Category:Podcasts

Winecast 24: Joe Roberts, 1 Wine Dude

joe robertsJoe Roberts helped revolutionize wine writing, becoming the first wine blogger with a reach, an audience, and reputation that equaled many print writers. Not surprisingly, he came to wine from a successful business career, unburdened by most of the wine foolishness that hampers the rest of us.

I’ve known Joe since he attended our Drink Local Wine conference in Denver in 2012, and he has always displayed an open mind, a willingness to try something he has never tried before, and an understanding that just because he likes something doesn’t mean everyone else will or should like it. As he says in the podcast, “I tend to drink wines that score lower on my own scale. … I don’t care. It’s delicious.”

Among the other topics we discussed:

? Wine is not one size fits all. This is something, he says, that is difficult for most people in the wine business to understand, trapped as they are by the three-tier system and the complex laws that regulate wine sales. In this, Joe says with a laugh, wine producers, retailers, and distributors have to pay more attention to what he writes about their product than what consumers think about it. How many other businesses does that happen in?

? The pants analogy, which I’m going to steal: That when we buy pants, we trust our taste, our sense, our style — no Pants Spectator, no scores, no tasting notes. The goal, then, is to help consumers reach that same level of confidence with wine. Or, as he said, “No one freaks out in the mustard aisle.”

? It’s easier to get to that confidence level than ever before, with more resources for consumers, whether on-line with writers like us, friends, or social media. “If you find a bottle of wine that you enjoy, and you’re happy you’re not getting ripped off, than you’re doing OK.”

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 18 minutes long and takes up 8 1/2 megabytes. The sound quality is very good, and Skype ? the unofficial VoIP provider for the blog ? was in exceptionally fine form for the third consecutive podcast.

Winecast 23: Lew Perdue, Wine Industry Insight

Lew PerdueLew Perdue is a long-time wine marketer, wine writer, and wine entrepreneur, and he may be even crankier about the wine business than the Wine Curmudgeon. Or, as he recently wrote about a Kendall-Jackson wine: “At $21.50 retail it is a pale shadow of the Hogue at $13.50. … sour, bitter, thin, harsh.”

Which doesn’t mean his analysis isn’t spot on — the wine industry, which may actually want to make it easier for consumers to buy wine, doesn’t know how to do it. Perdue says he buys six wines at his local grocer for his reviews, and only three are usually worth drinking.

Fortunately, Perdue has several suggestions about what can be done, which we talk about on the podcast. Given that everyone tastes wine differently, he says, wouldn’t it make more sense to find a way for people to find wine recommendations from others with similar tastes, instead of from what he calls the wine elite, with their scores and jargon?

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 20 minutes long and takes up 10 megabytes. The sound quality is very good, and Skype ? the unofficial VoIP provider for the blog ? was in exceptionally fine form for the second consecutive podcast.

Wine Curmudgeon on Winemaker’s Academy podcast

winemaker's academyIn which Winemaker Academy’s Matt Williams interviews me about how to make better wine, and the discussion is not technical at all. Because that’s not what I do.

Rather, I offer perspective from the consumer side. This is crucial, I think, because winemakers, faced with the difficulties inherent in winemaking, sometimes don’t have time or the the motivation to understand there is another perspective. If they like oak, the wine gets oak. even if the wine doesn’t need it. If they like Bordeaux-style wines, they make Bordeaux-style wines, even if the grapes aren’t suited for it. The term for this is tasting room palate, and it’s to be avoided at all costs.

My thanks to Matt for letting me share this with his winemaking community, because I don’t think it’s something they hear very often.

Winecast 22: Jerry Lockspeiser, wine guru

Jerry LockspeiserJerry Lockspeiser has done many things during his wine career in the United Kingdom — producer, negociant, consultant, salesman, and writer. Through much of it, his focus on been on cheap wine and what Lockspeiser calls the normal wine drinker; those of us who want to buy a bottle to have with dinner and who don’t want to mess with any of wine’s foolishness.

The biggest lesson in wine over the past decade? That consumers discovered “they didn’t need to pay a lot of money for a good drink,” he said. That’s preaching the gospel, no?

Lockspeiser and I talked about:

? The improved quality of cheap wine, and that the improvement was led by the Australians and Californians.

? Why the wine business insists on selling expensive wine and trading up perfectly happy wine drinkers. Hint: It’s about money.

? How winespeak is one of the biggest problems facing consumers, and why the wine business doesn’t understand the problem.

? Some of the best advice I’ve seen for negotiating the Great Wall of Wine at the grocery store (yes, they have it in Britain, too), including tips on pricing.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 16 minutes long and takes up almost 8 megabytes. The sound quality is very good, with only a couple of squeaks and hisses even though Lockspeiser was in London. Skype — the unofficial VoIP provider for the blog — was in exceptionally fine form.

Winecast 21: Dave Falchek, Empty Bottles blog

Dave FalchekIf wine had more writers like Dave Falchek, more people would drink wine. He wants to make wine easier for consumers and he doesn ?t suffer foolish wines or their producers ? and he does this writing in Pennsylvania, which has some of most restrictive liquor laws in the country and where availability is often a joke.

Dave ?s advice for wine drinkers: First, if you don ?t like a wine, it doesn ?t mean your taste buds are broken. Second, you ?re not supposed to like a wine just because someone else does.

We talked about those things, as well as Dave ?s work with the American Wine Society, which aims to make wine drinking easier; the state of regional wine, which Dave has supported since he started writing about wine; and whether Pennsylvania will eventually reform its antiquated liquor laws. Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 11 minutes long and takes up 10.8 megabytes

Winecast 20: Don Brady, Robert Hall Winery

don-bradyDon Brady, the winemaker at Paso Robles ? Robert Hall Winery, is something of a legend in Texas. He worked for three of the state ?s best-known producers before going to California, where he has become one of the best winemakers there.

Brady is also, for some reason, not as well known as he should be. His wines not only offer value ? the $10 rose, the $15 sauvignon blanc, and the $15 Rhone de Robles red blend are revelations in a world of over-priced, cute label plonk ? but they reflect the terroir of his part of Paso Robles without concern for scores or ratings.  Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay: I once voted to give his 14 1/2 percent, oaked viogner a gold medal, and regular visitors know how I feel about high alcohol, over-oaked wine.

We talked about Don ?s start in Texas, his approach to winemaking, and how he manages to make such wonderful wines. Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 19 minutes long and takes up 18 1/2 megabytes. One caveat: Skype didn ?t cooperate the way it usually does, and there is a hum in certain parts of the recording.

Winecast 19: Tim McNally, The Wine Show

TimMcNally2Tim McNally hosts a wine radio show, writes extensively about wine, and judges some of the most important wine competitions in the world. In other words, he knows more than most of us about the wine business — and is more than happy to share. Or, as Tim says about our tendency to drink specific wines because we're told they're good: "If wine doesn't give you great pleasure, then don't drink it."

Tim and I talked about wine intimidation and how to overcome it, the changes in the wine business and especially in the quality of cheap wine, and he even called me out once or twice. Can't get a better guest than that.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 14 1/2 minutes long and takes up 13 megabytes.