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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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Holiday Wine Pairing Hangover? Get Some Relief in the New Issue of Mutineer Mag!

Vinted on October 26, 2009 binned in about 1winedude blog, holidays, wine publications

This week, we begin what school children in the U.S. have long considered the holy triumvirate of holiday respite, rivaled only by the extended time away from school called Summer Vacation.  For this week, the oft-exploited holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas attack us in quick bursts of targeted marketing succession.

Now that I’m older, a full-fledged adult, I look at the season a bit differently.  To me, it’s the Season of Hopeless Wine Pairings, in which I am besieged by requests from friends, family, and strangers alike who are looking for an answer to the fright-inducing question:

What wine should I bring to [Insert Holiday Dinner Name Here] ?”

For reasons that I find difficult to understand, hardly anyone who asks me that question seems ready to accept my answer:

It doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to pair a wine with specific dishes, so just drink whatever you and your guests like best.”

Like the aforementioned school children, they are somehow desperate to identify a “correct” answer, even if there isn’t one.  Will this be on the exam?

I realize that Holiday time in the U.S. can be particularly stressful for modern adults – which is why I think it’s even more important not to sweat the wine choices for holiday dinners; just bring something you’ve been dying to try, or that you like.  No, I’m serious – that’s all there is to it.  You can over-complicate it if you particularly like being stressed-out, your call.

Anyway, I invite those looking for some relief from the potential hangover of holiday wine pairings to check out the latest issue of Mutineer Magazine, in which I join up with Drew Langley (from L.A.’s Providence) and Michael Scaffidi (from The Jefferson in D.C.) to pair wines with specific holiday dishes like Smoked Paprika Popcorn, Pork Belly Sliders, and Ganache Stuffed Figs.  So you’ll get some interesting and inspired holiday cuisine suggestions along with wines to go with them. 

Oh, yeah – and Marina Orlova is on the cover, and she is ridiculously hot.

Enjoy the issue, and let’s drink a toast to a low-stress run through upcoming Holiday season.

Cheers!

(images: mutineermag.com)

Napa Cabs Need to Watch Their Backs (Washington Wine on the Rise While the Economy Tanks)

Vinted on September 30, 2009 binned in California wine, wine publications

Pssst.

Hey, Napa Cab.  Yeah, you. 

You better watch yer back!

That’s the underlying theme that I gleaned from a recent report by research group Wine Opinions.  The report was introduced at the last Wine Industry Financial Symposium in Napa.  There’s been a good amount of interesting discussion on the ‘Global Interwebs’ about the report’s list of top wine bloggers, measured by how frequently the blogs were visited by the wine industry respondents who contributed to the report survey.  I should note that the top 2 bloggers in the report (Eric Asimov and Eric Orange) aren’t technically bloggers… which probably says something about wine blogging but that’s fodder for another post (or another blogger)…

Anyway, the report, titled Tracking the Trends of the Wine Trade, collects the views of wine trade insiders (mostly male, and mostly Boomers) on the current state of affairs in the world of wine.  Outside of the report’s take on the movers & shakers of the wine blogging community, not much has been mentioned about the report’s implications on the wine industry itself, and on Napa wine in particular, or more specifically on Napa Cabernet

This is where it helps to know one of the report’s participants, because the report potentially says a lot about how the wine industry, and its customers (that’s you) are viewing Napa Cab right now.  The Wine Opinions report has a message for Napa Cab. 

And that message is… Watch your back… Washington is fast at your heels…

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1WineDude in the L.A. Times (More on Wine Competition Controversy)

Vinted on September 7, 2009 binned in about 1winedude blog, wine publications

“One not only drinks wine, one smells it, observes it, tastes it, sips it, and—one talks about it.”
- King Edward VII of England

If the events of the past several days are any indication, one also enters it into wine competitions, and then one talks – and talks, and talks – about the results!

In case you’ve been living inside of a bottle lately, here’s a recap.:

Last week, the Journal of Wine Economics issued a report that included an article by Robert T. Hodgson titled An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions.  Hodgson’s report analyzed data garnered from 13 wine competitions and more-or-less concluded that the distribution of medals from those competitions showed no difference statistically then if the medals had been awarded by chance.

My personal take was that the report lacked sufficient analysis of the potential context impacting wine competitions for the data to support the conclusion drawn in the report – even if that conclusion might ultimately be true. Several people agreed and disagreed with me – which is one of the great things about blogging, after all!

The article was probably designed to kick-off discussion on the relative value of wine competitions in general, and no mater what your view of Hodgson’s analysis, it would be difficult to refute it’s success in doing just that.

The repercussions of the report were discussed on Dr. Vino, Vinography, and right here on 1wineDude.com – and judging by the excellent and myriad opinions on the topic that were voiced in the responses to those articles, the topic has more legs than half a glass of 16% abv Grenache.  The topic even found its way into the discussion forums on the mead website GotMead.com (seriously).

Topping it all off, on Friday the Business Section of the L.A. Times ran a story by Jerry Hirsch on the aftermath of the report, in which I was quoted.  What I liked about the L.A. times piece, aside from the fact that they spelled the name of my blog correctly (though they incorrectly stated that I am a Certified Wine Educator – I’m not, I’m a Certified Specialist of Wine, which is a different cert. but from the same organization), was that it had a slightly different take on the report  – namely, how the competition results are used after the competition is over…

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