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Commentary | 1 Wine Dude - Page 47

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Is High-Alcohol California Wine Inevitable (Robert Parker’s Bitch, Redux)

Vinted on March 17, 2009 binned in California wine, commentary

“The industry has done everything wrong” – Paul Wagner

Well… this is interesting!

1WineDude friend, winemaker and fellow wine blogger Josh Hermsmeyer of PinotBlogger.com makes an appearance in Tina Caputo’s new web documentary, Robert Parker’s Bitch

The documentary that takes an informative and entertaining look at the subject of whether or not California winemakers are making wines for Consumers, for themselves, or are producing busty high-alcohol bombs in order to chase the almighty dollar that comes from pleasing the palates of a few wine critics, thus achieving an influential high point score and subsequent boost in sales.

Many excellent and educated opinions are offered from standout figures in the California wine world, including author Karen MacNeil, winemaking icon Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards, and my new marketing hero, Paul Wagner of Balzac Communications. 

Let’s just say that the topic is… complicated

And the documentary takes an admirable stab at trying to breakdown enough of the complexity to make the topic palatable.  Personally, I loved it, despite the lack of explosions, fist-fights, and nudity.

The vid is worth checking out if only to hear the comments of Paul Wagner, who clearly understands the topic at it’s most fundamental levels and matter-of-factly (and correctly) states that the wine industry has basically gotten wine marketing wrong for long, long time – and that there is a new generation of wine lovers emerging that don’t give a crap about scores, established critics, or the “rules” or wine appreciation / recommendation.

Amen, brother!

The 25-minute gem is embedded below – highly recommended.

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Robert Parker’s Bitch from Josh Hermsmeyer on Vimeo.

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Cheers!

I Hate The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Vinted on March 12, 2009 binned in commentary, PLCB

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I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

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A Love Letter

Vinted on March 9, 2009 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary

This is not an article about wine, per se.

It’s more an article about what it takes for me to write about wine.  It’s a love letter, really.  And a long overdue one, at that.

If I had to sum it all up, for those of you who won’t get past this sentence, I really just want to say Thank You to my wife, Kerri, because without her this forum for discussion of all things wine-related (1WineDude) simply would not exist.

Now, there are a ton of things for which I could (should) be thanking my wife.  First, she’s gorgeous and there is no doubt that she plays a significant part (as in, > 99%) in making me look good (case in point: she is somehow in better shape after the birth of our daughter than she was in before she became pregnant).  She’s a great cook, to the point that I don’t really miss red meat in my diet because her food is so damn tasty.  She’s conscientious, which I’m not, and so she has saved me from countless embarrassing social situations and possible lost friendships.

But there are two reasons above all others that on most days make me fall in love with her all over again.

1) I recently asked my wife if she thought it was odd that I pursue such geeky passions, while she doesn’t seem to have any nearly as geeky.  E.g., I am total fan-boy for the Steelers and the band Rush, and my side-job as a musician takes up significant portion of my free time – that is, it takes up most of the time left over after I spend hours researching and writing articles for 1WineDude, which indulges my geeky passion for wine.

Now, I know it helps that my wife loves wine (she’s just not as geeky as I am when it comes to learning about terroir, chasing after obscure grape varieties, and waxing philosophic on whether or not green pepper notes is or is not a fault in Chilean reds).  When a wine sample shipment arrives at our door, her eyes light up almost as brightly as my daughter’s when she sees the intro. credits to an episode of Baby Einstein.

Anyway, Ker’s response was that she loves the fact that I get to indulge my geeky passions and is proud of the successes that I’ve had in each of them (no matter how minor).  And, in fact, she pointed out that she does have a geeky passion of her own – one that happens to take up most of her waking hours (and what should be non-waking for both of us).  Which brings me to reason #2…

2) My wife is an amazing mother. She has had some great role models for motherhood in our families, but we don’t really have any seasoned expert grandmothers locally who can help us out with the little things on a daily basis.  And it’s the little things, that somehow seem to come naturally my wife as a mother, that amaze me.  The way she instinctively senses what mood our daughter is in.  The smile that our daughter gives her first thing in the morning.  They sound like simple things, and they are, but I find myself continually awed by them.  My wife just seems to know what to do with this little human, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have helping my daughter to grow into a person in this crazy world.

So, now we know why I’m crazy in love with my wife.

I expect to possibly get flamed for being majorly soppy on the virtual pages in 1WineDude, but I don’t give a damn because it’s about time that my wife heard (read) all of this.

Okay… Time to open one of those special bottle of Champagne I’ve been saving for her…

Cheers!

(images: 1WineDude.com)

Serve or Die: The Importance of Wine Service in Today’s Economy

Vinted on March 4, 2009 binned in commentary

The economy is in the toilet.

Not exactly a news flash, right?

So why does it seem to be such a revelation to wine bars, restaurants, an wine tasting rooms that they are in a battle for their very survival in this economic crisis?  I say revelation because so few of the ones that I run into seem to get it, in terms of understanding that raising the bar on their service might be an important survival tactic in today’s economy.

Poor wine-related service has been the focus of a few recent posts in the blog-o-world (e.g., see Wine Diver Girl’s “Hospitality Fail”), and I myself had a recent misadventure at a local wine bar / restaurant (which shall remain nameless but not anonymous) whose wine service has been on the skids since the departure of their wine director some months ago.

Certainly these days if you are in the wine service industry, then you are in a battle of survival for the fittest.  And what’s the evolutionary genetic mutation that will give you superiority to weather this economic storm over your rivals?

In a word: Better Service.

Crap.  That’s two words.

Anyway,  that’s the message that I took away from the excellent February issue of Sommelier Journal, which should absolutely be your field guide for any journey deep into the wine geek forest.  Not about “better service” being two words (I didn’t need the magazine to tellme that one), but about raising the bar on service being the equivalent to holding the high position on the ebenemy in this war for the ever-shrinking  dollars of customers’ disposable incomes. Ah, you know what I mean…

The February issue of SJ is dedicated entirely to the topic of bettering wine-related service – and not a moment too soon.  There are a number of standout articles offered up in February’s release, but the items that resonated the most with me were penned by former Roy’s wine director (and now consultant) Randy Caparoso:

The old approach of accumulating the biggest, most all-encompassing wine list possible has grown, well, old, and, in times like these, is about as useful as burning money… The battle for survival in 2009 may well hinge on improving the experience of our guests.

Sage advice.  It’s not rocket science, but it needs to be said loud and clear because it’s never been more true than in the economic downturn of 2009.

Randy should know – he’s been in the service business for, well, for about forever:

“When I started at 18, 19 years old, I was working with 40-, 50-, sometimes 60-year-old people who had been doing it since before I was born. That doesn’t exist any more, so in this day and age, service has to be well defined.”

Bingo.  This is NOT difficult to do – it’s only difficult to do consistently.  But your establishment’s life just might depend on it.

Getting a leg up on your competition might be as simple as offering better and more friendly service than your competition, even if you change nothing else about how you do business.  And it costs essentially nothing to get that started.

Back to Randy:

In a recession, improving service is the most cost-efficient path to success. You can kill ’em day and night on the floor, but service begins long before the guests walk in; in terms of a wine program, it means a list that not only enhances the cuisine, but is also readable and friendly. If you’re too lazy to offer descriptions of your best selections, or so naive as to think the majority of your guests actually enjoy wading through page after page of phone-book-like listings, you have only yourself to blame if you succumb to this battle that’s rattling our windows.”

Having a staff that’s not only friendly, they’re also knowledgeable about the wines on the menu and how they pair with your restaurant’s cuisine?  Sweet!  If I were in the service biz, I wouldn’t be considering that a luxury.

I’m well aware that these ideas are conceptually simple but sometimes difficult to deliver consistently well in practice.

Sure, it takes time and effort to train the staff, and to keep them educated, but your guests are now expecting this level of service – and if you don’t deliver it, your competition just might.

And then, well… you’re S.O.L.

Survival of the fittest.

Anyone in the wine service industry would do well to check out that February edition of Sommelier Journal.   Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

Cheers!

(images: sommelierjournal.com, jaunted.com, sfist.com)

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