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International Conflict and Wine: Georgia’s Treasures Under Fire

Vinted on August 12, 2008 binned in commentary, wine news


Just to bring a bit of palpable focus to the ongoing conflict in Georgia, I thought I’d highlight a few of the wine-related impacts of the fighting that is making worldwide news headlines:

Georgia’s Caucasus region is widely believed to be the birthplace of wine, based on archeological findings of the oldest known cultivated vines. Georgian wine is still made, and its unique tastes and grape varietals (most notably Saperavi) are highly regarded, with their wines being widely sold in Europe – with the potential to generate increased sales in the international wine market, as well…

The current conflict is taking its toll on Georgia’s wine trade. Russia, probably the largest purchaser of Georgian wine, had already placed a block on sales of Georgian wine. As you can imagine, most business in Georgia has slowed during the conflict, and among those protesting Russia’s actions this week have been importers of Georgian wine.

Here’s hoping that the conflict ends as soon as possible – and that Georgian wine, and the historical wine treasures of Caucasus, escapes relatively unscathed.

The Trouble With Wine Ratings: Part 2

Vinted on August 5, 2008 binned in commentary

I’m glad to see that my post last week on the potential troubles with the 100 point wine rating system has spurred so much interesting dialog in the wine “blogosphere” (man, we really need another word for that…).

Probably the most interesting conversation on this was triggered by Steve Heimoff’s response on his excellent Unreserved blog. It’s worth reading, and Steve makes some great points about tirades against the 100 point system being a dime a dozen these days.

I thought that Steve’s response was very good, but I felt that he might have misinterpreted some of my points. This got me thinking that I might have been unclear in that post, and maybe some 1WineDude.com readers might have misinterpreted it also (uh oh….!).

So I responded in Steve’s comment thread, and I’ve reproduced my response here in the hopes that it will clear up any misunderstanding between us – and by us, I mean you and I, dear reader. Because, you know, we’ve got a special thing goin’ here and I don’t want to jeopardize our love-fest…

Here ’tis:

“Man, there is some excellent banter going on in these comments! I really enjoy your writing so I was particularly pleased to see that my post sparked some debate on your blog. I agree with quite a bit of what you say, I think the 100 point system does get abused too often in the wine blogging world.

Having said that, I think you might have misconstrued my post for one of those rants, which might be selling it a bit short (massive subjectivity of that self-appraisal duly noted, of course!).

To justify that, I should probably clear a couple of things up about that post of mine:
1) Steve, your palate would totally *smoke* my palate when it comes to reviewing wines (which is one reason why I typically don’t review wines at 1WineDude.com). If our palates shared a prison cell, my palate would be your palate’s b*tch, would bring it tea and biscuits every morning, and call it sir!
I wasn’t railing against the 100 point system in my post. You want to see a rant, pull up any post I’ve written about the PLCB ( http://1winedude.blogspot.com/search/label/PLCB ) for comparison; now *those* are rants. :-)

My point was that the 100 point system can be confusing to consumers, because it (as you say in your post above) is really a gradient quality scale based on one person’s palate. But that’s not how most of the wine media treats it, and it’s certainly not how the industry of wine sales treats it. So it doesn’t really do what it says “on the tin.”

2) I wasn’t bashing critics or consumers. I am bashing *anyone* who would blindly follow any rating or scoring system without doing any homework whatsoever. The truth is that there are too many people out there who do that, and part of being a wine blogger these days is to help point that out and hopefully add a little entertaining education for those consumers to show them what they might be missing. That doesn’t imply that they are stupid, just uninformed.

3) I should also try to clear up a bit about the 89 Project ( http://89project.blogspot.com/ ) – I did not found this but I do plan to contribute to it. If you take a look at the 89 Project home page, you’ll find that its charter is to try to bring exposure to the wines that fail to meet a 90 or above score in the 100 point scale – these wines are perennially doomed to lower sales figures, because consumers consider the 1 point difference between a 90 and an 89 score to be substantial (but probably not so for a 93 vs. a 94).

So, this is *not* an alternative rating system – it’s simply a review of these wines in our own voices. I don’t plan to give any of these wines a review based on a scale – I simply describe what I taste and explain if I think it’s good value for money (or not).

Hoping this clears up some of the confusion about my post. I certainly think that the 100 point system has its merits (after all, no one has offered a more popular replacement yet) and I’m not calling for its demise, just pointing out the gaps. I also am NOT a fan of inexperienced wine critics offering up their reviews as viable alternatives to more experienced tasters – I fully believe that expert criticism has its place.

I should also mention that I’m not hurting for blog material, and it was a conscious choice on my part to write a piece about the possible perils of following the 100 point rating system. I literally have more than enough ideas for material that I could post every day for a year without repeating myself (yes, even if I remove my rants against the PLCB – ok, maybe 9 months then ;-). I’m only pointing that out because I wouldn’t want any potential bloggers to read this thread and think that they shouldn’t blog from a fear of running out of material. That should be the *last* thing that they worry about when blogging.

Cheers!

(images: affordablehousinginstitute.org)

What the Heck Kind of Wine are You, Anyway? The Wrap-Up

Vinted on August 4, 2008 binned in commentary, wine 2.0

Last week I played around with one of those kitschy on-line questionnaires, which, since it had to do with wine, I found not-so-kitschy anymore.

The questionnaire/quiz was titled “What Kind of Wine are You?“, hosted at BlogThings.com, and the on-line wine geek community seems to have really taken to it, based on all of the twitter chatter going on as we shared our results.

What I found most interesting was the number of people who cried foul at having wanted to “be” a nebbiolo, but being given instead an entirely different ‘spirit wine’ (usually Merlot). Maybe it’s just me, but I associate Merlot with Vieux Chateau Certan, Duckhorn, Cheval Blanc, and Petrus – which just doesn’t feel like disreputable company…

Seems the designers of the “What Kind of Wine are You?” quiz need to check their personality assumptions with the rest of us wine geeks and revise the quiz…?

Anyway, here are a few wine blogger / wine geek results that the group shared with me. If anything, it might serve as an interesting introduction to a handful of wine websites that you might not have checked out yet:

Cheers!

(images: dawneasterevents.blogspot.com)

What the Heck Kind of Wine are You, Anyway? An exercise in Blog Introspection

Vinted on July 30, 2008 binned in commentary, wine 2.0

I’ve been doing a bit of introspection here at 1WineDude.com. Since this is a blog, the introspection has been performed entirely on-line, using two different tools that other wine bloggers have been dabbling with as well. So, no chance of my becoming a better person in the real world – this is virtual introspection, people.

The first tool is one of those kitschy website polls, which don’t seem so kitschy anymore to us wine geeks, now that we have one that tells you What Kind of Wine You Are. Heck, I practically consider them to be brilliant now…

Anyway, my results:

You Are Sauvignon Blanc


Engaging and energetic, you have a lot to offer the world – most of it they’ve never seen anywhere else!

You are the type of person who carves your own path in life… and you invite everyone else to come along.

The only thing predictable about you is that you could have anything up your sleeve.

You’re all about sampling all of life’s experiences. Both the savory and unsavory ones.

Deep down you are: Laid back and young at heart.

Your partying style: Anything goes… seriously!

Your company is enjoyed best with: Smoked meats or spicy food.

Surprisingly, I could see myself in some of that description (especially the part about smoked meats and spicy food). And here I’ve always imagined myself to be a red – one of those interesting and offbeat blended ones, like Priorat. Wrong, baby!

I’m happy to take Sauv Blanc – even if they failed to mention my sometimes unpalatable bracing acidity, my low-to-moderate output but hardy vigor, the fact that I show my best in climates that aren’t too hot, and my propensity to rot. Happy they didn’t go into whether or not I should be considered high quality…


The other online tool in which plenty of blogosphere folks are dabbling is Wordle. Wordle is the kind of tool that you play around with for 15 minutes, wonder when / how you’d use it to do anything of significance, eventually scratch your head, shrug your shoulders, and then surf to another website. And pour yourself another glass of vino.

Having said that, you will enjoy the 15 minutes you spend on Wordle. I tried to create some interesting wine reviews using it – sort of a cross between my twitter ‘mini’ reviews & Chateau Petrogasm. No luck for me (if you figure it out, more power to ya).

Anyway, here’s the 1WineDude.com wordle (click for larger view). Note that many customization features are available on Wordle, but I left it to its own devices to randomly select them for me:


If I squint just right, it sort of looks like wine being poured from a decanter. Or maybe it will later, after another sip or two…

Just for giggles, I also fed the 1WineDude twitter ‘mini’ reviews RSS feed into Wordle – the result (click for larger view):


What I noticed first about this random creation was the proximity of the words “smokin / Bong” and “think / flowers.” Maybe this should be 1BluntDude.com?

Childish? Nah – it’s just me being “Laid back and young at heart” like my ‘spirit wine’, Sauv Blanc.

Here’s hoping, when my time comes, that I also rot nobly…

Cheers!

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