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In the News: Drinking Can Cut Risk of Heart Disease (+ Other Tidbits)

(image: healingdaily.com)

Mark Fisher, who writes the Uncorked blog at the Dayton Daily News, has posted an interesting piece this week with his thoughts on a recent American Journal of Medicine alcohol study.

Mark’s thoughts are always worth a read, and this article is no exception (and thanks to him as well for mentioning my previous post on the same overall topic of wine consumption and health).

While the study itself highlights the positive effects of alcohol on middle aged baby-boomers, Mark uses the study to point out that the issue of alcohol consumption and health is not a simple one.

I.e., trying to binge on wine in your 50s to make up for the booze that you didn’t have when you were younger is not gonna help you reap any wine health benefits. That kind of thinking is more likely to fatally turn your liver into a large hunk of scar tissue.

The good news is that the liver can recover from short-term damage – it just needs a break from the likes of coffee, medication, and especially alcohol. So if you’ve been hitting the wine tastings with added gusto lately, consider giving yourself and your liver the gift of a few days (if not a few weeks) of abstinence. Remember, I’m a wine nut, so if I’m saying it’s a good idea to lay off the vino from time to time, it’s not because I just like to type!

Also, for those of you playing along at home, Wine Blogging Wednesday #44 has just been announced by Gary V. over at Wine Library TV. Yes, that Gary V. The theme this time around is French Cabernet Franc. So, if you want to join the wine blogging community in a review, go pick up a wine and transcribe your thoughts! Details are available here (including what areas of France to look for at the wine store if you want to participate).

Cheers!

Weekly Wine Web Wrap-up: The “Hey, What Happened To Last Week’s Edition?” Edition

Vinted on March 8, 2008 under wine news

(images: toyarchive.com)

Alright, alright, alright – so it’s been a rough week, and rougher weekend, and Dude ended up totally missing last weeks’ edition of W4. Maybe he had one too many brewskis. And maybe made some bad decisions at the bar while jammin’ with his band homies.

Let’s just agree to get over this awkward moment together, and continue with our professional relationship as blogger and reader, OK? Cool.

I give you the “Hey, What Happened To Last Week’s Edition?” Edition of W4…


“When the Dust Has Cleared… And Victory Denied…”
When I say it was a rough week, I mean it – especially for our friends who are fighting the good fight against the three tier, monopolistic wine distribution industry. Wine and Liquor Wholesalers poured their big bucks into beating back legislation that would have allowed on-line wine sales in both Tennessee and Maryland. Never mind that both the public and the wineries of those states supported the legislation – what do they know about wine and the needs of wine consumers anyway, right? Obviously fear-monger organizations like StopTeenDrinkingTN.org know more and need to protect TN citizens from themselves. You can read about them on their “About Us” page – by the way, it doesn’t mention that the TN wine and spirits wholesalers lobby likely funded their website (the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association is the major coalition member). Pathetic.

Robot Bee Wine Tasters (You can’t make this sh*t up!)
By far my favorite news article of the week. Australian researches are testing bees’ noses to give them insights into how to develop robots that can sniff out quality wine. Since it’s a small animal that lives in Australia, I’m assuming the bees are poisonous (hey – even the platypus has venom, people).

Single, Ginormous & Ubiquitous On-Line Retailer Seeks Wine Buyer. Did I Mention I’m Finally Profitable?
If you need a job, Information week reports that Amazon is looking for a wine buyer. Yes, that Amazon. But there’s talk of Amazon’s wine foray actually being a deeper partnership with Wine.com (who everybody loves to hate at the moment for their spurious actions in selling out their competitors to state governments, Communist-China-style).

A Case of Indian Sour Grapes
I’m not sure why I was drawn to this article from the Business Standard – I just found it interesting that India is now getting into the wine competition thing. Once we get the calm, meditation-&-yoga oriented cultures to become anal-retentive, competitive A-types like the rest of us, the world is sure to become a better place, right?

Cheers!

In the News: How Young Buyers are Impacting Winemaking

Vinted on March 2, 2008 under wine buying, wine news, winemaking

(image: darlingofourage.files.wordpress.com)

This is not your fathers wine buying.

There is a great little article posted today in SunJournal.com about how the tastes of a small, but extremely influential group of people are impacting the wine trade.

And they’re NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world, whose tendency to enjoy big, alcohol-laden fruit bombs have influenced wineries the world over to produce ‘bomb’-astic wines at all costs in order to chase the high-end of the big wine magazines’ point rating systems.

These are 20-something sommeliers and wine directors that work for some of the most well-respected and expensive restaurants in the United States.

And the wines that they’re looking for? “Wines that are quirky, regional, with rich background stories…” Wow – definitely NOT your father’s fruit bomb style of wine!…

“Their challenge is to find a wine that they’re as excited about as the chef is … about the flavor of his vegetables from the farmers market…”

This is very good news for “old world” style wines from Italy and Spain, which are finding increasing favor with this growing influential set of wine buyers. And it might be bad news for the fruit-bomb makers, who are seeing a growing backlash in the consumer market against these styles of wine.

Now, I’ve met some of this 20-something sommelier set, and I can tell you that 1) they do prefer regional, exciting wines that offer something unique, 2) they always seek to compliment the chef’s food as much as humanly possible, and 3) their buying habits do help to set some trends with winemakers who are seeking to get a foothold into the exclusive high-end restaurant market.

What’s also very interesting, at least to the Dude here, is how the article ends. SunJournal.com quotes industry analyst Jon Fredrikson regarding if and how this trend may impact what wines start to fly off the supermarket shelves (as opposed to what is recommended at the tables of the nation’s high-end epicureans):

“We way overestimate the knowledge of the American consumer…”

Ouch. Is this true?

Dude’s opinion: I can see a great deal of merit in this ‘don’t-call-it pessimistic-call-it-realistic’ view. The fact is that most wine consumers just want a decent wine that they will enjoy, at a fair price. You can’t force people to make the jump into serious wine appreciation if they lack the desire to do so. But then again, introducing someone to a quirky, unique wine and in the process expanding their wine knowledge is one of the small pleasures of life for the Dude. I just don’t expect everyone to be into that – if you forced your passion for, say, crocheting onto me, I would be finding an excuse to spend a little quality time away from you (like 10 or 12 years worth).

Your thoughts…? Shout `em out in the comments.

Cheers!

Weekly Wine Web Wrap-Up: After the Storm Edition

Vinted on February 24, 2008 under wine news

Greetings from PA, where we are digging out after a bout of winter weather; not the worst we’ve seen by a long shot, but the first significant winter storm we’ve seen all season – very, very late for these parts. I’m not going to jump the gun and blame global warming just yet… but… you gotta wonder…

Speaking of Global Warming
Wine Spectator reported this week on “The Gore-ical” giving the wine industry props for its efforts to Go Green, thus helping to preserve the environment and stave off some of our contribution to turning the Earth into a hothouse. I recently gave props to Domaine547 for going green, so we’ve got some good examples where this is impacting the thinking all the way through the wine retail chain. But so far, no one has called me the Dude-ical.

I got my first real in-yo-face close up with global warming in Samburu, Kenya a few years ago. One afternoon while staying at the Elephant Watch Camp, we hiked up the river. Literally, up the river – as in, walking up the middle of the river. This was very easy because there was no water from the higher elevations to actually fill the river bed, because the ‘short rains’ never came. The locals explained to me how this was possibly linked to global warming, and as I watched the animals dig like mad to get themselves a drink, I decided that I wanted to punch anyone that told me that global warming was bullsh*t in the face. Not that Dude is an angry person…

Don’t Get Mad, Get Quoted
While we’re doling out props, let’s give some down-home Dude praise to Tom Wark, who was quoted (yet again!) by Business Wire this week in his fight against the monopolist practices in wine distribution. Anyone who thinks that the wine distributors’ claim that they are maintaining their monopoly to keep alcohol out of the mouths of minors is anything more than a greedy witch hunt needs to check out Tom’s blog.


The American alcohol distributors calls for shutting down all direct to consumer wine shipments is a self-serving ruse demonstrated by the fact that if they really cared about minor access to wine, they would call for the shutting down of the channel of sales through which minors are most likely to obtain alcohol: brick and mortar alcohol sales. Rather, we only hear calls to shut down direct shipment of wine, the channel through which distributors dont make money.

Go Tom!

(Even More) Power to the People!
Decanter reported that two self-published works picked up U.K. Andre Simon book prizes. That gives some very serious street cred to the self publishing phenomenon (and maybe even to the Wine 2.0 movement). Oh, yeah – the books were also from U.S. authors (whew-hew!).

She’s So… Heeeeeavy….
Speaking of Decanter, and the U.K., the likes of Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke railed out against a trend from luxury winemakers to bottle wines in what they (Jancis & Oz, not the winemakers) claim are needlessly heavy bottles. Score another hit for the movement against climate change, since heavier bottles = more energy to ship + higher shipping costs (passed on to you and me who are buying the stuff).

Speaking of Weights…
Those of us who brave the epicurean world to bring you our take on food & wine will undoubtedly want to check out this article from the Times online, which details how critics, chefs, and others in the food industry fight the after-effects of their foodie passions. Considering that wine doesn’t have fat, but does have calories (mostly from its alcohol content), us wine bloggers & wine drinkers should take note. The good news is, we’re not alone! Now, go get on that treadmill.

Ancient Land, New Wines
The Wall Street Journal posted a fascinating piece this week on the quality revolution underway in Israel’s wine industry. Dude had an opportunity to taste some Israeli wine not too long ago during a visit in London, and he was mighty impressed. Watch this space, we could be seeing some exciting stuff as this very old world land makes some new-world styled wines.

A Moment of Silence
This past week we mourned the loss of Jamie Davis, co-founder of Schramsberg Vineyards. Jamie Davis was a pioneer, a bit like the Robert Mondavi of American sparkling wine.

That’s all for now. Until next week’s edition – cheers!

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