By the time this post is published, I’ll be kicking off the wine touring portion of my German press junket trip, sponsored by the German Wine Institute and the European Union. If you happen to be a taxpayer in an EU-participating country, I’d like to take this opportunity to think you for letting your government spend your hard-earned Euros to send me back to the beautiful wine regions of Germany. It’s a bit of a publicity full-court press on the part of the Destination Riesling program, as this trip coincides with Riesling Week 2009, which will see restaurants in major U.S. markets featuring Riesling wines from Germany, Alsace, and Austria.
I’m pretty sure I know how the Destination Riesling program (those are the folks organizing all this flurry of Riesling activity) got my name, but I’m currently completely clueless as to why they selected me as one of the journalists included on this junket. If it looks like a journalist, acts like a journalist, and smells like a journalist, but it isn’t trained as a journalist and doesn’t make its living as a journalist, is it actually a journalist?
Given the hoopla in the wine world regarding the topic of press freebies in general, I’m looking forward the discussions and debates that my mere presence on this trip might generate (hey, as a blogger, I’m an easy target!). I’m also excited to see what, if any, coverage comes out of this jaunt for the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com. It’s very likely that if I do write about the press junket aspects, I will be changing the names of the other attendees (a rare occurrence of prudence on my part!)…
Since posting here may be a bit sporadic in the short-term, I’m lining up some pre-written material for the early part of the week. Given the junket, it seemed logical to cover German wine in some way today to kick-off the week, and when I think of German wine, one word comes to mind quickly.
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You really like my limousine
You like the way the wheels roll.
You like my seven inch leather heels
and coming to all of the shows.
Do you love me?
– KISS, Do You Love Me (from Destroyer, 1976)
The American Association of Wine Economists has released another working paper, which often is great fodder for wine-related discussion, unless of course you want to talk about the wine itself. And it might piss some women wine lovers off…
This particular working paper, No. 25, is titled “WHEN DOES THE PRICE AFFECT THE TASTE? RESULTS FROM A WINE EXPERIMENT” and details an experiment performed on approximately 130 people (average age: 29) to measure how knowledge of a price of a bottle of wine impacts people’s perception of that wine (good or bad). The experiment gave three different scenarios to the subjects:
- Taste then Rate the wine with no price info. given (control).
- Give the Price, taste, then rate the wines.
- Taste the wine, give the price, then rate the wine.
There were some interesting findings from this little study, including a reinforcement of the subjective nature of tasting wine:
“Objective measures of wine quality are not easily defined, and consumer tastes with regard to wine are highly heterogeneous…”
as well as what seems like the AAWE’s obligatory dig at professional wine tasters and judges (they love to do this, I think):
“Tasters are only marginally better than a random guess at distinguishing vintage years from non-vintage years from the same vineyard, or reserve bottlings from regular bottlings from the same vineyard and year, despite very large differences in price.”
and an underscoring of a not-so-revolutionary finding that seems to have been proven for nearly any kind of marketed consumer good:
“…extrinsic information provided prior to first-hand experience with the good in question has a significant effect of how the good is experienced, whereas extrinsic information provided after the experience does not.”
WARNING: Some women may want to stop reading at this point.
The most interesting finding was the gender bias that the AAWE claims resulted during the study.
“…an expensive wine gets considerably higher ratings when tasters are informed about the high price before tasting, relative to tasting “blind” – but only from female tasters. By contrast, women that taste the wine before being told the price do not assign significantly higher ratings, suggesting that once they form a first-hand opinion the attribute information has little effect.”
It seems that some women at least think that they prefer expensive wine, even if the wine they’re given is not really expensive. In other words, Chicks dig pricey wine (even if it’s not really pricey)!
The finding is interesting but I’m guessing it would hardly prove a revelation to any guy who has ever lied to a date about the price of wine and dinner.
Now, I know what some of you guys are probably thinking.
“Egads! Does she really love me, or just my expensive wine?!??”
Take heart, guys – the wine doesn’t have to really be expensive, she just needs to think that it’s expensive!
But seriously, before any wineries out there up their prices, put a picture of a shirtless hot guy on the label, and contact their marketing department to start running commercials during Desperate Housewives – you all need to know a few things about this AAWE study.
As far as I’m concerned, the study isn’t scientifically reliable, and supports no real conclusions, until such time as it’s repeated (possibly with larger & larger subject groups). Otherwise, it’s just guessing based on a very small sample size.
So – guys with deep pockets and deep cellars, don’t dump your better halves just yet. Because chances are they are really just that – your better halves!
(images: hollywood-elsewhere, wine-economics.org)
I need to go on record right now that I hate Jeff Lefevere*.
Why do I hate Jeff… Well, for one, he has the best-looking wine blog in all of the blog-o-world. If his blog design were a person, it would be Warren Beatty, and it would walk around with a smile and a demure but slightly aloof stance, confident that your wife would do him in a heartbeat and not even think twice about you or your kids, because he’s just that cool.
He (I mean Jeff, not the personified Beatty-esque incarnation of Jeff’s blog) is also a phenomenally talented writer; his prose puts the writing on the majority of wine blogs (including some of those penned by professional writers) to shame.
So, there’s jealousy, That’s clearly one reason.
Also, I don’t understand at all his Vin de Napkin comics, and it pisses me off that I’m possibly too dumb to appreciate them.
I guess that’s also jealously?
Anyway, after today, Jeff pissed me off even more because he’s managed to host the only Wine Blogging Wednesday topic that has completely stumped me (I’m not usually at a loss for words… like, ever…). The theme is “California Inspiration,” which Jeff intended to be a homage to the late and inspirational CA wine icon Robert Mondavi, as this week marks the first anniversary of Mondavi’s passing.
The idea is that we should recount a moment of inspiration, a story centering around a specific wine.
Jeff… you magnificent bastard… you have stumped me. Why? Because while capturing the essence of a fleeting inspirational moment in time might be a talented trained journalist’s idea of a writing warm-up exercise, it’s a bear of an activity for hacks like me.
Curse you, Lefevere! May the fleas of one thousand camels infest your armpits!!!
* – Note: I don’t actually hate Jeff Lefevere. In fact, he is an extremely nice guy with whom I had the pleasure of hanging out during the first Wine Bloggers Conference. I’m just stalling because I don’t have a wittier intro.
Wait. I take that back. I actually do have a story. So, I need to go on record right now that I no longer hate Jeff Lefevere.
You know, if it weren’t for two winemakers, and two specific wines, I might not be writing to you right now.
A few months ago (circa September 2008), I had contemplated giving up wine blogging entirely. I loved writing, and I loved wine. But I wasn’t sure that wine blogging was going to be viable for me. I had a full-time career at a big CPG company. My daughter was on the way. I loved playing in the band, and didn’t see myself curtailing those activities or short-changing my kid in the battle for my non-work time. I was pretty sure that wine blogging was going to have to go (it wasn’t exactly paying the bills, either).
There were new wine blogs cropping up pretty much every week. It was a crowded field, and while the majority of those that I’d met who were involved with wine were amazing people, there were enough ‘bad apples’ gunnin’ for me that I felt a little… battle weary.
Then, I got contacted by the staff at Opus One and Penns Woods wineries – two of the finest purveyors of red wine on both coasts – to tour their wineries. Why did they ask me to do this? Because of my writing on 1WineDude. The results of those visits sparked something in my pea-sized, alcohol-wizened brain. “I’m just some punk kid from Delaware – what the hell was I doing talking to these amazing winemaking teams? Holy crap, I’d better take this thing more seriously.”
After getting uber-wine-geeky with Opus One’s Michael Silacci and Penns Woods’ Gino Razzi, I recounted the experiences in the virtual pages of 1WineDude, and put their wines head to head in a blind tasting. Links to the resulting posts are below, and they remain some of my favorites, probably because they convinced me not to hang up the wine bloggin’ spurs:
Since that time, 1WineDude has seen steady and progressive modest success, whether you measure it in terms of income, traffic, subscribers, or – best of all – in the number of readers, bloggers, industry folk, and winemakers that I consider to be friends. If I’d given up last year, I’d have missed out on a crazy amount of life-expanding and enriching experiences. Finding the right balance between family, career, music, and wine is a constant struggle for me – but the rewards on all fronts are worth the effort.
So in my case, we have a sort of minor tragedy turned into a sort of minor victory. Thanks to two wines. Sort of.
(images: sacbee.com, 1WineDude)