Posts Filed Under wine news
The Center for Wine Economics released a report of a recent study on the sugar levels of wine grapes in California, titled “Too Much of a Good Thing? Causes and Consequences of Increases in Sugar Content of California Wine Grapes.” Not sure how new this news is, but it was new to me so I’m yappin’ about it!
While that title of the report doesn’t sound particularly fascinating, the report’s conclusions are – if you’re a wine geek, that is, and if you’re a fan of California fine wine and have ever wondered why alcohol levels seem to be kind of high in the premium vino coming out of that state. According to the report, it’s not just your imagination – wine grapes in CA have indeed been getting riper over the last twenty years, which translates into higher booze levels, with white grapes bearing the brunt of the increase:
“The data show that the average alcohol percentage increased by 0.30 percent, with a larger increase for white wine (0.38 percent) than for red wine (0.25 percent). This increase in alcohol percentage is consistent with an increase in the sugar content of the grapes used to make that wine of 0.55 degrees Brix, on average.”
That sugar measurement might look small, but according to the report it’s a “substantial” increase, and it’s that rise in sugar levels that is making CA wines a bit more… busty than they’ve been in the past (I imagine if you were used to drinking CA wine from 20 years ago, drank too much, passed out and pulled a Rip Van Winkle, upon waking up in 2011 you’d be forgiven for thinking that during your extended slumber your fave CA Cab had undergone the vinous equivalent of a boob job). What this study does that is so fascinating is this: it puts data and critical thinking behind something that many CA wine drinkers may have already suspected… CA fine wines are getting boozier, and it might be the result of the fine wine market…
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And I mean that in the best possible way, which is to say that it’s not the same “holy crap!” that I exclaim when our recently-acquired rescue “dog” (dog is in quotes because he’s closer in size to a small horse) dumps on our carpet every other day.
No, this is the kind of “holy crap!” that’s shorthand for “OMG that is so f*cking AWESOME! A++++,” the kind of feeling the wiseguys in Goodfellas had when they thought that Tommy DeVito was getting made (now that I think about it, I really hope that this doesn’t actually turn out the same way as it did for Tommy…).
Anyway, my reaction, which carries my typical levels of subtlety (i.e., all the subtlety of an cheesy action flick in which someone drives an eighteen-wheeler full of nitro glycerin off of the Grand Canyon) is in response to the news that my friend (and one of the most insightful people that I’ve ever met), Jeff Lefevere, the voice behind GoodGrape.com, is now writing the wine column for the Forbes.com blog.
Another friend of mine (I like making friends), Steve Heimoff, blogged about this happening yesterday, and when commenting on Steve’s well-thought-out post it occurred to me that Jeff’s new stint stands as reminder of how powerful social media tools are when wielded by talented and powerful enough hands. They can land you at Forbes – not a bad neighborhood, people!
Jeff’s writing style is about as perfect a chocolate-meets-peanut-butter match for Forbes.com as anyone could reasonably hope, and while I’m sure he doesn’t need it, I’m offering up all of the support and positive-good-vibes I can muster for him in his new endeavor. I’m pretty sure the Forbes.com readership is gonna love him, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Jeff takes things from here – not just as a friend, but as a fan.
Do you drink wine without eating food? At the same time, I mean. Of course you eat food. And of course you don’t actually drink wine at exactly the same time that you eat food, as that is physiologically impossible… ah, forget it, you know what I mean!
Anyway… Chances are, increasingly, that your answer to that question is “well…duh!” At least, that’s the story from a recent Wine Opinions market-research survey, which was the subject of a New York Times piece by my compadre Eric Asimov.
I was quoted in Eric’s write-up, mostly on the topic of whether or not this trend away from wine and food meal pairing consumption should surprise anyone, especially with the advent of the Millennial wine-buyers coming of age into the market for fine wine (to save you some reading time, my answer was basically “No, we shouldn’t be surprised”).
For some reason I seem to have been anointed as someone with a direct line into the Millennial wine-buying hive-brain, which seems strange to me because, while I’m very, very humbled and grateful that so many in the Millennial set seem to enjoy this blog, the first thing that anyone who knows Millennials will tell you is that you should ask them (the Millennials, that is) about their buying habits directly, because they are probably more willing to speak about them than any previous generation. So if you’re in the wine marketing biz and you’re not talking directly with Millennial wine buyers, then you are not Charlie-Sheen-winning, my friends…
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I’ve officially had it with the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America and their unparalleled ability to continually flip the legislative bird to U.S. taxpayers and American wine consumers.
Their latest ploy has been the introduction of HR 1161 – called, strangely enough, the “CARE” act (for Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2011″) but what I’d more accurately describe as the “SYFBWETBORA” act (for “Screwing You From Behind Without Even The Benefit Of a Reach-Around act of 2011”) – is, simply put, a colossal waste of legislative and taxpayer time and energy that could be spent on things slightly more important, such as reducing our national debt, helping to end starvation, fixing healthcare, or…
It’s tough to put into words how asinine this legislation really is, but I will try… for the impatient, I would describe HR 1161 as being the kind of legislation I would expect to be written by severely retarded monkeys, in so much as it promises to deliver a similar amount of potential “benefit” for U.S. consumers and taxpayers.
HR 1161 would basically amount to “exempting state alcohol laws from review under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.” Which would mean that state laws governing alcohol distribution – no matter how potentially unconstitutional, anti-consumer, pro-monopoly they are currently – couldn’t be challenged in court.
How bad is that? It’s bad enough that the National Association of Attorneys General have sent letters indicating that they do not support the bill. Basically, the case for HR 1161 being unconstitutional seems to be quite strong – which strongly suggests that a lot of time is being wasted in drafting, promoting, fighting, and discussing it, because it’s (probably… hopefully!) unlikely to pass.
As a commercial body, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America asking to be protected from Constitutional commerce law is sort of like the U.S. Military asking to be exempted from ever having any of its members be tried for war crimes under any circumstances – we don’t expect that kind of behavior, but the threat of legislation and subsequent legal action at least is a deterrent.
If you want to learn (much) more about how bad HR 1161 really is, check out the on-going coverage of the details over at Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog. What I will leave you with is this: the only logical conclusion I’ve been able to come to when thinking about why on our wine-lovin’-Earth any member of the U.S. legislative system would be in support of HR 1161 is that they are firmly entrenched in the pockets of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.
And we know what we should do with politicians who are too firmly entrenched in the pockets of any big business group:
VOTE THEM OUT.
You can get started by joining up the movement against HR 1161 on Facebook, and by writing your legislative reps to let them know that you’ll be voting for their resignations if they support the bill.