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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 291

Branching Out

Vinted on March 6, 2009 under about 1winedude blog
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

The last year or two have (or is that has?… screw it, whatever) seen the advent of some great new publications that focus on adult beverages (there may be other publications focusing on other adult topics, but we’re not going to go into them here…).

Many of these new kids in town are taking a fresh approach to enjoying wine – at least, it’s fresh when compared to the more established wine appreciation publications that (falsely) present wine appreciation on a pedestal, as if it were only achieved after much ardor – and money, preferably on their products – have been spent.

We all know how I feel about that, so no need to go into that topic, either…

Take for example my buddies Mutineer Magazine, who are combining their fresh approach with the one-two punch of printed media and on-line content.  We know how I feel about them, so no need to… ah, you get the point.

The bottom line is that this fresh new publication wave has given us more reasons to feel excited about printed wine media than we have had in a long, long time.

Which is why I’m excited to announce that I will, in the very near future, be involved with two such publications:

  1. I will be contributing to Boston-based magazine The Second Glass, with a broad-spectrum and longer-format column on wine appreciation (right up the alley for someone as, uhmm… brevity-challenged as me).  I’m hoping this will be monthly, but hey, I’ve got a soon-to-be toddler at the house who is crawling around now, so we’ll see how that goes.Those of you familiar with The Second Glass already know that they have a strong on-line presence to back up their printed mag, and I’m hoping to leech as much website traffic as humanly possible contribute in my own small way to their already high-caliber writing.
  2. I will also be taking on the wine writer duties for a brand new Philadelphia-area print publication, working in association with web-based food and beverage site WC Dish, called Chester County Cuisine & Culture.  CCCC will be focused squarely on the local Philly-area food and music scene, and I’ll be providing (gulp!) shorter pieces that I hope will provide a chance to highlight and promote the growing (both in quantity and quality) Brandywine Valley winemaking region.  I expect to cross-post a good bit of the BV coverage right here on 1WD, but while we may see this blog developing a slight predilection for my local wine offerings, I’ve no plans to change the blog format to concentrate only on PA-based wine.

More on the above as events develop.

Cheers – and happy reading!

(images: 1WineDude.com, thesecondglass.com)

Serve or Die: The Importance of Wine Service in Today’s Economy

Vinted on March 4, 2009 under commentary

The economy is in the toilet.

Not exactly a news flash, right?

So why does it seem to be such a revelation to wine bars, restaurants, an wine tasting rooms that they are in a battle for their very survival in this economic crisis?  I say revelation because so few of the ones that I run into seem to get it, in terms of understanding that raising the bar on their service might be an important survival tactic in today’s economy.

Poor wine-related service has been the focus of a few recent posts in the blog-o-world (e.g., see Wine Diver Girl’s “Hospitality Fail”), and I myself had a recent misadventure at a local wine bar / restaurant (which shall remain nameless but not anonymous) whose wine service has been on the skids since the departure of their wine director some months ago.

Certainly these days if you are in the wine service industry, then you are in a battle of survival for the fittest.  And what’s the evolutionary genetic mutation that will give you superiority to weather this economic storm over your rivals?

In a word: Better Service.

Crap.  That’s two words.

Anyway,  that’s the message that I took away from the excellent February issue of Sommelier Journal, which should absolutely be your field guide for any journey deep into the wine geek forest.  Not about “better service” being two words (I didn’t need the magazine to tellme that one), but about raising the bar on service being the equivalent to holding the high position on the ebenemy in this war for the ever-shrinking  dollars of customers’ disposable incomes. Ah, you know what I mean…

The February issue of SJ is dedicated entirely to the topic of bettering wine-related service – and not a moment too soon.  There are a number of standout articles offered up in February’s release, but the items that resonated the most with me were penned by former Roy’s wine director (and now consultant) Randy Caparoso:

The old approach of accumulating the biggest, most all-encompassing wine list possible has grown, well, old, and, in times like these, is about as useful as burning money… The battle for survival in 2009 may well hinge on improving the experience of our guests.

Sage advice.  It’s not rocket science, but it needs to be said loud and clear because it’s never been more true than in the economic downturn of 2009.

Randy should know – he’s been in the service business for, well, for about forever:

“When I started at 18, 19 years old, I was working with 40-, 50-, sometimes 60-year-old people who had been doing it since before I was born. That doesn’t exist any more, so in this day and age, service has to be well defined.”

Bingo.  This is NOT difficult to do – it’s only difficult to do consistently.  But your establishment’s life just might depend on it.

Getting a leg up on your competition might be as simple as offering better and more friendly service than your competition, even if you change nothing else about how you do business.  And it costs essentially nothing to get that started.

Back to Randy:

In a recession, improving service is the most cost-efficient path to success. You can kill ’em day and night on the floor, but service begins long before the guests walk in; in terms of a wine program, it means a list that not only enhances the cuisine, but is also readable and friendly. If you’re too lazy to offer descriptions of your best selections, or so naive as to think the majority of your guests actually enjoy wading through page after page of phone-book-like listings, you have only yourself to blame if you succumb to this battle that’s rattling our windows.”

Having a staff that’s not only friendly, they’re also knowledgeable about the wines on the menu and how they pair with your restaurant’s cuisine?  Sweet!  If I were in the service biz, I wouldn’t be considering that a luxury.

I’m well aware that these ideas are conceptually simple but sometimes difficult to deliver consistently well in practice.

Sure, it takes time and effort to train the staff, and to keep them educated, but your guests are now expecting this level of service – and if you don’t deliver it, your competition just might.

And then, well… you’re S.O.L.

Survival of the fittest.

Anyone in the wine service industry would do well to check out that February edition of Sommelier Journal.   Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

Cheers!

(images: sommelierjournal.com, jaunted.com, sfist.com)

3 Truths from the 10th Annual Open That Bottle Night 2009 (a Recap)

Vinted on March 2, 2009 under twitter taste live, wine 2.0

wilson

Those (recently hungover) of you who took part in the 10th Annual Open That Bottle Night may still be wallowing in the glorious, albeit headache-riddled post-celebratory vibe of having enjoyed a special bottle of wine for no particular reason at all.

That’s right, baby – we opened it up, and drank it all… just because it was there!

Those of you who joined me and the dozens of others in the interactive, on-line tasting for OTBN at Twitter Taste Live might also have come away with a few other realizations about wine in the world of high-tech.

I certainly did. And I’m not talking about the fact that Craig and the Bin Ends Wine staff did such an excellent job rounding up great wines from the Wilson Daniels portfolio, as well as hosting the event (though those things are certainly true).

No, I’m talking about some truths that run deep into the world where fine wine and technology intersect – and they are truths that anyone involved in selling wine in this highly interconnected world had better sit up and notice, stat.

And here they are…

3 Truths Revealed from the 10th Annual Open That Bottle Night

  1. Wine is more social now than ever.
    It probably seems silly to point out that wine is a social beverage, since as a collective populace we’ve known that for a few thousand years.  But it is worth pointing out that the Internet is highlighting wine’s social gadfly status and taking it to new and ever-more-interesting heights.Open That Bottle Night probably saw its largest participation ever this past weekend, thanks to the advent of social network.  On-line social networks (including Twitter Taste Live and the Open Wine Consortium) were all over OTBN this year.  Let’s look at the twitter event – thousands of new twitter accounts are created every day, and the network handles millions of messages on a daily basis.  The OTBN Twitter Taste Live event trended to the #2 topic during it’s run this past weekend – which means that potentially millions of on-line eyeballs were watching a several dozen wine lovers chatted to each other in real-time about what they thought of the Wilson Daniel wine selections.  Which leads me to truth #2…
  2. The Internet itself IS social networking.2009-03-01_110402
    Millions of people may have been watching the OTBN TTL event, if even for only a few minutes.  That is a golden marketing opportunity in terms of exposure for Bin Ends Wine and Wilson Daniels.  While it’s still a bit small-time in comparison to television ad exposure, it’s far cheaper and far more effective, because a) more and more people are turning to alternative means (like the Internet) for product recommendations and b) those same people are more willing to trust a friendly recommendation than one given to them in a one-way message from traditional advertising.The days of one-way, traditional media advertising – including advertising for wine – is going the way of the dinosaur and Wayne Newton’s career. Leading us to truth #3…
  3. You don’t need a master plan to get started in getting social, but you’d better get social now.
    Twitter.com doesn’t really have a master plan for utilizing the Internet and on-line social network to make money.  Bin Ends Wine and Twitter Taste Live probably don’t have one, either.  But it doesn’t matter right now – they’re in the game, pushing the envelope to see what will and won’t work in the space.  Bottom line is that whoever is involved in making wine social on-line right now is going to reap the benefits, even if they’re not sure what those benefits are yet, and it doesn’t cost them much in terms investment (or overall risk) to do it.If you’re in the wine business and you’re not part of this trend, you need to get involved, and you need to do it NOW, even if you don’t quite “get it” – it will come to you eventually, so not understanding the clear benefits of using social networking needs to be the last thing you’re worrying about.

As for the wines we tasted for OTBN, here are my mini-review takes:

05 Marc Kreydenweiss Kritt Pinot Blanc “Les Charmes” (Alsace): Citrus & pear, w/ a honeyed finish that seems to last for an hour. Great buy.

06 Domaine Pierre Morey Aligoté (Burgundy): Someone just shot an acid laser into my mouth! Needs seafood cerviche (the rawer the better).

05 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Perrières (Costières de Nîmes): Brings the barnyard funk, in a good way, w/ dark cherry, leather, & bacon. Yum.

06 Tenuta di Biserno Insolgio del Cinghiale (Tuscany): Kickin’ blend with tobacco leaf, smoke, & dark jammy fruit. Prepare ye some Bison!

Hey, look at that, there’s an example of how this social on-line stuff spirals outward in ways that you don’t think about right away – those mini-reviews are even more exposure for the Wilson Daniels wines, at almost no cost to them… so those 900+ of my twitter followers who didn’t see the wine reviews this weekend in real time might catch them if they’re among the few hundred following my wine mini reviews, or they could be among those visiting the blog daily, or they’ll see them if they are part of the few hundred that subscribe to my blog via email

I think (I hope) that you get the point – start getting involved!

Cheers!

(images: twittertastelive.com, 1winedude.con, twitter.com)

Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2009-02-28

Vinted on February 28, 2009 under twitter, wine mini-reviews
  • NV Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee (CA): You could do a lot worse in a sparkler for <$10. Apple dominates. Refreshing, and very uncomplicated. #
  • 06 Waters Crest Cabernet Franc Reserve (North Folk, LI): Tangy blackberries on wet grass. With a side of green peppers. But a little too $$. #
  • 06 Washington Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (WA): Addition of Syrah gives this serious blueberry & blackberry jam action. Almost a steal at $10. #
  • 06 Big Sky Pinot Noir (WA): Named after Montana, made in WA, using Chilean grapes. And it tastes about as coherent as you’d expect from that #
  • 07 Arbor Crest Dionysus Vineyard Riesling (WA): CAUTION: Contents extremely acidic. Do NOT attempt contents of this bottle without food! #
  • 07 Pacific Rim Gewurztraminer (WA): Lighter body & more acidic making a food-friendly match for Asian fare. Passion fruit dominates (yum). #

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