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More Proof That Social Influence Is Eroding The Power Of Traditional Wine Reviews

Vinted on May 22, 2014 binned in commentary, wine news

As if we needed any more evidence that consumer perception of wine isn’t all that materially different than how they interact with every other produce available in the market today, the results of a study titled In Vino Veritas? Social Influence on ‘Private’ Wine Evaluations at a Wine Social Networking Site published by Wine-Economics.org provides more proof that wine is not immune from the same type of crowd-sourced review influences that have become the norm of on-line product searching.

The study was conducted by staff from Seton Hall, Oxford and the University of Exeter, from their departments of Diplomacy and International Relation, Experimental Psychology, and Psychology departments, respectively (if you want to go up against their level of smarties, be my guest; I know when I see a battle not worth fighting). Their subject was an analysis of Cellertracker.com reviews, which makes sense since it’s currently the largest such repository on planet Earth.

To the tape (emphasis mine):

“We conducted analyses based on 6,157 notes about 106 wines posted by wine drinkers at a wine social networking site. Our findings suggest that social influence on private wine evaluations occurred by communicating a descriptive norm via written information. We provide empirical evidence that there is social influence on private wine evaluations that is greater than the effect of experts’ ratings and prices combined. This influence comes mainly from the first few group members, and increases as a function of source uniformity. “

Hmmmm. Science and data deal uninformed, incumbent opinions a blow yet again

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SVB’s State Of The Wine Industry 2014 Report Makes Us Look Like Geniuses (And Other Tidbits)

Vinted on February 18, 2014 binned in commentary, wine news

Last year, I wrote some OpEd on the 2013 version of Silicon Valley Bank’s annual State of the Wine Industry report. In that gonzo style (is there any other kind?!??) take, I made a prediction about the long-ish term future of wine sales in the U.S.. That prediction basically underscored a similar prediction I made in 2011 regarding how the current top dogs of wine buying in this country – the Baby Boomer generation – would fall off precipitously as they age in terms of no longer buying luxury goods like wine, either because they can no longer do this when they die, will not want to do it if they encounter failing health, or will not be able to do it because they will run out of money in retirement.

The 2014 version of SVB’s report (yeah, I know, it was weeks and weeks ago, I’m late), contains a very interesting statement in the “2014 Business Predictions” section, on page five (emphasis is mine):

We believe we are trending to a transition point as Boomers hit retirement and the economic condition of the Millennials replacing them is burdened with high levels of student debt and weak job prospects. In the current period we expect to see continued growth in overall demand but only limited pricing power for producers. Within the next five to seven years however, the evolution from Boomers to Millennials as dominant purchasers of wine will prove a significant headwind to sustained growth in the wine business.”

In other words, SVB recently made you and me look like genius-level, Nostradamus-like oracles, since we’ve been saying this for nearly three years now, you and I. Okay, semi-genius. Okay, somewhat-smart-folks. Alright, alright, I will entertain the possibility that it was a blind-squirrel-finds-an-acorn thing. Also, few in the wine world appear to actually be listening to us (SVB excepted, of course!), so we may still be stoned to death, like some of the oracles of old. Best not to think too much about that…

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WineDude-ism Vs. Yet Another Control State (NH Wine Week, 2014)

Vinted on January 23, 2014 binned in wine industry events, wine news

I keep getting asked what I think about (paraphrasing) “that guy in Philly who got arrested for selling wine.” I happen to live in Chester County, where Arthur Goldman allegedly sold legitimate rare wines from his home, wines that the PA Liquor Control Board don’t offer in their state-run stores.

To the tape:

“More than 2,420 bottles of fine wines valued at $150,000 were seized last week from the home of a Chester County attorney who allegedly ran an underground mail order wine network, authorities said. Arthur Goldman, 49, allegedly has sold rare wines – all unavailable from the state-owned liquor monopoly -from his home in Malvern without a liquor license, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and is also accused of procuring the wine from a source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.”

My first reaction was the same as it is to nearly any news involving the prosecution of almost any crimes against the PA liquor code, that it was a bizarre over-reaction by law enforcement. I mean, $150K of material that technically isn’t contraband and isn’t harming anyone is a complete and total waste of a sting operation.

Halfway through the Philly.com news report, it occurred to me that my gnashing-of-teeth hatred of the PLCB is somewhat old hat and uninformed, given that I buy all of my beer from Wegman’s supermarket (which can sell it because it’s acting as a restaurant under PA law) and haven’t spent a penny at a PLCB store in years, since I now get 99.99% of my wine for free. I am no longer a PLCB customer, so my views are skewed.

But then I got to this disturbing bit, which doesn’t take a well-heeled shopper to appreciate: Goldman was charged with “purchasing ‘liquor or alcohol from another source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.’”

In the Communist-wealth of Pennsylvania, it’s a crime to shop for the wine that you want, if the PLCB doesn’t offer it

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Wine Bloggers = Wine Consumers. Get Over It. (ESC Dijon Bourgogne’s Wine Blogger Study)

Vinted on January 21, 2014 binned in wine blogging, wine news

The ESC Dijon Bourgogne (Burgundy School of Business) has recently wrapped up its three year study of wine blogging worldwide, the results of which have been released in a free whitepaper titled World Wide Wines: Digital Writing on Wine.

This is important not just because it sounds like The Scorpions’ kick-ass live album World Wide Live, but because the ESC Dijon Bourgogne study is the longest and most comprehensive view of the wine blogosphere ever attempted. Is it perfect? No (Exhibit A: calling Paul Mabray and I – now in or forties – the “younger generation of wine bloggers;” maybe compared to the average age of the wine guys writing for traditional wine media outlets…). But given its scope, its incorporation of other important wine blogging studies, and its length, this is as close as we’ve got to a litmus test on the global state of wine blogging.

For me, the most telling and pertinent results of the study come in pages 23-26 (more on that below), in which the study adds further proof to the idea (or what we should now probably consider the fact) that there is no real difference between wine bloggers and wine consumers.

Think that wine bloggers are “wasting” time by talking to one another, and don’t reach “real” consumers who spend their money on wine? Sorry, you’re harboring an antiquated view that doesn’t stand up to common sense, the laws of statistical averages, or the data offered in ESC Dijon Bourgogne’s three year study. If that’s still your view, then maybe you should just go renew your membership to the Flat Earth Society instead of seeing the study details I’m about to present…

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