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His Own Legacy: Paul Newman (1925 – 2008)

Vinted on September 29, 2008 binned in best of, commentary

This is a post about wine. Sort of.

Actually, it’s more a celebration of all things Bad-Ass.

That’s because we just lost one of the most bad-ass individuals who has ever walked the face of the earth – Paul Newman.

Of Newman’s bad-ass status, there can be no doubt. Google “Baddass actors Paul Newman” and you will get about 11,000 hits. In his heyday, Newman was the Brad Pitt of his time, only without the annoyingly smug and self-possessed attitude, and with millions of dollars of world-enhancing charity goodness thrown in to seal the deal.

If Chuck Norris is bad-ass (and he is), there is no question that he is second generation bad-ass, having learned his key bad-assness traits from the master, Newman.

Newman was so bad-ass that he was able to make dog treats for very small yappy dogs, salad dressing, and even wine (ah-ha! finally, a tie-in!), and still remain a total bad-ass


How is the wine? I’ve never tried it myself, as it’s available only in restaurants I think, but the reviews suggest that his Chardonnay is a winner, and it pairs best with movie popcorn, which of course you need to have on hand when watching one of Newman’s bad-ass films (like Slapshot).

Nothing against Chardonnay, but let’s face it – outside of Burgundy it’s taken a hit in terms of bad-ass status because of the super-buttery treatment it received for the last few years by New World winemakers.

If your best wine is a white (not the typical pick of the bad-ass male), and it’s a Chardonnay, and you’re still a bad-ass, then you are a bad-ass indeed!

So this week, crack open a bottle of something bad-ass, fix yourself some popcorn, pop in one of Newman’s bad-ass flicks, and take a moment to celebrate the life of a true bad-ass: star, entertainer, family man, and philanthropist.

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com)

Wine 1.7rc3 (Why Wine 2.0 Isn’t Quite There… Yet)

Vinted on September 24, 2008 binned in commentary, twitter, wine 2.0

Web 2.0 - the two-fer, el internet dos, the big web deuce.

You understand it totally, right?

Me neither! Good – that means we can embark on this here post together without any pretense… you know, we don’t have to pretend like we work at the Apple Store Genius bar.

Anyway, my interpretation of Web 2.0 can be summed up in one phrase: the architecture of participation. 200% clear, right?

Yeah, I still don’t get it, either. Put another way, Web 2.0 is the moniker given to the fact that the Internet is no longer a place where people consume information. Instead, those people now expect to help create that information, to be connected in new and interesting (and instant!) ways, and to have their voices heard – by each other, and by the companies whose products they consume. According to Wikipedia, Web 2.o websites “may have an ‘Architecture of participation’ that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.”

OK, now that makes more sense.

So what does this have to do with wine? Man, I’ve been asking myself that question for the past 5 or 6 days, ever since I got back from the Wine 2.0 expo held last week in New York City.

Just like Web 2.0, the term Wine 2.0 has taken on several meanings. Dude’s interpretation (and this could way, way wrong) is that Wine 2.0 is supposed to describe how the web is putting more power into the hands of wine consumers; i.e., it’s the nexus of wine, Internet technology, and the wine lovers.

After attending the Wine 2.0 expo, I’m not sure that the Wine 2.0 movement is quite ready for prime time. It’s on the right track, but it’s more like Wine 1.7 rc 3 – you know, the interim bug-fixes release that is a teaser for the the really cool functionality you’re expecting in the next version. Allow me to explain…


I’m not saying that the Wine 2.0 event wasn’t a blast (it was), or that the organizers, vendors, and attendees weren’t great peeps (they were), or that the venue wasn’t cool (it was; despite the fact that they couldn’t provide us with extension cords… at a technology event… oh, the irony…).

What I am saying is that for an event that showcases the nexus of wine consumers, wine vendors, and the tech that brings them together, there were a lot of wine consumers, tasting a lot of wine vendor products. There just wasn’t a lot of tech bringing them both together.

Like, for example, extension cords (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Of course, I do realize (and was repeatedly reminded during the evening) that wine producers are fundamentally farmers, and theirs is not usually the realm of Internet-based tech. BUT… I expected a more substantial showing anyway (call me a dreamer…).

Having said that, things in Wine 2.0 land are far from dire. There was some interesting tech going on at Wine 2.0 NYC – there just wasn’t as much of it as I thought there would – or should – be.

Now, I’m about to tell you about two interesting pieces of wine-related tech that were on full display at Wine 2.0 NYC. I happen to be associated in some way/shape/form with both of them. BUT… before you write my next few paragraphs off as naive, starry-eyed manipulated commentary, both of these items happened to be mentioned by C|net – who, I sincerely hope, knows a bit more about what’s interesting in the world of tech than I do. Don’t take my word for it – check out the C|net video coverage for yourself. So I couodl be biased, or I could just be way ahead of my time (yes, I do feel vindicated actually, thank-you-very-much):

  1. Twitter Taste Live -Now this is what I call connecting wine and people via tech! I was invited to participate in the live wine tasting (hosted by BinEndsWine.com) at the event, which was an easy sell for me since a) I was already going(on my own dime) & b) if I hadn’t gone to Wine 2.0, I’d still have participated in the TTL (as I’ve done every time since its inception). Why? It’s f–king fun, that’s why. Where else can you get people all over the globe tasting the same wines at the same time, sharing their reactions and chatting with the wine producers live? (the answer is nowhere, by the way). As odd as “virtual” wine tasting sounds, it absolutely rocks the house – and the 140 character limit of twitter helps to prevent any one person from dominating the conversation. This, to me, is exactly what Web 2.0 is all about – not only do they have a good thing going, they’re trying to continually up the ante and take it further (which puts some pressure on me, since I’ll be co-hosting TTL at some point in the next few months… uh-oh… better get woodshedding…).

  2. Snooth.com – The team at Snooth has been trying to push the boundaries of what an can be done via an on-line wine retailer, and at Wine 2.0 NYC they unveiled a nifty interface that shows the appproximate location (city / country) of wine searches happening globally on Snooth.com, in real time. The coolness factor of this is totally off the chart, though the immediate application of this tech wasn’t readily apparent (at least, not to me). But… it’s something to build on, and smarter folks than me will no doubt soon find a way to leverage this coolness… I’m just not sure how

So there you have it. Not all great, but not all bad. The future will no doubt be interesting, primarily because the people that are making it interesting have no idea yet what they will do with the interesting stuff. Sounds like true innovation to me.

Sort of.

I just hope that wherever they are going, they bring along enough extension cords.

Cheers!
(images: ebaumsworld.com, cnet.com, winetwo.net)

The Summer of Wine’s Discontent (or "What Wine Can Learn From Beer")

Vinted on September 22, 2008 binned in best of, commentary, learning wine

The wine world probably won’t miss the Summer of `08.

That’s because the Summer of `08 seems like wine’s Season of Discontent.

Personally, I’ve never been so happy to see the Autumn (even taking into account that the Fall is my favorite time of year… colorful leaves… dark beers… heavier wines… and football… sweet, sweet football…).

Anyway, it was last week, with Autumn and football in full swing, when I realized that the wine biz has a lot to learn from its “little” cousin, beer. You know, the one that wine likes to look down on and winsomely tolerate from time to time at family reunions, all the while not seeming to realize that its cousin lives in a bigger house, makes more money, and has more friends. Yes, that cousin. Wine – I’m talking to YOU.

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting fellow blogger The Beer Wench, touring nearby beer stalwart Victory Brewing Company with her. Dude loves beer (in fact, I used to brew it), and he is tight with Victory: it’s my favorite beer location, Mrs. Dudette and I are friends with Victory’s events coordinator, and Dude’s band is playing Victory’s outdoor Fall Fest celebration this year. So we were able to score a private tour of the beer-making magic for The Beer Wench.

About halfway through said tour (when I was rolling hops in my fingers, forever imprinting it’s aromatic fingerprint into my brain), I realized something very important (to me, anyway): I’ve yet to meet anyone involved in beer – whether it be media, distribution, crafting, or enjoying – who was snobbish to the point of being exclusionary. Nobody. Zippo. Nada. It just doesn’t happen. All seem to be welcome in the land of beer. Sure, they have their favorites, and the occasional “low on taste high on commercial budget” examples that they love to hate (Bud Light, anyone?). But you’re never, ever turned away at the door of fine beer. Never.

The mantra of the beer lovers?

Everyone else is also a potential beer lover – they just don’t know it yet!

I wish that I could say the same held true for the world of fine wine…


The sad truth is that there is snobbery in the wine world, and some parts of the industry might actually bank on that snobbery to make their take-home pay.

Too many budding wine aficionados are scared off by “experts” or turned away by the snobbish who view fine wine as some sort of elitist entitlement, to whom holding wine at arm’s length from newbies is some sort of perverse badge of wine honor. By actively deterring new potential wine lovers, the only thing that the ‘elite’ are doing for fine wine is driving its future of appreciation into the dirt. I’m NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world. I’m talking about those who think they’re Robert Parkers, but lack the experience, renown, know-how, clout, and funding, yet somehow feel as though wine ‘belongs’ to them.

This has nothing to do with print wine media. It has to do with individuals (no matter if they’re in the wine industry or not) who are perpetuating a myth that you need to earn your place to love wine. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Wine loves you already. it wants you to be its friend. Wine doesn’t like the snobs, either!

In my view, it would help the wine world if most of those in it took a long, hard look at the world of beer and instead of turning their noses at it, embrace its sense of helpfulness and down to earth charm.

Hey! Wine world! You need to help yourself to a glass of “Get Over Yourself” Ale. Vintage: Now. Region: You.

In general (not just for wine), people are looking more and more to social networking and customized recommendations. Some wine distributors, wine mags, wineries, and a whole lotta bloggers “get” this, and are doing their best to help those consumers, newbies, and enthusiastic learners. And they’re probably enjoying a cold brewski while they’re doing it (and if not, they should, because whether hey realize it or not, they’re taking a cue from the beer industry).

Arguably, there are now more helpful resources to help the wine neophyte than there have at any other time in history. The tide is changing. And it’s coming for the wine world, whether it’s ready or not.

Cheers!
(images: old-photos.blogspot.com, 1WineDude.com)

An Open Letter to (Busty) California Winemakers

Vinted on September 19, 2008 binned in best of, California wine, commentary

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve just polished off another 1/2 of a bottle of your tasty, 14.5% abv wines… in fact, I’m pretty sure that even though it said 14.5% on the elegant bottle, it was probably closer to 15.2%. Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me if I stray off topic or get a little emotional. I’m sure you’ll understand…

I’m a wine lover. And I love California wines – in fact, they’re the first wines that made me stand up and say “WOW! I think I’m in love with wine!” If it wasn’t for CA wines, I would never have started my own personal and fulfilling journey into the wondrous world of wine.

So let’s just establish right now that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for CA wine. I even love a good fruit bomb every now and then, which I’d argue is one of the fingerprints of CA wine that makes it so unique on the world stage, and capable of being so damn good.

We’ve had a good run, you and me… BUT… things just aren’t what they used to be…


Your wines… they’re just starting to… well, I’ll be honest, they’re starting to seem a little boorish sometimes. And I have to admit, I’ve been finding myself attracted to other wine regions. Southern France, New Zealand, Chile…

I didn’t expect this to happen. I thought we were happy together. But then things started to change. I understand that you need to ‘chase scores sometimes in order to command high bottle prices for your wines. After all, how else can you afford to keep up with those expensive winemaking techniques… I know how difficult it is to upkeep pricey machinery, to hand-sort grapes, and let’s not talk about the extravagant prices of new oak barrels these days!

I appreciate what you’re up against, too; those Old World wine regions have hundreds of years going for them, and they can take a long range view of their wines. You have it tougher – sometimes, if you don’t create a big, busty fruit bomb, you can’t get your name out there quickly enough to be successful – and your competition sure isn’t waiting around.

But it’s all gone overboard now. I mean, do you have to obsess about Robert Parker’s ratings all the time??!? I like the guy, but there are other palate preferences out there. Good ones, too.

I love that you’re busty with all of that alcohol and ripe fruit. It turns me on. But you used to be busty and elegant. Now… well… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

I’m not sure things can ever go back to being how they were.

But I’m willing to try if you are.

So please… for both of us… think twice before you go for that much alcohol. I’m not sure that any unfortified wine has enough fruit, acidity, and tenderness to balance against > 15% abv. Think about that, for you, for me. For us, and what we used to have together…

Love,
-Dude

(images: flikr.com – eduardolive, unknown)

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