Category:Wine trends

Champagne producers to consumer: Nuts to you

Is the sun setting on Champagne sales? The news is not good for those of us who love bubbly, and especially the French version ? real, live Champagne. The business is in a freefall, as the recession, high prices and the weak dollar combine to clobber sales.

So what are Champagne producers doing? Cutting production, so they can keep prices up. The leading Champagne producers have apparently agreed to production cuts of 30 to 40 percent, which in their case means leaving grapes on the vines to rot. Jocelyne Dravigny, chairman of the Federation of Champagne Wine Co-operatives, told the Times of London: ?For us, the stabilizing of prices is a priority. ?

This is not an indictment of Champagne as wine, which is one of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s guilty pleasures. This is, rather, another example of how the wine industry doesn ?t respect the consumer and is shocked and amazed when that approach backfires. More, after the jump:

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The Wine Curmudgeon on Blog Talk Radio

This is last Sunday ?s Art of Living with Olivia Wilder; I ?m on for the first 30 or 40 minutes. We talked about local wine, good cheap wine, and the debut of Palate Press and my wine nutrition label story. We also offered wine suggestions for a woman in the chat room who wanted to start drinking red wine.

What wine magazines — still — don’t understand about wine

Food & Wine magazine is a well-done and professional book that has hundreds of thousands of readers. The Wine Curmudgeon likes Food & Wine. For one thing, it  occasionally acknowledges regional wine, and its wine stuff is mostly written in English. Compared to the rest of the Wine Magazine universe, that ?s top of the class.

But what Food & Wine doesn ?t understand is the same thing that all of the rest of them don ?t understand. Cheap wine does not cost $20. Cheap wine costs $10 or $8 or  even $5. The average price of a bottle of wine in the U.S. (all together now, regular readers) is $6.

But Food & Wine, apparently, has the same blind spot that the rest of the wine world has. The winner of the ?value ? pinot noir (Manhattan magazines hate to use the word cheap) in its American Wine Awards, which will be announced in the October magazine, cost $20. Yes, $20 ? or three times the average price of a bottle of wine.

Or, to quote the magazine: ?This entry-level bottling.

Entry-level bottling? For Donald Trump, maybe. Why this matters, and that it ?s not just another excuse for a Wine Curmudgeon rant — after the jump:

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How the wine business works

A fellow called MrWineGuy101 has posted a video at YouTube, featuring two animated characters discussing wine they need to sell to their restaurant and retail clients. It ?s so accurate that it ?s spooky. I have actually heard these conversations among wine distributors. Yes, part of it is exaggerated, but that ?s only because the rest of it isn ?t. And some of the language is a bit rough.

Charles Smith: Making wine the honest way

Yes, Charles Smith is seen in the wine business of something of a rock star.Charles Smith does two things with his wines, made in Washington state. They have clever, intelligent labels and names in the style of Randall Grahm like Kung Fu Girl Riesling and Eve (as in the Garden of Eden) Chardonnay. And they ?re well-made, honest wines that reflect where the grapes are from and not what the Wine Magazines say they should taste like.

?You have to be responsible to all of the people who drink wine who don ?t speak wine, ? says Smith. who was in Dallas last month to make the rounds of retailers and writers. ?And the No. 1 responsibility, whether it ?s a $10 wine or a $100 wine, is to make the best wine possible. ?

Which makes Smith the Wine Curmudgeon ?s kind of guy. More, after the jump:

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Wine bloggers: Do we really matter?

The answer, apparently, is yes, if a recent academic study is to be believed. Researchers at the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute found that wineries, and in particular smaller and regional wineries, could benefit immensely from blog-driven publicity.

What ?s most interesting about the study (which apparently doesn ?t exist on-line, but is available in summary here) is that it came to what I think is the right conclusion despite some serious problems. Even the authors realize that, noting that it ?s almost impossible to get a handle on how many wine blogs exist.

It cites the Complete List of Wine Blogs at but that looks to be at least a year out of date. I ?m not on it and neither is, and the Vinography list is also missing a half dozen or so quality and important wine blogs that I follow. The other authoritative list, at, was last updated in January 2009, so it ?s not much help either.

More, after the jump:

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