Tag Archives: Wine Curmdugeon

Coming soon to a YouTube near you: Wine Curmudgeon videos

Wine Curmudgeon videosIs the cyber-ether – let alone the wine world – ready for Wine Curmudgeon videos?

Aug. 1 update: Production woes. The project is still a project, but we won’t have videos until the holidays.

Is the Wine Curmudgeon going to be the Internet’s next viral sensation? We’ll know early this summer, when the first of two wine videos I made this week goes live.

I did the videos, featuring helpful, useful information about summer wine and restaurant wine, for the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association. The videos are part of the trade group’s quest to convince U.S. retailers to step up their private label wine effort – because, of course, Winking Owl. I’ll post a link when the summer wine video goes live.

The experience was unique. How else would an ink-stained wretch see a process that involves makeup, story conferences, green screens, and long discussions about what I should wear? I haven’t spent that much time worrying about my clothes since since my mother picked them out. I should also mention that I have spent much of my writing career gently mocking – or worse – those of my friends who did have to worry about that stuff. I suppose I will have to endure their gentle – or worse – mocking now.

The goal with each video was to avoid winespeak as well as the deadly dullness that overwhelms most wine videos (even those with big names and big budgets). We wanted to offer information that wine drinkers could use when they were staring at the supermarket Great Wall of Wine. Which I think we did.

A very large tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Sonia Petrocelli, the videos’ producer, and Richard Dandrea, who wrote them. Both made the process infinitely easier than I thought it would be, and their patience with my ignorance of all things video was much appreciated.

Has all the value gone out of California wine?

California wine

Just don’t expect to find any value around $10.

Where has all the value gone in California wine?

The store employee, who knows his business, didn’t mince words. “You’re not going to find any value here,” he said, waving his arm at the store’s extensive California wine section. “That’s why I tell people to look at Spain and Italy for value. There isn’t any in California any more.”

The Wine Curmudgeon, who had just spent 15 minutes scouring the aisles in a vain attempt to find a $10 California wine to write about (or even a $12 or $15 wine, for that matter) was surprised to hear someone who sold wine say that. But I wasn’t surprised to hear it.

There has been value in wine, even in these dark days, almost everywhere in the world save for Bordeaux and Burgundy. You just had to keep looking. But I’m finding it harder and harder to find value in California. Instead, there are $17 high-alcohol zinfandels that all taste the same; $15 too fruity red blends with cute labels that all taste the same; $12 white wines wearing fake oak disguises that all taste the same; and too much wine costing less than $10 that tastes like it was made without any regard for quality — and that all tastes the same.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t quality, because California can produce the best wine in the world at any price. We know how I feel about Bogle. Rather, it’s that you almost never get more than you pay for anymore, and you rarely even get what you pay for.

How did this happen? Ten years ago, when I started the blog, value was common in California. and I wrote about those wines all the time. Since then, though:

Land prices have skyrocketed. Higher land prices mean more expensive wine, even if the quality of the grapes isn’t any better.

Consolidation, which has shifted producer focus from wine quality to wine marketing. This is the difference between “How much is this wine worth?” to “How much should we charge for this wine, given where it is in our portfolio?”

• Price increases, as producers make up for all the price increases they didn’t take during the last decade.

• Pricing based on styles. This is where a producer will charge more for a cheap wine made to mimic a more expensive wine, because the cheap wine will still be less expensive than the expensive wine. It just won’t be a value, but we’re not supposed to be smart enough to figure that out.

Of course, I’ll keep looking for value in California wine. But given all that has happened, I don’t expect to find much.

TV wine commercials and their legacy

TV wine commercials and their legacyKen Ross, at The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Mass., has a fine critical eye for TV wine commercials:

In commercial after commercial, for years and years, television ads created an elitist aura around wine that simply won’t go away. You need to live in a castle or wear a cravat to drink wine. You need to enunciate your words slowly and listen to Beethoven. You need to drive a Rolls Royce or have long, flowing blond hair that moves in slow motion.

Which is something that has been noted here several times. Wine ads on TV are decidedly unoriginal, especially when compared to commercials for beer and spirits. The orginal Miller Lite ads were groundbreaking, and even the recent Captain Morgan rum ads are interesting, if a tad silly.

But not wine. As Ross writes, “Watch a few wine commercials and you’ll start to notice a striking similarity from one bland ad to the next, especially during the ’70s and ’80s.” The reason? The wine business has spent the past 40 years using intimidation to market its product, bludgeoning us with Ross’ cravats. Wine isn’t fun like beer or rum, and you’d better not buy it for that reason. Or we’ll make fun of you.

Ross thinks the situation has improved, and links to 11 ads that he says demonstrate the change. One of them, for a brand that apparently isn’t made any more, is a nifty take-off on the old Grey Poupon mustard ad, and another, for an English wine retailer, captures exactly how terrified most consumers are when they browse a wine shop.

But that those two aren’t strictly wine commercials, and that four others on the list aren’t either, speaks to how pitiful most wine commercials remain. One reason for that, I think, is that the best wine marketers, companies like E&J Gallo and The Wine Group, which makes Cupcake, don’t do TV ads. If they did, they might reach Miller Lite heights (and a YouTube video for Gallo’s Barefoot line, promoting its non-profit Soles program, hints at that).

Or, with a little luck, they could scale the summit of the greatest wine commercial of all, Orson Welles for Paul Masson in the 1970s (courtesy of DarianGlover on YouTube):

podcast

The WC on WGSO in New Orleans

The WC on WGSO in New OrleansI’ll join my old pal Tim McNally at 5 p. m. on Friday to talk about cheap wine, the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame, and plug the cheap wine book on WGSO in New Orleans. You can stream the show if you’re not in the New Orleans area — or, better yet, listen to the podcast.

It’s always a lot of fun to talk to Tim, who knows more about the wine business than most and is very modest about it. Plus, he always asks me easy questions.

wine.com gift card

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.

direct shipping

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