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Interviews | 1 Wine Dude - Page 7

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1WineDude Radio: The James Suckling Interview

Vinted on December 14, 2010 binned in 1WineDude Radio, interviews

Technically, this is actually Episode Three of my podcasts, but they’re running out of order.  Because I feel like it.

Anyway, my strong suspicion is that today’s interview with James Suckling (formerly, of course, from Wine Spectator) is going to generate a lot of discussion.  Like Robert Parker, Suckling is a bit of a polarizing figure in the wine world, mostly because for decades he represented concepts that wine geeks have come to either love or loathe: the assignment of numerical scores to assess a wine’s quality, handed down by either experts with exceptional palates honed by years of tastings, or by ivory-tower-dwelling egomaniacs, depending on your point of view of wine scores.

James braved intermittent cellphone coverage, technical Skype difficulties, and (most dangerously) L.A. traffic to be the next victim interview guest on “1WineDude Radio.”

In our interview, James talks about his new website (which launched last Monday, but will be referenced as still being in the future as we recorded the interview on December 3rd), his view on wine scores (and why he thinks they’re still important), why he left Wine Spectator, how he expects to make a living out on his own in the wine world; he also has some surprising things to say about wine blogs.

No doubt there will be many of you who will think I either wasn’t respectful enough or wasn’t hard-edged enough in this interview (likely depending on your points of view of wine scores). I think what you will find, if you keep an open mind, is that James shows a side of himself in this interview that isn’t evident in his Wine Spectator writings or his film appearances.  As always, my interview approach is centrist; it’s meant to have the person voice their views themselves, in the most human and direct way possible; we can of course explore, debate, and discuss our reactions in the comments – which (as always), I encourage you to do!

Cheers!

1WineDude Radio: The James Suckling Interview

1WineDude Radio: The Tanya Scholes Interview (and possible last-minute holiday gift idea for wine lovers!)

Vinted on December 7, 2010 binned in 1WineDude Radio, interviews, wine books

Today I’m very pleased to announce the launch of an idea that I’ve been contemplating in my noggin’ for a long time, which is to add podcasts to 1WineDude.com for interviews (trust me, no one wants to hear a podcast of me talking to myself).

Author and designer Tanya Scholes braved illness, jet lag, and guinea pig status to become the first victim kind-hearted soul to help me launch this podcast idea, which I’m dubbing “1WineDude Radio” because I lack the inventiveness to come up with a catchier name.

Tanya has just released her first book, The Art And Design Of Contemporary Wine Labels, and it’s a beauty (and one that his been garnering praise recently throughout the wine world), which details the previously hidden stories behind the designs of hundreds of stunning wine labels. Yes, I did receive a review copy (for those of you work in the FTC), but that won’t stop me from recommending this as a potential holiday gift for those of you looking to treat yourselves that special wine-lovin’ someone.

Anyway, in this inaugural podcast episode, Tanya talks about how the book came to be, recalls the reaction she gets to the book from winemakers, instructs me on the correct pronunciation (both English and French-Canadian) of her last name, and contemplates why wine label designers seem overly-preoccupied with cephalopods. You know, just another day at the office!

Also – a few of quick points on this whole podcast thang:

  • I am NOT attempting to usurp radio programs like (the excellent) Wine Biz Radio, who are actually sponsored, on-air programs.
  • I am NOT planning on abandoning the written word (or video).
  • YES, I am throwing this format into the mix to spice things up a little bit, and mostly to provide a means for giving more exposure to (hopefully interesting and thought-provoking) back-and-forth interviewing repartee.

Cheers!

1WineDude Radio Episode 1: The Tanya Scholes Interview


Wine Scores On Trial (The Wine Trials 2011 Robin Goldstein Interview)

Vinted on November 2, 2010 binned in book reviews, interviews

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaack.

Robin Goldstein, who shook the wine world’s foundations in 2008 when he won Wine Spectator’s restaurant Award of Excellence after creating a fictitious restaurant whose wine list included some of their lowest-scoring Italian wines in the past two decades (triggering one of the most heated public debates of the year in the wine world), is back.

With a vengeance.

Not that Robin’s disappeared since my last interview with him (which long-time 1WD readers will recall generated some very compelling debate – some of which, you will come to learn, influenced his latest project): he blogs regularly at BlindTaste.com, helped follow up the 2010 edition of The Wine Trials with The Beer Trials (a similar take on blind tasting ratings, applied to commercial beers), and has co-authored the new release The Wine Trials 2011.

Once again, I greedily devoured the results in my review copy of The Wine Trials, and just as in the 2010 versions, I found the them nothing short of compelling.

For starters, the consumers’ choices (for the most part) are very good bargain wines: take Dona Paula, Aveleda, Hugel, Nobilo, and Sebeka for examples.

Additionally, the blind tasting regimen for the trials (which once again pitted inexpensive wines against similar but much pricier brands) was enhanced with a bit more of the science behind them explained, and the results were similar to those in 2010: non-experts prefer less expensive wines, by a significant statistical margin.

Finally, Robin and his co-authors seem to take an even harder line in The 2011 Wine Trials against the use of point scores by leading wine publications, including taking Wine Spectator to task for how they handled the Award of Excellence kerfuffle in 2008. Whether or not you agree with their stance and their findings, the Wine Trials team at Fearless Critic Media are clearly not interested in backing down anytime soon.

Robin (once again) kindly agreed to talk to me about his controversial new release, and (once again) he has a lot to say about Wine Spectator, the 100 point wine scoring system, and how wine consumers can enhance their own perceptions (and use their own preferences to rally against snobbery in the wine world). Oh, yeah, and he talks RUSH!

Enjoy!…

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The Myths of the Palate: An Interview with Tim Hanni, MW

Vinted on October 26, 2010 binned in best of, interviews

Master of Wine and Certified Wine Educator Tim Hanni has been lighting up the on-line wine world this week.

More specifically, what’s been lighting up the wine world is the release of a report of highlights from a study of wine consumer taste preferences that Tim has co-authored with Virginia Utermohlen, MD.

Titled "Beverage preferences attitudes and behavior of sweet vs. tolerant wine consumers," the sixteen page report is getting a hell of a lot more than sixteen pages worth of discussion, as it draws conclusions from a series of studies that focus on the market of wine consumers and how they taste – conclusions that challenge the conventional notions of how (or even if) wine can be judged objectively and empirically, and just how wrong the wine industry might be getting it in how wine appreciation is taught.

In summary, Tim’s report might just be the hot topic of the wine world right now, with several wine personalities from Jeff Lefevere to Steve Heimoff to Jancis Robinson chiming in with their (mostly fascinating) interpretations of Tim’s results.

As you might expect from someone who has been in the wine and food biz for over thirty years, and who was one of the first Americans to become an MW, Tim is not shy about is views. In fact, he’s been an active participant in the fray and debate about the results of his study since its announcement (for a great example, see GoodGrape.com’s take on the report, which is one of the best overviews on the topic published to date, and contains fascinating tête-à-tête reading in the comments from Tim and others).

Clearly, based on the reaction to the report so far, Tim’s views – and the manner in which he presents them – can be polarizing. As Tim put it in one of our email exchanges, "It is intriguing to me how the idea that people are different and that the topic of sweet wine and defense of sweet wine consumers can generate so much hostility."

Are the debates missing the point?  Maybe.  According to Tim, it’s not whether or not sweet wines are better or whether or not those that prefer them are superior tasters, but that there are significant differences in how we taste wine and food that is important: "This is a quote from Jancis Robinson MW from 4 years ago," he told me, "when I had my scientific mentors, Dr. Chuck Wysocki from Monnell Senses center, Michael O’Mahony form UC Davis, present data and conduct demonstrations at the MW symposium in Napa:

The main point of the session was to suggest that there are all sorts of populations of people who will perceive wine differently, thanks to our own sensitivities and preferences, and that the wine business is crazy to act as though one message, or even one sort of wine, suits all.’"

I had the opportunity to ask Tim about the study, his work with Virginia Utermohlen, and his views on how to bring the power back to the wine consumer people.  Whether you love or loathe Tim’s take on wine tasting preferences, few would challenge Tim’s passionate zeal for championing the empowerment of wine consumers, and I suspect few would find the following interview responses from Tim anything less than fodder for compelling wine conversation.

Enjoy!…

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