Last month, uber-hard-rock band RUSH participated in what has become a semi-regular event for them: a charity auction on eBay called “Grapes Under Pressure” (a pun on one of RUSH’s album titles) to benefit Grapes For Humanity Canada (RUSH front man Geddy Lee is on the board of directors). I know, I can’t get past the hard/prog rock / wine thing the last few days, right?
Anyway, according to Geddy Lee, the most recent auction raised over $50K (not sure if that’s Canadian or U.S. dollars…):
I would like to take a moment to thank all those fans and friends who participated in the GRAPES UNDER PRESSURE eBay auction to benefit GRAPES FOR HUMANITY CANADA. With your help we managed to raise over $50,000 dollars! When combined with monies raised in our other G.U.P. events we will be able to significantly improve the lives of disadvantaged and injured people around the globe and more immediately will aid THE HALO TRUST in establishing a pilot project in Savannakhet Province, Laos, to address the urgent problem of casualties caused by cluster bombs. Alex, Neil, myself and the entire G.U.P. Team, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Geddy’s wine-related endeavors have been covered on these virtual pages before, but this recent news got me thinking about how and why the world’s greatest beverage can – and often does – serve as a catalyst to bring out the best in us (well, there’s that, but it also got me listening to Distant Early Warning, like, a dozen times)…
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In the immortal words of William Shatner, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news.”
But… you should know that, according to research very recently published in the journal Nature, our old pal resveratrol (a compound found in red wine, among other things) might not be the key to everlasting youth.
OMG! Who would ever have guessed such a terrible thing?! Oh wait, haven’t we been cautioning against the resveratrol craze for something like four years here on 1WD?
Anywaaaaaay… long-story-made-short, a 2006 Harvard study once found that resveratrol might increase production of proteins called sirtuins, which were found at the time to possible prolong the lives of obese mice. Good news for you red-wine-drinking obese mice out there, or so it was thought at the time.
Turns out, according to the findings being published in Nature, the initial study might have been flawed, and all this stuff around red wine/resveratrol/sirtuins prolonging life might have been a bit overblown. Bad news for you red-wine-drinking obese mice out there. And maybe also for GlaxoSmithKline, who paid over $700 million for the company that the initial study’s author David Sinclair founded to make a drug from the substance.
NPR.org has a great detailed report on all of the above, embedded below for your listening pleasure. I suggest relaxing with a glass of red wine while you listen to it – not because the red wine will make you live longer, but because the relaxing might help you live longer (or if not, at least help you enjoy the moment a bit more than usual).
Well… whose ratings should a wine drinker pay attention to? Or, stated with a tad more more grammatical correctness (warning: sounding-like-douche-bag-potential alert!), To Whose Ratings Should A Wine Drinker Pay More Attention?
An American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) working paper with that tile was just released, though, interestingly, it doesn’t actually answer the question. I will answer it, in a few minutes anyway, but not before torturing you with exposition and report dissection first. Because, well, I’m really just not that nice of a guy.
Despite the bait-and-switch title, the paper starts with a fascinating premise: given that ratings for the same wines vary between professional wine critics (called “experts” in the paper’s lingo), is there an established expert whose ratings correlate closely with those of the general wine-drinkin’ public?
Turns out, there is one – at least,there is one out of the three expert sources that the paper used.
The paper’s authors, Omer Gokcekus and Dennis Nottebaum (no, I do not know how to pronounce those), chose to examine ratings/scores of 120 Bordeaux wines from the 2005 vintage. The voice of the people was played by the scores for those wines as recorded in Cellar Tracker, subsets of which were then compared with the scores for the same wines as reported by three pro wine critic sources. Big-time influencer Robert Parker (via The Wine Advocate) was included, as well as Wine Spectator, so they covered the 1.5 most influential wine critics in the U.S. The third included was Stephan Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, though to be honest I’ve no idea why they included that last one. Just kidding, Stephen!
Anyway… It’s important to note the results were aggregated, and this makes them a tad misleading because the same wines were not compared between the three pro critics and Cellar Tracker – a subset of the wines were compared (CT to RP, CT to WS, and CT to ST). These were not the same wines (or the same amount of wines) in each case, so while there will be some wines in the group that were compared against all four ratings sources, there will also be some wines that were only compared between Cellar Tracker and one of the pro sources. Got it? Good!
Overlooking that minor cavil, the results are pretty darn fascinating…
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