Posts Filed Under commentary
Recently, the Drinks Business reported that, according to Vin-X’s head of procurement Martin Pruszynski, “fine wine investment has been the best overall performer when total growth across major asset classes since 1988.”
No no no no no no NO.
It seems that almost every year I write this retort. My view on this has not changed one iota in the last twelve months, despite Martin Pruszynski’s assessment that fine wine prices have outpaced the Dow Jones and S&P 500. The Vin-X findings are, in my opinion, closer to smoke-and-mirrors than to anything substantial.
Bear in mind that I am NOT an investment expert, and therefore I am NOT offering any true investment advice here. But I did semi-retire (in terms of being able to switch career gears) at the age of 40, so make your own assessment of how well I manage money, and the value of my opining on the subject. And my opining in a nutshell is that “investing” in fine wine (in terms of hoping it will accrue in value, and that you will actually be able to realize that gain) is basically a a really, really poor way to utilize your money…
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If you read Lettie Teague’s recent WSJ column entry, titled How Millennials Are Changing Wine, you will find some interesting data suggesting that Millennials are not, in fact, changing wine nearly as much as many of us think that they are.
First, you’ll have to wade through polemics such as the opening quote from New York sommelier Jason Jacobeit, who decries his generation’s focus on feeling connected to a brand when it comes to purchasing wine: “A lot of mediocre wine is being sold on the basis of a story.”
I’ve got news for you, Jason: “a lot” is too subjective a term (a lot of money to me, for example, isn’t a lot of money to Bill Gates), and “mediocre” even more so, but based on what we know from real wine sales numbers, a lot of wine that we might generously call “so-so” or “mind-numbingly-boring” is sold to every generation of wine drinkers, in volumes that far eclipse what we might collectively think of as higher quality – or at least more interesting – vino.
Back to Teague’s WSJ piece: I’d also advise you to skip the latter section of the article, in which Lettie recounts a tasting with a “mini-focus group” of millennial wine drinkers. Given that this group consisted of “two men and two women ranging in age from 25 to 32,” it’s laughably dangerous from a statistical standpoint to draw any conclusions whatsoever on millennial wine drinking habits from the results of their conversation.
The real meat of the WSJ article lies in the sneak peek that it gives to an August Wine Opinions study of 2,634 wine drinkers, spanning in age groups from Millennial to Gen X to Baby Boomer. Through that study’s results, we get some fascinating insights into how U.S. wine drinkers actually approach buying their wine…
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In what apparently is Pennsylvania’s latest attempt to prove that it is, in fact, the single worst state in the Union for wine lovers, a recent ruling by Chester County Judge Edward Griffith has put the kibosh on saving a few thousand bottles of wine confiscated from resident Arthur Goldman (who was caught in a sting operation and charged with buying wine outside of the PA state monopoly system, and selling wine in the state without a license). Sorry, but getting angry makes me write run-on sentences, ok?
Through the ruling, the judge Griffith has paved the way for dumping of the confiscated wine (much of which is top-notch stuff), pissing off the state’s wine lovers. The ruling also denies a request by nonprofit Chester County Hospital to have the wine sold to benefit the hospital (presumably, pissing off everyone else in the state, too).
A quote from the judge:
“Since the liquor code makes no provision for condemned wine to be sold for any purpose, the wine may not be delivered to a hospital for sale.”
We cannot fault the judge for upholding current law, since that’s his job. And that law – the PA liquor code – exists, in theory, to control the flow of alcohol in Pennsylvania, and, you know, protect the children! Like the children that are served by… Chester County Hospital!
Ostensibly, however, the PA liquor code seems to be more and more a vehicle to protect the money coming in to the state’s coffers from the alcohol sales controlled by the PA Liquor Control Board. You know, the same board that serves PA’s wine-buying public by spending taxpayers’ dollars inefficiently; instituting expensive, failed initiatives that it’s unclear are even wanted by its customers; selling wine that has been shown to have high levels of arsenic; and committing fraud.
In other words, I don’t think that Pennsylvania is going to be upgrading its wine consumer advocacy grade of “F” anytime soon.
Because I am divorcing someone at fault, I have been on the receiving end of revisionist history, even when it seeks to conform to a false, self-serving narrative of cognitive dissonance.
It turns out, however, that revisionism towards an agenda of mollifying cognitive dissonance (“yeah, I did that nasty sh*t, but I am different and it’s ok because…”) is actually one of the core elements of a properly functioning human memory.
As strange as this may sound initially, revisionist memory is the reason why I am always carrying around pen and notebook when tasting wine, my friends, and why I think that any budding wine nerd needs to do the same (or an equivalent) when they are getting serious about appreciating wine (let alone criticizing it). Because if you’re anything like the majority of the human population (and, trust me, you are), then your memory is… well… crap.
Not only is your memory poor at capturing actual details as they happened (this includes about wine), it is an ever-changing, malleable storytelling machine, constantly revising and rewriting history, filling in the blanks between factual details in order to preserve whatever narrative best reduces any dissonance between what actually went down, and your (most likely overly-inflated) internal view of your self…
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