Category:Wine news

Michael Lonsford’s farewell

Michael Lonsford was the long-time wine writer at the Houston Chronicle, and he was one of the best. He and Diane Teitelbaum in Dallas were, for years and years, the wine writing business in Texas, taking arms against a sea of troubles (if I may paraphrase Shakespeare).

Lonsford retired this year, and it doesn’t look like the bosses in Houston will replace him. This means the newspaper in the fourth-largest city in the U.S. won’t have a wine writer — and the geniuses wonder why no one of a certain socio-economic group reads newspapers anymore.

Lonsford wrote about his career in an email that circulated around the Texas wine business. I want to quote one part, in which he summed up what each of us tries to do, no matter where we are and who we are:

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High-end wine drinkers like Napa cabernet

Red wines over $30 preference This is not really surprising news, but the extent of how much they like it is.

That’s one of the results of a 2007 study of wine drinkers who are representative of consumers who buy expensive wine. The survey, conducted by California’s WineOpinions, found that almost one-half of respondents are “very likely” to buy a $30-plus Napa cab, but only one-quarter are very likely to buy similarly-priced Bordeaux red wine.

Meanwhile, more than a third are “not very likely” to buy a Washington state cabernet or a Spanish red from Rioja, even though the quality is comparable and the price is often one-third less (or more).

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Checking out Cellar Tracker

One of the biggest problems I had when I started drinking wine professionally was organizing it. How do you keep track of a couple of hundred bottles of wine, where the number changes almost daily? And how do you do that when your Excel skills are practically non-existent?

That’s when I discovered Cellar Tracker. It’s free, web-based software that lets you track what you own, what you drink, what you like, and what you want to buy. And it’s equally handy for someone who wants to track just a couple of dozen bottles of wine.

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Holiday gift ideas

No need to be stumped when it comes to the wine and spirits drinker on your holiday gift list:

? Bounty Hunter Bronze Star Club ($49.95 monthly): The Wine Curmudgeon is not a big fan of wine clubs. Too often, what the club says is ?boutique ? or ?hard to find ? is stuff that someone else is closing out. Plus, you have to pay shipping. But Bounty Hunter, a California wine outfit, has a good reputation and this is a more than decent deal: three bottles a month, two reds and a white. Bounty Hunter promises it won ?t send any wines that someone else is getting rid of, and it guarantees every selection.

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Lots more wine on the shelf

Thought you saw a lot of new wines on store shelves this year? You weren ?t seeing things. Wine companies launched 423 brands in 2006, with more expected this year, according to a report from the Nielsen Co.

What ?s the reason for all of these new labels? Cheap grapes, especially in California, said the report, as well as marketers trying to cash in on wine ?s health benefits ? perceived or otherwise. Perhaps the most significant finding is that grocery store wine sales showed strong growth, doubling the increase in liquor store sales.

The study also found that:

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What do young people want?

Forget all that media-inspired spin about hot cocktails and a surge in wine drinking by younger consumers. They’re still drinking beer.

That’s the conclusion of a Nielsen study released this week, tracking the drinking habits of what the report calls Millenials — the 70-million 21- to 30-year-olds in the United States.  That’s the second largest demographic group in the U.S. after the Baby Boomers, and larger than Generation X.

Yes, the study shows that Millenials are drinking more wine and that they want to learn more about wine. (Shameless plug: Check out Two Wine Guys, all you Millenials.) But the key numbers: Beer accounts for almost half of all their alcohol purchases by dollar, and it accounts for 83 percent of their purchases by volume.

Which means that 8 out of 10 times a Millenial walks up to the bar or goes into a liquor store, he or she is buying beer. The dollar figure is lower since beer costs less than wine or booze. Which also means that wine producers need to do more than put cute labels and catchy names on their bottles. They need to reach out to these consumers, and explain why beer is more fun to drink than wine.