Tag Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

Wine Curmudgeon most popular posts 2019

popular posts 2019

Looks like it’s time to crank out another Barefoot epic.

The Wine Curmudgeon’s most popular posts 2019

The blog is truly part of the Internet as we celebrate its 12th annual Birthday Week.

This means two things: Its reason for being is not necessarily cheap wine, but whatever Google sends its way when someone searches for a wine, a wine term, or wine news. Only the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame made the top 10 list this year. In the old days, two, three and even four Halls of Fame were among the 10 most popular sites.

Second, that the blog is truly international — Beijing was the top city for visitors, with 3.6 percent, easily ahead of Chicago and New York, while Guangzhou (1.1%) was eighth. The U.S. remains the top country, but its share declined by about one-quarter, while China moved up to second from fourth last year.

Meanwhile, traffic was down a couple of percentage points. I think. The blog still got approximately 600,000 visitors between November 2018 and November 2019, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be more precise without paying for a sophisticated third-party app. Google Analytics, for example, says I got about one visitor a month.

What else happened between 2018 and 2019?

• Blog readers continue to get younger (more than half younger than 40) and the number of women continues to increase (2 1/2 out of five). Again, murky counting.

• A different Barefoot wine post took the No. 1 spot this year, Barefoot wine: Why it’s so popular. This 2016 post replaced the long time No. 1, Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap?, written in 2010. It dropped to third. And there were three Barefoot posts in the top four.

• The most common search term was “Wine Curmudgeon,” followed by “residual sugar in wine.” Apparently, Google has associated the site with my efforts to label sweet red wine as sweet, instead of pretending it’s dry.

The most popular posts from 2019 — as well as a couple of other highlights — are after the jump: Continue reading

Birthday week 2019 starts Monday

Birthday week 2019The blog’s 12th Birthday Week begins on Monday, with terrific prizes again this year

Birthday Week 2019, the 12th annual, begins on Monday with five days of prizes for the blog’s readers. The daily giveaways are the Wine Curmudgeon’s annual thank you to everyone who reads the blog and visits the site, since none of this would happen without you. Besides, we need lots of cheering up after the past 12 months.

Contest rules are here. Those of you who get the blog via email or RSS will need to go to winecurmudgeon.com and click on that day’s prize post to enter.

Each day next week, a prize post will run in addition to the regular post. 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 — no email entries or entries on other posts, like this one. Unless the number is in the comments section of the prize post, the entry won’t count.

This year’s prize schedule:

• Monday: A $50 gift card from Bonny Doon Vineyard.

• Tuesday: A wine cork holder, in the shape of a letter. This may be the best use ever for corks.

• Wednesday: A $100 gift card from Wine.com. Thanks to Wine.com, a long-time supporter of the blog and what we do here.

• Thursday: Four Schott Zweisel wine glasses, just like the ones the Wine Curmudgeon uses.

• Friday: Three autographed copies of the cheap wine book, just in time for the holidays.

Besides the prize giveaways, I’ll recap the past year on the blog — the top posts and the least liked on Monday, as well as my always insightful analysis about what it all means and the future of the wine business on Thursday.

Picture courtesy of Humdrum Paper, using a Creative Commons license

Four observations after shooting the Wine Curmudgeon holiday wine video

holiday wine videoGet ready for the WC’s holiday wine video later this month

We tried another tack on wine videos this week in New York, and everyone seems hopeful that it will do what our first attempt in the spring didn’t do. That is, find a way to make a wine video that people will enjoy watching.

I recorded the video with Michael Sansolo as part of the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association Store Brands USA series; his show is “Shopping with Michael.” Michael asked questions, I answered, and all seemed to go well. I even opened a bottle of sparkling wine on camera with nary a misstep.

The video should go up later this month, and I’ll update this post with the link. Full disclosure: I’m doing some consulting for the private label trade group in its quest to convince U.S. retailers to step up their store brand wine effort. Because, of course, Winking Owl.

As such, I spent a couple of days on the wine beat in New York City:

• Hotel wine prices continue to astound me. How about $56 for a bottle of $8 Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling? That seems a bit much, even for mid-town Manhattan.

• It’s always weird to walk through a New York City supermarket, and especially a well respected one in an upscale area near the UN, and not see wine for sale. But that’s our old pal the three-tier system at work. Wine shops can’t sell potato chips in New York state, and supermarkets can’t sell wine.

• We spent a lot of time talking about wine on the set, even when we weren’t shooting the video (and not to worry – “on the set” is about the only video/film jargon that I know). That’s because, as someone said, “Wine is so confusing.” It was a great joy to open a bottle of $2.99 wine for several people and explain why it cost $2.99 and why it tasted that way. In fact, one reason the PLMA wants to do the wine videos is to help supermarket shoppers who are baffled by the Great Wall of Wine.

• Welcome to the 21st century: A bomb-sniffing dog checks out your luggage when you check into the Hilton near the UN.

The blog’s year end, holiday, and 2020 $10 Hall of Fame schedule

Get ready: The next 10 weeks include the blog’s 12th annual Birthday Week and giveaways, lots of holiday wine and gift suggestions, and the 2020 $10 Hall of Fame and Cheap Wine of the Year

• Birthday Week, celebrating 12 years of cheap wine enthusiasm, begins Nov. 18. Included among the giveaways is a $100 gift card from Wine.com, and wine glasses.

• Our Thanksgiving wine suggestions will appear Nov. 22, with Christmas and New Year’s wine ideas on Dec. 20 and Dec. 26.

• The always popular Do it Yourself wine resolutions is set for Jan. 2.

• The 2020 $10 Hall of Fame will make its 13th appearance on Jan. 10, with the 2020 Cheap Wine of the Year on Jan. 9. As always, you can email me with suggestions for either. Given the 25 percent wine tariff and the continuing effects of premiumization, any help is much appreciated. You can check out eligibility rules here.

Halloween wine tales 2019

Halloween wine

If we can dress like this for Halloween, then the Wine Curmudgeon should be allowed to write Halloween wine parodies.

A blog tradition — the five Halloween wine tales from the middle of the decade.

These posts didn’t always get the traffic they deserved, but what does Google know about good writing, terrific parody, and making fun of the Winestream Media?

Besides, who else would be brave (or silly) enough to combine these characters with cheap wine and Halloween?

A Halloween wine tale 2017: Dr. Who
A Halloween wine tale 2016: Kolchak: The Wine Stalker
A Halloween wine tale 2015: I am Legend
A Halloween wine tale 2014: Frankenstein
A Halloween wine tale 2013: Dracula

Photo courtesy of Alisa Hemmesch, using a Creative Commons license

Wine Curmudgeon Wine Sample Index: Heavy weather ahead for the wine business?

wine sample indexPremiumization’s role in the wine slowdown

It’s not scientific, but the Wine Curmudgeon Wine Sample Index indicates that the wine slowdown is here

The wine slowdown, much written about and much discussed, has officially arrived. How do I know this? The Wine Curmudgeon Wine Sample Index.

The wine sample index is my highly anecdotal and decidedly un-mathematical system for gauging the health of the wine business. When business is good, and no one needs a cranky ex-newspaperman to review their wines, I get fewer samples. When business isn’t good, then I get more samples – including bottles from high-end producers who usually dismiss me as not worth their time.

And this spring and early summer, I have received more samples than I’ve gotten since the recession, maybe three or four times the usual amount.

As noted, this is highly anecdotal and decidedly un-mathematical, and I’m not sure the blog’s official statistician would approve. But the pattern has been there since the blog started in 2007. During the recession, I got more wine than I could drink, including $100 bottles. But the samples dried up in the couple of years after the recession ended, when wine sales recovered and premiumization took hold. I don’t write about the kind of wine that has dominated the market since then, so why send me something to review?

But now, apparently, they need me. I’m getting samples from producers who haven’t contacted me in years, and they’re sending wines that cost $25 and more.  Just the other day, in fact, an email me offered a case of wine, only one of which cost less than $24 and five of which cost more than $30. Hasn’t the marketer ever read the blog?

Also intriguing

More samples are coming from people who want me to write about their wines in the hope that my review will generate retailer interest as opposed to sales. They want to use a good review to place the wines in more stores in more parts of the country. That also happens more often when wines sales are slow.

In other words, any port in a storm, and this storm is beginning to look particularly intense. Know that samples are an expensive form of marketing – not just the cost of the bottles, but the cost of shipping, which can run as high as $100 a package. But wine sales are so flat and so many people are so worried that spending all that money to send me samples looks like a better investment than letting the bottles languish on a warehouse shelf.

Will this storm turn into a category 5, Hurricane Wine Recession? The sample index can’t tell me that. One sign of optimism: I still don’t get asked to attend trade tastings, where producers and distributors show off their wines for writers, retailers, and the like. Those invitations ended after the recession, too. So if trade tasting emails start to arrive, then maybe it is time to batten down the hatches.

Winebits 600: The Wine Curmudgeon has ulterior motives and is trying to destroy the wine business edition

Wine Curmudgeon

“Dude, you’re so not good for the wine business. Why are you trying to destroy it?”

This week’s wine news: The cyber-ether is ablaze in criticism of those of us, including the Wine Curmudgeon, who want people to enjoy drinking wine they can afford to buy. Because, of course, we’re up to no good.

July 3 update: Thank you for the kind words in the comments and your emails. Frankly, I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been. The blog’s readers have always supported what I do and are the reason I keep doing it even when too many in the wine business wants me to sign off on selling $12 wine for $25.

Take that, Curmudgeon: Dwight Furrow, writing on the Food and Wine Aesthetics website, wants to know where people like me get off offering wine advice. After all, all we want to do is destroy wine and make money in the process. He links to the Jamie Goode post I wrote about earlier this year, and agrees with Goode that people like me are part of some vast conspiracy that has it in for “wine experts.” We’ll ignore for a moment that I am incapable of evil mustache twirling and that the only conspiracy I believe in is that Microsoft tried to destroy Linux. What Furrow misses, as Goode did, is that wine criticism is seriously flawed, and that responsible, legitimate critics who aren’t so-called cheap wine slime like me (Eric Asimov, for one) think so. So let’s figure out a way to fix the problem instead of pronouncing judgment on everyone else.

And this, too: I’ve been writing about wine and the three-tier system for more than 20 years, but I’ve never seen anything like a recent post in something called Alcohol Law Review. Apparently, those of us who oppose the three-tier system are lying scum who want to make money off the deaths of others. As near as I can tell, if we change the three-tier system in any way, we’ll end up with tourists dying after drinking tainted booze, as happened recently in the Dominican Republic. The enemy here is the same one as in Furrow’s post: “Various economic interests” who want to overthrow the system so they can get fat and rich. Who knew? I thought I just wanted to buy cheap wine more easily.

And don’t forget this one, either: Jamie Goode is back at it, reminding those of us who like cheap that we’re not only wrecking the environment, but that our greed ruins the wine business: “The race to the bottom in terms of price points sucks life out of the wine category. It also sucks out all the profit.” I would argue that the £5 wines he’s talking about are Barefoot and their ilk in the U.S., and the last time I checked, Barefoot owner E&J Gallo was one of the richest and most profitable companies in wine. But what do I know? I’m trying to ruin the wine business and feather my already fat and corrupt nest.