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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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.
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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