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Wine Satan or Wine Savior? An Interview With Wine Trials Author Robin Goldstein

Vinted on January 25, 2010 binned in best of, book reviews, interviews, wine books, wine publications

Depending on who you ask, Wine Trials author Robin Goldstein is either the wine world’s Satan, or the wine consumer’s Savior.

Whether you feel that Goldstein’s powers are being used for good or evil, you can’t say that he harbors a fear of shaking things up.  Goldstein became a polarizing figure in the wine world in 2008, when he ruffled the feathers of Wine Spectator by creating a fictitious restaurant whose wine list included some of their lowest-scoring Italian wines in the past two decades, and subsequently won their restaurant Award of Excellence.  The aftermath caused one of the most heated debates of the year in the wine world.

Goldstein also coauthored The Wine Trials, the first edition of which is the bestselling wine guide (for inexpensive wines, anyway) in the world.  The premise of the Wine Trials was simple: compare everyday wines to more expensive equivalents in blind tastings, and see which ones the average person preferred.  As it turns out, most wine consumers – to a statistically significant degree – enjoy the less expensive options; more feathers ruffled!

Goldstein has a new website, BlindTaste.com, and the 2010 edition of the Wine Trials has recently been released.  I tore through my review copy of The Wine Trials, and I found the first 50 pages (which describe the approach and science behind the book, and hint at its future implications on the wine industry) to be some of the most profound reading on wine appreciation that I have ever come across.  The Wine Trials doesn’t just poke at wine’s sacred cows – it skewers them, grills them, and serves them up with an inexpensive Spanish red (Lan Rioja Crianza in this case, which took the Wine of the Year honors in the 2010 Wine Trials).  A similar take on beer, The Beer Trials, is set to be released this Spring.

Robin kindly agreed to answer a few questions for our readers.  I’ll warn you that you should be prepared for a quick and opinionated mind – and you might want to pad the walls of your wine world, because that world is about to get turned squarely onto its ear…

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When Good Wines Go Bad: A Closer Look at Wine Flaws at Corkd.com

Vinted on December 22, 2009 binned in wine appreciation, wine publications

Put your high-school chemistry goggles on (you know, safety is paramount, right?) and join me today on Corkd.com for a look at the wine flaws.

I’ve been asked by Cork’d to contribute to their Cork’d Content feature, which showcases original content from different wine bloggers each day on a variety of wine topics, with the goal of adding fun, informational / educational wine content for Corkd.com users.

I’m excited to be contributing to  Cork’d and to be apart of the vibrant wine-reviewing community over there.  I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying the articles already posted at Cork’d that were written by friends of mine, like Robert Dwyer and Hardy Wallace.  

My article focuses on the particularly egregious  wine flaws that, while not common, nonetheless create unforgettable moments of awful stinkiness that can abruptly and totally destroy your wine-drinking  experience if and when you do encounter them.

Should be fun!

Cheers!

The Second Glass Annual Wine Guide

Vinted on November 25, 2009 binned in wine publications

The Second Glass is kicking some ass.

The Boston-area stalwarts just released their Annual Wine Guide for 2010, and it’s an impressive ‘cheat sheet’ view of high QPR wine selections.

I’m not sure how they selected the wines that made the final cut to be highlighted in the buying guide, and not all of the selections are blow-your-mind good, but I’m impressed with some of the wines that were included (S.A. Prum Essence Riesling, anyone?).  The guide is organized by country / region, and you will learn a bit about the wine production and culture for each of the included countries, so it’s not just a list of budget-oriented wine picks.

I especially liked how they highlighted some of the value-producing and fast-improving regions of Spain (Jumilla, Yecla), didn’t shun Austria, and were bold enough to offer up Chenin Blanc recommendations from Clarksburg in California.  The guide finishes with the selections indexed by potential purpose (“Turkey Wine,” “Winter Warmer,” and my personal favorite, “Panty Remover.”)

All in all, it’s 40+ pages of wine goodness.

A printed copy will run you all of $2.00 – if you’re too cheap for that, you can browse the entire contents on-line.

Hats-off to the Second Glass team for this handy guide – they’ve outdone similar offerings that run for a hell of a lot more money.

Got a favorite wine guide?  Let’s hear about ‘em in the comments!

Cheers!

(images: thesecondglass.com)

China and Wine: By the Numbers

Vinted on November 24, 2009 binned in commentary, wine buying, wine publications

The November 23, 2009 edition of the New Yorker contains a fascinating article by Evan Osnos titled “Letter From China – Reds: The creation of a wine-loving class.”

The article recounts a short period in the history of the A.S.C. Fine Wines company based in Beijing and run by two Canadians (a father-and-son team by the name of St. Pierre). Just as interesting as the trials and tribulations of the St. Pierre clan is the clear picture that Osnos’ article paints of fine wine consumption in China.

I’ll share some of those numbers with you in a moment, but before I do, let’s get the bottom line conclusion out of the way now: anyone who doesn’t think that China is not among the major players – if not the major player -  in the world fine wine market needs to have a belly-button window installed (think about it… you’ll get it).

In a less than 15 years, China’s upper-middle class has gone from a “let’s mix red wine with soda” drinking culture to a group of savvy if star-struck fine wine and dining folk right out of a hackneyed, First-Growth-worshipping Wine Spectator lifestyle piece.

Welcome to the new world of international wine…

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