? Wine Trials 2011: This is the third edition of one the best guides to cheap wine ever done. Robin Goldstein and his colleagues, using blind tastings, have found 175 wines for $15 and less that are always well worth trying. I'll have a full review later this month; it's enough to know for know that the book includes three Bulgarian wines.
? State spending on the wine business: There was a very odd article in Bloomberg Business Week that detailed increasing state spending on regional wine. Why odd? Because the article inferred, given the budget crises facing so many states, that money spent on developing local wine was money poorly spent. Yet it never quite got around to saying that. Texas spends more than $3 billion annually; wine gets $2.3 million. The Wine Curmudgeon is an ardent supporter of regional wine, but I'm an even bigger supporter of good journalism. If someone at Bloomberg wants to say that state spending on wine could be put to better use, then say so, and let's discuss it.
? Booze and the recession: Do people drink more when the economy is bad? That's the conventional wisdom, that we drink away the hard times. But it's not necessarily true, says a new study by a California state agency. The Board of Equalization, which deals with tax policy, found that U.S. spending on alcohol, before the 2008-09 recession, rose 2.4 percent. In contrast, during the 2008-09 recession, spending on alcohol declined by 1.7 percent. This is an especially relevant report, given that so many states are considering booze tax increases to make up recession-caused deficits. It seems to imply that if states are going to raise consumption taxes, they should do it when the economy is good, since new taxes will bring in more money.