Going Pro: How To Taste and Rate Wines for Today’s Consumers. Sort of.

Vinted on November 3, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, going pro

Welcome to the first installment of Going Pro – what (I hope!) will be a (very) long series chronicling my foray into making whatever-the-hell-it-is that I do here a professional (read: paying) endeavor.
Every Wednesday on 1WineDude.com, I’ll be writing about some aspect / story / triumph / tragedy related to taking my passion – connecting YOU with the experience of wine – full-time.  I plan to do this every Wednesday until, well, until one or more of the following conditions have been met:

  1. I’ve “made it big” and no longer have time for the unwashed masses because I’m too busy cleaning my fleet of yachts.
  2. I can’t get Internet wi-fi reception from my cardboard box under the bridge.
  3. The articles have run their course and are no longer valuable (except to me as a means of therapy).

Okay… you’re right… number three will almost certainly never happen because I need all the therapy I can get.  Anyway…

The inaugural post  in this series is gonna be a loooong one… but I think you’ll find it worth the reading time commitment, and I hope you’ll be sufficiently moved to chime in with your thoughts.

I had a conversation with my friend Steve Heimoff about tasting preferences vs. wine ratings in the comments of a post last week, the topic of which had nothing whatsoever to do with tasting and rating wines (or, at least that’s what I thought when I wrote it, silly me!). That comment-convo seems pretty benign on the surface but it had some profound implications for me (probably because I ended up sort of talking to myself… more therapy… ok, maybe I need a drink…).  Implications that get to the heart of how I taste and rate wines, which n part gets to the heart of what it means to Go Pro with wine.

Now, much to the surprise of a lot of people, none more so than myself, I’m now in the invigorating and strangely frightening  position where my views / reviews on wines actually matter to some people. I’m the kind of guy who, literally to a fault, doesn’t want to let people down, and so I’ve had to take the position of rating and describing wines much, much more seriously in recent months – and I’d argue that this change in perspective is essential if you even want to start thinking about going pro when it comes to wine.

And since my approach to tasting is so dramatically different to what most of us are used to in the conventional wine press, it seemed a good place to start the Going Pro discussion…

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Wine Scores On Trial (The Wine Trials 2011 Robin Goldstein Interview)

Vinted on November 2, 2010 binned in book reviews, interviews

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaack.

Robin Goldstein, who shook the wine world’s foundations in 2008 when he won Wine Spectator’s restaurant Award of Excellence after creating a fictitious restaurant whose wine list included some of their lowest-scoring Italian wines in the past two decades (triggering one of the most heated public debates of the year in the wine world), is back.

With a vengeance.

Not that Robin’s disappeared since my last interview with him (which long-time 1WD readers will recall generated some very compelling debate – some of which, you will come to learn, influenced his latest project): he blogs regularly at BlindTaste.com, helped follow up the 2010 edition of The Wine Trials with The Beer Trials (a similar take on blind tasting ratings, applied to commercial beers), and has co-authored the new release The Wine Trials 2011.

Once again, I greedily devoured the results in my review copy of The Wine Trials, and just as in the 2010 versions, I found the them nothing short of compelling.

For starters, the consumers’ choices (for the most part) are very good bargain wines: take Dona Paula, Aveleda, Hugel, Nobilo, and Sebeka for examples.

Additionally, the blind tasting regimen for the trials (which once again pitted inexpensive wines against similar but much pricier brands) was enhanced with a bit more of the science behind them explained, and the results were similar to those in 2010: non-experts prefer less expensive wines, by a significant statistical margin.

Finally, Robin and his co-authors seem to take an even harder line in The 2011 Wine Trials against the use of point scores by leading wine publications, including taking Wine Spectator to task for how they handled the Award of Excellence kerfuffle in 2008. Whether or not you agree with their stance and their findings, the Wine Trials team at Fearless Critic Media are clearly not interested in backing down anytime soon.

Robin (once again) kindly agreed to talk to me about his controversial new release, and (once again) he has a lot to say about Wine Spectator, the 100 point wine scoring system, and how wine consumers can enhance their own perceptions (and use their own preferences to rally against snobbery in the wine world). Oh, yeah, and he talks RUSH!

Enjoy!…

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Wine Chiller Giveaway (and 1WineDude Reader Wine Fridge Discount)!

Vinted on November 1, 2010 binned in giveaways

During the month of November, we have teamed up with WineFridgesPlus.com to offer you a (literally) cool giveaway!

From now until December 1, 2010, you’ll get 10% off* any single-item built-in wine fridge purchase of $50 or more (*some new-fangled legalese restrictions apply, of course – we’re not that good – see details below) from WineFridgesPlus.com. 

At the same time, you can also enter to win a VinoTemp single-bottle wine chiller at http://www.winefridgesplus.com/giveaways (the prize will be awarded after December 1st – check the link for full details)!

Depending on your wine storage needs, this could end up saving you up to $500 so it’s worth checking out.

My take on wine fridges is that you’re better off going high-end with a unit that controls both temperature (obviously the most important, especially for those of you without a cellar) and humidity

(fridge air tends to be dry, which can affect cork closures, though I never once had an issue with this with my relatively low-end wine fridge when I had it running for several years) – a quick look through the WFP offerings shows a few that have humidity reservoirs like this model.

All in all, I’d still opt for an underground cellar over any other wine storage system, but if you try that route in many parts of the U.S. or U.K. you will end up with a swimming pool underneath your house, so I understand the need for these things.  Some of them also pack anywhere from 50 to 200 bottles in a relatively small amount of space, which is great if you are limited in available wall/shelf space.

Another thing to ask about is how the wine fridges regulate temperature – some winemakers with whom I’ve discussed this topic have argued that constant small temperature swings are almost as bad for wine storage as quick dips/spikes in temperature; ideally you’re looking for something that performs temperature stability in the gentlest ways possible.

The WFP item that filled me with the most G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome, the name we in the music biz give to that feeling that compels you to keep buying gear/gadgets/instruments/what-have-you, despite the pleas to the contrary from your inner conscience and probably also from your significant other) was this wall-mounted thermoelectric wine cooler.  That kind of thing just screams “wine badass” the same way that having a pool table screams “man cave.”  No idea if it’s any good (or not), I just know that the pic makes me want it (sad, really, I know).

Anyway – full details on the discount available after the jump.

Would love YOUR thoughts on using wine fridges, and if you take advantage of the discount please check back in and let us know how it goes!

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