Posts Filed Under commentary

The Times They… Uhm… Have Changed, Actually (Intowine.com’s Top 100 Most Influential People In The US Wine Industry 2018)

Vinted on August 8, 2018 binned in commentary, wine news
Intowine.com top 100 2018

Image: Intowine.com

Folks, we’re getting old.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full five years since my friend, fellow wine competition judge, all-around decent guy, and prolific author Michael Cervin assembled the last edition of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry. So much has changed in those ensuing five revolutions around the Sun that it’s simply mind-boggling to consider the volume… wow, I’m only two minutes into penning this and I already need a drink…!

Intowine.com has recently published Michael’s 2018 version of that US wine biz influencer list, and as always the results are almost equal parts educational, seemingly-inevitable, and controversial (at least one of the names from this year’s list has been associated with infamous wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan). While I don’t have detailed insight into how this list gets constructed, I do know that Michael has, in previous incarnations, canvased industry professionals of various stripes regarding who they see as helping to (directly or indirectly) move the markets when it comes to wine, and frequency of mention from those results was a key determinant for if and where names are placed on the list.

I think it’s worth unpacking the results of the 2018 influencer list, and so unpack them we shall…

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Naked Wines And The Cult Of “Fake News”

Vinted on May 18, 2018 binned in commentary, wine news

One of the worst aspects of the current state of political “discourse” in the USA is the penchant of leaders in our government towards vocalizing complete and total falsehoods, whenever and however it furthers their individual and/or party agendas, with seemingly little consequence for their actions.

Where they deem it necessary, they also repeatedly use this tactic to undermine the credibility of any ideas or expert opinions that they find inconvenient to the forwarding of their agenda, even when those ideas and expert opinions are based on (as in the examples of climate change and global warming) data that are incontrovertible. One need not search far, wide, or for long to find examples of this, many of them technically qualifying as libel, slander, or defamation.

Just as the U.S. wine world is not immune from modern cultural and technological shifts, it is, alas, also not immune from this ridiculous embracing of falsehood over fact, or the downward spiral into the cult of “fake” news wherein “truthiness” trumps (pun intended) actual truth in a disgusting sociopathic display of partisan greed, good old fashioned idiocy, or (too often) both.

Interestingly, this trend may be more a factor of generational social shortcomings now that the Baby Boomers are more-or-less in charge of everything political in the USA (an argument made in a cogent and convincing – though albeit overly-opinionated and overly-lengthy – way by Bruce Cannon Gibney in his book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America). Having said that, in my view, analyzing the reasons behind this worrying trend isn’t nearly as acute a need as is applying the disinfectant of attention. I.e., calling out and rejecting the behavior adamantly and quickly; consider it the intellectual and moral equivalent of weeding, or maybe playing Whack-a-Mole.

Thankfully, that’s just what happened recently when Naked Wines was more-or-less forced to apologize for going as low as the current U.S. political discourse in some of its most recent marketing efforts

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Scores Still Kinda Suck – Now With More Better Science?

Vinted on March 21, 2018 binned in commentary

There’s been a good bit of discussion lately on the Global Interwebs over a recent blog post by the wine-data-focused David Morrison (to which I was alerted by intrepid friend-of-1WD Bob Henry).

In that post, Morrison puts the scores of two of Wine Spectator’s then-critics-both-named-James, James Laube and James Suckling, through the data-analysis wringer, focusing on scores they gave to wines as part of WS’s “Cabernet Challenge” of 1996.

Generally speaking, Morrison’s blog post, while enviably thorough, can justifiably be criticized as much ado about nothing, considering that no one in the right minds could draw any statistically relevant conclusions from such a small data set. The summary version is that he found a high level of disagreement in the scores that the two Jameses gave to the same wines. Morrison draws out some interesting suggestions from this finding, though, primarily about the use of numbers when evaluating wine quality; to wit (emphasis is mine):

“The formal explanation for the degree of disagreement is this: the tasters are not using the same scoring scheme to make their assessments, even though they are expressing those assessments using the same scale. This is not just a minor semantic distinction, but is instead a fundamental and important property of anything expressed mathematically. As an example, it means that when two tasters produce a score of 85 it does not necessarily imply that they have a similar opinion about the wine; and if one produces 85 points and the other 90 then they do not necessarily differ in their opinion.

So… where have we heard that before?

Oh, that’s right, we heard it right here on 1WD. Several times, actually…

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Thoughts On Instant Pot “Wine”

Vinted on March 1, 2018 binned in commentary
instant pot

Instant BAD idea in terms of fermentation vessels

A few of you intrepid 1WD readers have brought to my attention, in whoa-check-this-out-dude! fashion, the intrepid endeavors of foodie David Murphy, who recently blogged about using his popular-with-the-cool-kids Instant Pot to make wine from Welch’s Grape Juice.

I have some thoughts on this:

1. I admire the gumption, ingenuity, and persistence that Murphy displayed in making this Instant Pot wine thing actually happen. I mean, in a geeky, passionate, too-much-time-on-your-hands kind of way, this is brilliant and his tenacity and desire to learn and then put that learning into practice should be lauded.

2. No. Just… NO.

This is a bad idea for most wine lovers for many reasons, but for brevity’s sake I’m only going to focus on a couple of those reasons…

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