something that didn’t get a lot of planning or preparation. And thanks for all your comments, even the not-so-nice ones. Much of the what I did this year was limited by the polling widget, and I’ll see if I can streamline the polling next year.