Archive for January, 2008
OK, so Dude is waaaaaaaaaaaaay late in giving this event props and publicity blogging love… But in the case of love, later is always better than never (that’s what I always say anyway – and I come from a fine, distinguished, and long line of justifiers!).
The on-line Wine Book Club has been launched earlier this month, with the first edition being hosted over at McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail. I met David McDuff recently at Moore Brothers and I can tell you from first-hand experience that the guy has serious wine smarties, especially when it comes to boutique Italian, German, French, and Austrian wineries. So by the Dude’s standards, David seems like a splendid choice to get the wine book club ball a’rolling.
The first wine book that will be reviewed by the Wine Club is Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch.
No, not that David Lynch!…
This David Lynch is the beverage director over at NYC’s celebrated restaurant Babbo. Also, I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any bizarre dream sequences in this book… or hot naked shots of Naomi Watts either… at least, not that I’ve come across so far in my reading (but a Dude can hope…!). And if you wanna peruse glossies of Naomi Watts naked (meaning she was naked in the pics, not you naked while perusing them), that’s probably best done while learning about Aussie wines. Not that the Dude spent any appreciable time considering it. Or for that matter searching the Internet for erotic-but-still-tasteful photos of Namoi Watts for this post. At least, not too much time.
Er, uhm, was I saying something about a book??
Anyway, this mighty tome on Italian vino (which also features Italian wine region recipes by Mario Batali, by the way) looks intimidating at first glance, but it’s actually a very quick read – and there is still more than enough time for you to pick up a copy, join the book club love over at shelfari.com, and contribute to the reviews (due date is Feb. 26). Future events may be coordinated from a new website devoted to the book club – so watch this space.
Cheers – and happy reading!
Whenever I’m asked about Wine 2.0, the conversation usually goes something like this:
“Hey Dude – what exactly is Wine 2.0 anyways? Is that, like, some future technology where wine will get instantly zapped into my glass, like on Star Trek? ‘Cause that would, like, seriously rule.”
Uh… not quite. I’ve found this a confusing topic as well, and I’m even a tech-savvy nerd-type. After all, it’s a bit of an amorphous term, but even the casual wine geek will have noticed the term cropping up on the web. It must be important if everyone’s talkin’ about it, right? Some wine blogs even have their own sections devoted to it.
So what is this Wine 2.0 stuff all about?…
Wine 2.0 is basically just the concepts of Web 2.0 applied to the world of wine. And it’s starting to turn that world on its head (er, cork)!
“Power To The People – Right On!”
Wine 2.0 might best be described as “Power to the People.”
Web 2.0 is about the migration of publishing and social network out of the hands of a (relatively) few controlled powers and into the hands of ordinary folks. Think about what blogs, social networking websites (like MySpace), and instant communication /chat tools (like Twitter) have done in recent years: they’ve opened up the world of publishing to literally millions upon millions of people, all sharing ideas, offering opinions, and influencing each other’s decisions.
What we are now seeing in the wine world is that wine reviews, and wine topics in general, are no longer just the territory of a few elite publishers of books, magazines and websites. They are also now part of a huge global community of hundreds of people, interacting in a very big online wine conversation.
Another way to look at it is that any talentless dimwit with a PC, an Internet connection, and an under-developed wine palate can set up an opinionated blog, MySpace page, twitter account, on-line affiliate store, merchandising page, and write & sell media like books online in practically no time at all.
Uh… wait a minute… on second thought, ignore that last paragraph!!!
Anyway, the Wine 2.0 phenomenon is starting to impact winemakers, who are realizing the power shift that is taking place (and are starting to send wines to bloggers for reviews, for example). You can contribute to this influential conversation – by blogging, “twittering,” and generally just visiting and commenting on wine websites that you enjoy. That’s the good news.
The bad news? Wine 2.0 is confusing as hell and the online marketplace is as fragmented as a busted wine bottle. Every marketer and their sister wants in on Wine 2.0 and its huge potential customer base; and because social networking translates into big money, you will find that nearly every Wine 2.0 website has some requirement for you to create an account so that you can share wine reviews with friends.
Kind of like MySpace or Facebook, only drunker.
The trouble is that everyone wants to be the Facebook of Wine 2.0, so all of these websites have their own community. And they don’t talk to the other communities. For example: You wanna buy wine online? There’s Snooth, WineQ (my personal fave, since it operates a bit like Netflix), and WineZap. Wanna share some wine reviews? Well, you’ll need to pick from about a dozen websites, including CellarTracker, Cork’d, Wineography, Vino, GrapeFoot, Wine Commune, OpenBottles, BottleTalk, Vinorati, Adegga… are you going insane yet?
Perhaps someday, someone will smarten up and just create a Facebook widget application that interfaces to one of the better wine sales websites and – voilà – you’ve got your social networking and your wine sales without having to exhaust the poor wine consumer with dozens of different online Wine 2.0 communities.
OK, I gotta go call one of the big wigs at WineQ and offer them my idea for $10K…
In the spirit of all things Wine 2.0-ish, I’ve opened up a second Twitter feed that will feature my “mini” wine reviews (the reviews are mini – the wines are normal size). Stop by and Twitter me up!
Dude’s been dabbling in the art of interpreting website traffic results, and noticed in the process that lots of folks are finding the 1WineDude blog while searching for advice on the CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) exam.
Well, Dude has passed this exam and he is here to help!
I’ve written before on this topic, offering CSW exam advice based on how I nearly totally screwed myself on the exam due to my poor prep. work. So I thought I’d offer some advice about the exam itself (without giving you any actual questions, of course… shame on you for thinking that!). I’m assuming that most of you out there contemplating the CSW are already wine lovers, or industry types who have opportunity to taste wine, and so you’re probably already cool with wine varietal taste profiles and the like. That’s good – because the exam will test you on your knowledge of those elements. But what else do you need to be an ‘A’ student? Cue the Sam Cooke tunes…
Don’t Know Much About History…
There’s a surprising amount of wine history that is fair game for inclusion on the exam. Unfortunately, this means that you will need to know some fairly obscure facts about wine-related names and dates. Concentrate on the people who were the “founding fathers” of modern wine cultivation and/or wine production in today’s major wine-producing areas (South Africa, California, etc.). Look at it this way: if nothing else, it’s an opportunity to impress party-goers at your next wine gathering, or get a leg up in a wine trivia drinking game.
Don’t Know Much About Geography…
You will need to be very comfortable with geography in order to do well on the exam. And because the Society of Wine Educators (SWE, who administer the exam) are based in the U.S., the CSW seemed to me to favor California geography questions over “Old World” (France, Germany, Italy) geography questions. You will need to know your CA wine geography. Having said that, remember that obscure the “Old World” geography questions are fair game, and other questions about varietals, styles, etc., are sometimes phrased in terms of geography (e.g., “a famous wine from the southern area of country X is…”).
the History, Geography and Chemistry of wine
for the CSW exam…
Don’t Know Much About a Science Book…
The most surprising aspect of the CSW exam, at least for me, was the healthy concentration of wine chemistry questions. Dude didn’t much care for Chemistry class when he was in high school, but he found the chemistry material in the on-line SWE Wine Academy to be fascinating. Good thing, too, because there will almost certainly be wine chemistry questions waiting for you on exam day (as there were for me). Some areas where it may help to concentrate your study time: Bacteria and wine faults, chemical composition of wine (both in the raw materials like grapes & skins, and in the finished product), and the uses of chemicals like sulfites in viniculture.
I hope this was a useful list for all of you CSW hopefuls out there. You can always contact the Dude if you’re looking for more advice. Good luck – and don’t forget your #2 pencils.
Here’s a little quiz for all of you out there in wine-land. What do you call a government that:
- Limits the choices of products available to its citizens by offering them only via government-run monopoly that has no incentive to provide competitive prices, good customer service, or expanded selection;
- Charges its citizens a premium for the “privilege” of the products limited choices & poor service, including taxation on goods already controlled by the government;
- Refuses to change archaic legislation that was enacted over 50 years ago, in order to protect its monopoly position & profits;
- Does nothing to alter its stance or comply with changing federal law, nearly three years after its current legislation has been deemed unconstitutional at both the federal and regional levels?
In most circles, the first two points could be considered Communism.
Technically, the later two points aren’t Communism, but I’d like to think that most people would at least consider them reprehensible…
Unfortunately, what I’ve described above is more-or-less what the state of Pennsylvania is doing in its wine trade, which is controlled by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Bucking the Law Means Big $$$ for States
Actually, now that I consider it, I haven’t been entirely honest with you so far. Since the Federal government ruled that PA’s liquor laws banning interstate trade were unconstitutional in 2005, the PLCB has done something. It’s made money. Approximately $3 billion dollars in sales (that’s Billion, with a “B“), in fact. That is roughly twice the GDP of the country of Liberia.
That’s big, big money. In the case of the PLCB, it’s record-setting sales money, all achieved while operating what has been determined an unconstitutional system.
This is not just impacting PA wine lovers (& wineries) – similar situations are playing out in other states. The ones who benefit are the middle-men (distributors and state governments). The ones who get the short end of the stick? That’s you & me, baby (and the people making our favorite beverages!).
Distributors are – not surprisingly – paying big money to protect this windfall. What is surprising is that those same groups are claiming that money is not the motivator in their efforts to protect the “three tier system” of wine shipping. $3 billion in 2 years, seemingly operating unconstitutionally, and it’s not about the money?!?? I don’t know how they can even say that with a straight face…
Whether You Know it or Not, You’re Being Taken for a Ride
If you live in one of the States that prohibits (or seriously discourages) direct shipping of wine, and you buy wine, then you’re getting screwed. Your wine choices are probably limited. You might have little (if any) recourse to purchase the wines that you want. And likely, you’re paying too much for the wines that you are able to get.
What You Can Do About It
Big money issues like this one will not go away on their own. They require that wine consumers who want a fair deal – people like you (and me) – fight back:
- Visit the Shipment Compliant blog to find out where your state stands, and to catch the latest news in the fight for fair wine shipping for your state.
- If you have a blog or website, read Tom Wark’s posts on fighting back and link to support Wine Without Borders.
- Visit (and support) FreeTheGrapes.org.
- Write to your state legislators and let ’em know how you feel! I have (many times) – and trust me, some of them will respond!