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Commentary | 1 Wine Dude - Page 50

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Reminder: Wine Knowledge Makes You a Sexy Beast!

Vinted on February 14, 2009 binned in commentary, wine news

Happy Valentine’s Day, all you hot-blooded lov87ers out there!

I was talking about wine lovers, of course… what were you thinking??

Given all of the Dude’s travel and wine blogging migration work recently, I will be spending a nice quiet night at home with my ladies (Mrs. Dudette and our little Dudette-let).   And of course a special bottle of wine (probably C. Donatiello‘s Rose – don’t look for it, they only give it out to friends of the winery).

I wanted to take the time to remind you all that wine knowledge makes you sexier.  Read the linked post – I’m not makin’ this stuff up!

Cheers – and Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Mile High (Wine Disappointment) Club

Vinted on February 9, 2009 binned in commentary


Flying back to the States from the U.K. this past weekend, visions of Steelers touchdown passes dancing in my head, something occurred to me.

Actually, a few things occurred to me:

  • Flying West into the sunset (or East into a sunrise) at several thousand feet is a visual treat of unmatched proportions, with the cloud horizon fading gently from burning orange to pink, purple, blue, and finally the star-speckled obsidian black of space. Sort of like the visual equivalent to the flavors in a glass of sublime red wine.
  • Business and First class aside, the wines offered on most airlines totally suck.

At least, this has been my experience.

Not that I haven’t had decent wine while flying in an aircraft – it’s just that I’ve onl had decent wine while traveling in First or Business class.

What I don’t quite understand is, given the proliferation of very good wine at very low prices, why the stock isn’t better. Just because those in coach class are resigned to the fact that they will be herded around like sky-bound cattle doesn’t mean that they want to drink like sky-bound cattle.

Not that I’m 100% sure exactly what wine a sky-bound bovine would drink… but let’s just agree that it probably wouldn’t be a discriminating choice, ok?

International carriers seem to have a leg up (glass up?) in the area of better-than-average in-flight wine offerings.

The venerable UK wine icon Jancis Robinson had been making wine picks for British Airways. Interestingly, some of the best wine choices available mid-flight are offered by airlines operating from countries that are not known for their wine – or so say the results of a 2007 wine competition by Global Traveler (which, also interestingly, only covered Business Class). Tops in that group were Taiwan’s EVA, Thai Airways International, and Gulf Air (from the Kingdom of Bahrain). Not exactly powerhouses on the world winemaking stage (at least not yet).


Still, it’s not all gloom and doom (and plonk), I suppose. Canadian wine writer Natalie McLean has detailed some of the better in-flight wine options offered (mostly on international long-haul flights), and last year the much maligned US Airways upgraded their wine list.

What’s
YOUR experience? Have you had more plonk or more perfection a mile high?

Cheers!
(
images: travel.webshots.com, tonyrogers.com, popsop.com, tinnong24h.com)

The Rise of Snooth.com (or "Get on the Virtual Wine Bus, Already!")

Vinted on February 4, 2009 binned in commentary, wine buying


Now this is interesting. Well, interesting to me, anyway:

Venerable Internet tech. news site TechCrunch recently profiled Snooth.com (I’m an affiiate, so it caught my eye), detailing its growing popularity, and its impressive ability to secure angel funding during a very dank, dark, and dastardly economic climate. Getting featured on TechCrunch is newsworthy enough in and of itself, and the whole event garnered the attention of Kaz & Randy at WineBizRadio.com. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting (I say “chat” because he’s British) with Snooth.com founder Philip James on a few occasions, and he is a generally approachable and nice fellow, so Snooth’s success has been fulfilling to witness from a distance.

Apparently, according to TechCrunch and Snooth.com itself, Snooth.com is now the largest and fastest growing (in terms of website visits) wine community website. SNooth is now even bigger than Wine.com, which lacks the social media aspects of Snooth, and is still battling perception issues from over a year ago when they arguably put their own interests well above those of wine consumers and retailers.

What I found most interesting about the recent Snooth.com lovefest was not Snooth’s success, but how the website has been classified.

TechCrunch called it a social wine review site.”

While this is certainly true, it’s not the complete picture.

Folks, let’s be clear: Snooth is in the business of selling wine. I know that it says on their home page that they don’t sell wine. And they don’t – not directly. But the fact is that they are in the business of getting wine into your hands, through retailers whose selections are featured in their search results.

And they do it well enough – and integrate it so well with the best aspects of social wine networking (sharing reviews and recommendations) – that they are seeing huge success during a time when being relevant on the Internet at all means being involved in social networking.

Snooth.com is not the Future of Internet wine salesit’s the Present. If you want to sell wine on-line (despite the headache introduced by arcane and unconstitutional state-run alcohol distribution monopolies getting in your way), then you’d better well understand the model that Snooth.com is quietly (well, not so quietly now I suppose) perfecting.

The King (wine.com) is dead. Long live the King (Snooth.com)!

Cheers!
(images: snooth.com)

Judging the Judges: Study Shows Wine Judges Aren’t That Reliable (or does it…?)

Vinted on January 27, 2009 binned in commentary, learning wine, wine tasting


The Journal of Wine Economics has just published a study authored by Robert T. Hodgson titled An Examination of Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition. The reported findings should make the fodder for about 10,000 wine blog articles over the next few weeks.

The study tracked the ability of wine competition judges to replicate the scores that they gave to wines (during blind tasting competition) at the California State Fair. The study found that (emphasis is mine):

…judges were perfectly consistent… about 18 percent of the time. However, this usually occurred for wines that were rejected. That is, when the judges were very consistent, it was often for wines that they did not like

Let the blood-letting commence!

I fear that the media will take hold of this and start to sound the death knell for the ability of so-called experts to taste and rate wines (again), or use it to shake up an already arguably unfavorable view that wine appreciation and competition is the height of snobbery.

Neither are true, and this study does little to bolster either point. Why? Because wine tasting is, at its heart, heart a subjective exercise.

The study is clear on its intentions, which was not to shake up the world of wine competition, but to “provide a measure of a wine judge’s ability to consistently evaluate replicate samples of an identical wine. With such a measure in hand, it should be possible to evaluate the quality of future wine competitions using consistency as well as concordance with the goal to continually improve reliability and to track improvements associated with procedural changes…”

To understand why this study doesn’t ring so true with me, I need to give you a little detail on the mechanics of the study:

When possible, triplicate samples of all four wines were served in the second flight of the day randomly interspersed among the 30 wines. A typical day’s work involves four to six flights, about 150 wines… The judges first mark the wine’s score independently, and their scores are recorded by the panel’s secretary. Afterward the judges discuss the wine. Based on the discussion, some judges modify their initial score; others do not. For this study, only the first, independent score is used to analyze an individual judge’s consistency in scoring wines.

In summary: the judges weren’t consistent when faced with tasting hundreds of wines in a day, and there revised scores (based on panel discussion – which can have a huge impact on how you would evaluate a wine) weren’t used.

If the study proves anything, I think shows that trying to judge hundreds of wines in a day is a first-class non-stop ticket to palate fatigue, even for experienced wine judges.

Now that I think about it, blind tasting is so notoriously difficult that I give the judges in this study credit for being consistent almost 20% of the time. That would be a respectable hitting percentage in baseball (not sure… I don’t follow baseball actually)…

While the media may latch onto this one, the study hinted that there is some modicum of possible salvation for the madness surrounding wine competitions in general – not by way of wine judges, but by way of the ultimate judges of wine: the Consumer.

…a recent article in Wine Business Monthly (Thach, 2008) conducted as a joint
effort by 10 global universities with specialties in wine business and marketing found that consumers are not particularly motivated by medals when purchasing wine in retail stores. If consumer confidence is to be improved, managers of wine competitions would be well advised to validate their recommendations with quantitative standards.

Interesting conclusion. And a hopeful one.

Cheers!
(images: legaljuice.com, wine-economics.org)

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