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Are Wine Clubs A Good Buy? (1WD on Mint.com)

Vinted on September 9, 2010 under about 1winedude blog, PLCB, wine buying

I was recently interviewed for an article that appeared on financial management website Mint.com’s Frugal Foodie blog, titled Will Joining a Wine Club Make or Break Your Budget.

The topic (obviously) was the potential financial implications of joining a wine club, and how to find the right club without getting fleeced. This was strange one for me; although (obviously) related to wine, the only experience I have with wine clubs is (enviously) assisting other people in selecting the best ones to fit their wine goals and budgets.

Wine Clubs: Minty fresh?That’s because I live in the Communist-wealth of Pennsylvania, whose state-run monopoly of alcohol sales and distribution essentially make joining a wine club, for me, impossible (or, at best, economically infeasible).

My basic take is that it’s probably never been easier to find good deals on a wine club.  Why?  For one, there’s a great deal of competition, despite the strange archaic state of  U.S. alcohol shipping laws – and there are even a good number of international wine clubs cropping up.  The other factor possibly fueling high competition and good deals in the wine club space is that there’s still a glut of wine inventory that has built up due to the down global economy.  My guess is that people can wheel-and-deal their way to some sweet buys with those wine clubs – at least until the market picks up.

One of the key differentiators (if not THE key) between wine clubs is customer service.  Given the level of competition, if a wine club isn’t willing to customize for you then it’s probably not worth giving them your hard-earned cash.

Many of you out there will have much more practical experience than I do with wine clubs.  Are you a wine club member?  Have you ever had to ditch a wine club?  Shout it out in the comments!

Cheers!

Planet of the Grapes, and “Going Publix” in Your Pocket

Vinted on September 2, 2010 under about 1winedude blog, wine review

In my ongoing effort to, uhm, branch out in the wine world (read: get paid), I’ve got myself involved in a couple more ‘extra-blogger’ activities that I thought I’d share.  They are geared more towards beginner (I know, I hate that term too, but I can’t manage a better one) wine enthusiasts and so I didn’t feel that they were a fit for 1WineDude.com, but some readers might find them interesting (or doubtless you will know someone who might – which might buy you a day or two of respite from those folks asking you for wine advice!).

First, I’ve contributed some wine recommendations to the Fall 2010 issue of Publix® Grape Magazine. My contribution was made so many months ago that I don’t in fact remember what I wrote for them… and I don’t live in a state that has a Publix… so any of you in the Southeast U.S. who can refresh my memory, please feel free to help me out… Anyway, if you live in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, or Alabama you can subscribe to receive the magazine for free.  Because, you know, free is a good price.

Second, you’ll start to see my reviews pop up on another iPhone app (also coming soon to Droid and Blackberry), Pocket Wine Assistant, in their new version.  Because, you know, one can never have too much 1WD in one’s pocket, right?   That, and I’m fond of over-extending myself.  Anyway, more to come on that when he new version is released.

Third, I’m contributing (ongoing, this time) to a very cool on-line Philadelphia food & drink publication called Table Matters. I’ll be penning articles in the awesomely-named Planet of the Grapes section (It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!), the first of which appeared last week.   Table Matters is a Philly-focused publication, so I’ll be covering wines available in the Philly/PA market.  Because, you know, I enjoy a challenge.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome – including story ideas for the Table Matters column (just don’t expect a cut of my fees…).

Cheers!
(images: publix.com, tablematters.com, pocketwineassistant.com)

The Otter Badgers of Wine Reviews: Joining the Wine Rating Revolution

Vinted on August 25, 2010 under about 1winedude blog, wine review

Sorry – couldn’t resist.  I mean, just look at those cute, furry-cuddly, viciously-fanged mammals over there!

I mean “other badges” of wine reviews, of course – in my case, I’m the late-comer to the wine badge review par-tay masterminded by Vintank; that is, late-comer in terms of getting my badges ready for prime-time (I was part of the “wine badgers” group from the conceptual phase).

What the hell are wine badges? Essentially, they are intended to be a visual way to help you identify a wine that I think has something “special” going on, beyond the quality ‘grade’ and mini-review that I might give to a wine when reviewing it.  Here’s the overview from Vintank brainiac Paul Mabray:

As with everything the digital arena is transforming everything we used to know about wine.  I am fortunate to watch a group of talented bloggers bucking tradition and judge wine on new merits by creating a whole new movement for scoring wine.  It seems like a small thing, create a category for a wine that you believe in and assign a badge to it, explain the criteria openly and transparently, and only give those wines that you appreciate fit that category a badge.  Simple, elegant, but more importantly a TRUE representation of the quality you admire in the categories you create.  A wine fits or it doesn’t.  A wine earns an accolade or it doesn’t.

It might help to think of the badges as a cross between a score and a medal, but with more awesome.  The cool thing is that the badges are already in use by Mark deVere, Ward Kadel and Steve Paulo. The badges aren’t yet standardized, which I personally think might come back to bite us in the tushie somehow, but in terms of distribution these puppies are primed for successHelloVino, Cruvee.com, and Yourwineyourway.com are already signed-on and using the badges, which thanks to their distro. system are automatically being included in content like winery Facebook pages.  We often talk about on-line technology having the potential to change  things in terms of the wine world – this is an example where the potential is starting to actually be realized.

Some great discussion on the badges available so far has popped up over at Vinotology and at DrinkNectar.com, and I left a comment in the DN thread that sums up my view and vision behind the badges, so I’m reprinting it here:

If I give a wine an A- or a B+, does that tell you much aside from my view of its quality? Not really. If I categorize a wine as ‘Elegant’ or ‘Sexy’ does that tell you much? It does – it tells you which wine to try if you want to impress someone, or in the latter case if you want to get lucky on a hot date. So, by giving a badge to wines that meet some kind of minimum standard, I’m hopefully telling people a bit more about that wine without them having to read the entire post or review or whatever (unless they are curious and want to do that). I see no conflict between the badges and scores of any kind. I see them primarily as complimentary.

The main criterion for a wine receiving a 1WD badge is that I give it a “grade” in the B or A range; after that, if I think that they meet the criteria for a particular badge then tat wine will be “awarded” one.

So at this point you’re probably thinking “enough already, what the f—k do these badges look like?!??”

Well, my friend, read on for the badges and their explanations…

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Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! (Brought to you by the Letter “W”)

Vinted on June 29, 2010 under about 1winedude blog

That about sums it up: THANK YOU!

I’ve just returned from Walla Walla, WA where I was both a panelist and attendee at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference.  As if that sentence didn’t contain enough Ws for you, I also was honored (and humbled) with the 2010 Wine Blog Award for Best Overall Wine Blog.

THANK YOU to all of those who nominated and voted for 1WineDude.com – and thanks especially the readers and frequent commenters who are the ones primarily responsible for making this blog as successful and fun as it is.  Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists – they are all great, great blogs that are well worth your time.

I also made a speech, for which I felt quite unprepared but it seemed to go over well enough. I met friends, old and new, and learned that when you wine a WBA and stand still for more than 2 minutes in a room with lots of PR folks, you will have some of those (less sensitive) PR people actively block your way to the bathroom in order to talk to you and get your business card.

I also got interviewed a lot (or at least it felt like a lot to me); a fun one with the Wine Biz Radio guys appears at the beginning of the embedded video below (followed by interesting interviews with lots of other bloggers, winemakers, and cool PR people).

I tasted some wines, of course, and visited some wineries, and hung out with some wine personalities, and I do plan to write about all of that; I also plan to write a tribute to my dog, Sam, who passed away while I was at the conference. But I need to decompress first, and process the whirlwind emotional roller-coaster of the weekend that was WBC and WBA.  And maybe remove the W key from my keyboards (not sure that last one is such a good idea, actually).  More to come; for now – there’s a ton of WBC coverage happening in the blog-o-world.

Thanks again; I will try to “do right” and reinforce the vote of confidence that you’ve been kind enough to give me!

(video after the jump)…

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