Posts Filed Under commentary

Wine Caves are NOT the Problem

Vinted on December 26, 2019 binned in commentary, wine news

Hopefully your holiday spirits, dear readers, will be in full swing this week and thus you’ll indulge me a bit of (non-partisan) political commentary.

During the most recent 2019 debate of Democratic party Presidential contenders, a rather sizeable hullabaloo was generated when, during the course of the proceedings, it was mentioned that Mayor Pete Buttigieg had held a rather expensive fundraiser at the Napa Valley wine cave of Craig and Kathryn Hall.

Reaction to the lavish location of the fundraiser has not been short on criticism. And the fundraiser deserves to be criticized; just not for its location.

The issue here is not that the fundraiser was held in a lavish wine cave with ultra-expensive vino on the menu; I mean, what the hell are we supposed to go to Napa for, after all? Luxurious environs, lavish meals, and super-premium wines are the entire f*cking point of Napa Valley’s lucrative tourism industry.

The trouble is much larger and far more important; we have a terrible history with big donor contributions in the USA’s current political system. The wine cave hatred is just another example of deflection, and piling on the lazy perception in the mainstream press of fine wine wine as douchebaggy.

Remove the locale from the scenario, and you see the real problem. Political candidates need lots of money to run in elections (including in ultra-partisan primaries). To get that money, they turn to big donors, and end up passing laws that allow even more money to be donated to them. The result is that those politicians need our votes not because we are their true constituency, but because they need to get into power via public elections in order to enact the agendas of their true constituents: the big-time donors. A not insignificant portion the political and social woes in the U.S. are directly and indirectly impacted by this scenario. Of course, wealthy individuals have just as much right to vote and choose candidates as anyone, but I think it can be successfully argued that they don’t deserve to have more influence over political agendas simply because they can afford to feed to the current (broken) system.

You want to rant and rave about the unfairness of the current status quo? Hey, I’m all for doing that. Go and do your part to support campaign finance reform. But the wine caves have precious little to do with it; so leave them out of it, because they’re merely a distraction from the bigger picture.





The Debate about Online Wine Influencers is a Stupid Waste of Time

Vinted on October 17, 2019 binned in commentary

If that headline above looks as though it could have come right out of 2009… well, it totally could have come right out of 2009.

Remember those good ol’ days? When wine brands were all in a tizzy about a new wave on influencers (at that time, bloggers) operating almost exclusively online.

How do we interact with these new presences in the wine media world? How can we tell if they are legitimate? How do we know if they have any real wine knowledge? What kind of audience are they reaching – and is it the kind that we want to reach? What if they want free stuff? What if they’re just hacks? How can we measure the real impact of their influence? Should we send them samples? Should we invite them to taste? Should we work with the ones that want to charge us for exposure? Will working with them put us into hot water with more traditional wine media? How the hell do we find these young whipper-snappers, anyways?

For a time, the introduction of wine blogs and the further democratization of wine criticism and brand exposure splintered the wine media sphere, upended its apple-cart, made waves of anxiety for those who’d spent the last ten years feeling somewhat comfortable about how the whole wine media thing operated.

For a time.

And then… life went on, wine kept being sold and marketed (albeit in changing ways), and online social/blogging outreach became just part of what you do in wine brand PR. We adapted. We got through it. We figured it out, for the most part.


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No, Burgundy Does NOT “Beat” the Stock Market

Vinted on September 19, 2019 binned in commentary
Hulk Rage
So. Much. STUPID!!!

Every year or so, I receive an unsolicited email blast from wine auction services that makes me want to Hulk rage. The 2019 incarnation of this comes my way from online auction house WineBid, is titled “16 Years of Burgundy vs. The Stock Market – and WineBid Auction Results,” and which I will only link to with the anchor text Probably Total Horseshit so as not to give them quite exactly the kind of organic social mention that they had in mind when they sent it.

In that WineBid article, which you probably shouldn’t bother reading, they make the claim that a report published by The Economist (using WineBid data) shows that “fine red Burgundy wine is a better investment by far than the stock market.”

Sorry, but that’s a steaming pile of horse crap of the tallest order.

Yes, they include cool-looking, impressive charts and lots of flowery language insinuating that if you love fine red wine then you’re an idiot for not considering it the world’s most impressive investment vehicle, so there’s that. But the problem is, well, that there are lots of problems with comparing the apples of proper investing to the oranges of owning fine wine, not to mention the issues with the report itself…

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When It Comes to Wine, Big Isn’t Evil – It’s Essential

Vinted on September 12, 2019 binned in commentary, wine news

During the past couple of weeks or so, an online kerfuffle ensued after wine writer and author Jamie Goode posted an eye-opening article on his blog detailing the massive size of some of the wine worlds largest industrial-size producers. They are, interestingly (and in a sort-of-capitalism-run-amok fail), all owned by one company: Gallo.

Goode’s take on the situation in more on the informational side, but the online reactions were mostly pitchforks-and-torches negative, with the ire planted squarely in the “Big = Bad!” mindset.

My friend Fred Swan penned a cogent, even-handed, level-headed piece in response to the online outcry, in which he extols the virtues of industrial-scale wines in consumer terms:

“Aficionados of “fine wine” may find …affordable, high-volume, big-brand bottlings too bold, too sweet, too simple, or not varietally representative. The wines aren’t made for those people. They’re made for specific, but very large. audiences, are made with intention, and made after considerable research and development by highly-trained people.”

My response today, on the other hand, will be neither level-headed nor even-handed, though hopefully it will be cogent enough for the detractors of industrial-scale wine to understand that they are acting like morons when they lash out against high-volume, low-cost wines as having no place in a modern wine market. The truth is that those high-volume, low-cost wines make up the majority of the fine wine market, and without them the high-end market would likely be in severe economic dire straights…

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