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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 354

Food Review Weekly #3

Vinted on March 3, 2008 binned in wine publications
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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!

Just a quick reminder for you all to check out Food Review Weekly #3, this time hosted over at Candy Blog (Dude likes Candy Blog, because he’s got a serious sweet tooth).

Among the reviews are my 7-word take on Banfi’s Rosso di Montalcino, but more importantly a review of Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps, which totally rock.

Enjoy!


In the News: How Young Buyers are Impacting Winemaking

Vinted on March 2, 2008 binned in wine buying, wine news, winemaking

(image: darlingofourage.files.wordpress.com)

This is not your fathers wine buying.

There is a great little article posted today in SunJournal.com about how the tastes of a small, but extremely influential group of people are impacting the wine trade.

And they’re NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world, whose tendency to enjoy big, alcohol-laden fruit bombs have influenced wineries the world over to produce ‘bomb’-astic wines at all costs in order to chase the high-end of the big wine magazines’ point rating systems.

These are 20-something sommeliers and wine directors that work for some of the most well-respected and expensive restaurants in the United States.

And the wines that they’re looking for? “Wines that are quirky, regional, with rich background stories…” Wow – definitely NOT your father’s fruit bomb style of wine!…

“Their challenge is to find a wine that they’re as excited about as the chef is … about the flavor of his vegetables from the farmers market…”

This is very good news for “old world” style wines from Italy and Spain, which are finding increasing favor with this growing influential set of wine buyers. And it might be bad news for the fruit-bomb makers, who are seeing a growing backlash in the consumer market against these styles of wine.

Now, I’ve met some of this 20-something sommelier set, and I can tell you that 1) they do prefer regional, exciting wines that offer something unique, 2) they always seek to compliment the chef’s food as much as humanly possible, and 3) their buying habits do help to set some trends with winemakers who are seeking to get a foothold into the exclusive high-end restaurant market.

What’s also very interesting, at least to the Dude here, is how the article ends. SunJournal.com quotes industry analyst Jon Fredrikson regarding if and how this trend may impact what wines start to fly off the supermarket shelves (as opposed to what is recommended at the tables of the nation’s high-end epicureans):

“We way overestimate the knowledge of the American consumer…”

Ouch. Is this true?

Dude’s opinion: I can see a great deal of merit in this ‘don’t-call-it pessimistic-call-it-realistic’ view. The fact is that most wine consumers just want a decent wine that they will enjoy, at a fair price. You can’t force people to make the jump into serious wine appreciation if they lack the desire to do so. But then again, introducing someone to a quirky, unique wine and in the process expanding their wine knowledge is one of the small pleasures of life for the Dude. I just don’t expect everyone to be into that – if you forced your passion for, say, crocheting onto me, I would be finding an excuse to spend a little quality time away from you (like 10 or 12 years worth).

Your thoughts…? Shout `em out in the comments.

Cheers!

A PLCB Moment

Vinted on February 29, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, PLCB

Because it’s been about a week since I railed against them. And you’ve gotta keep those people on their toes, right?

A Spy In the House of Booze: How to Survive an Industry Wine Tasting

Vinted on February 28, 2008 binned in best of, wine industry events, wine tasting

Booth babes. Row upon row of free alcohol to sample, some of it top notch. Hobnobbing with local wine celebs (e.g., Marnie Old).

Man, the lengths I will go to give me readers a decent story!

I was recently (in Q4 2007) asked by a local restaurant / wine bar to help them out an industry tasting event, held in downtown Philadelphia (i.e., sample some wines, help determine what they should be serving up in the near future).


This particular event was hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Pennsylvania. SWS is one of the major suppliers of wine brands to the PA Liquor Control Board (the state-run monopoly that controls alcohol sales and distribution within PA). PA is the only state-controlled market in which SWS operates; that’s because when you’re a big supplier, you simply cannot argue with the billions of dollars at stake that are controlled by PA’s potentially unconstitutional monopoly.

So what’s it like to attend one of these events? Read on, dear reader, reader on…

First, these big portfolio tastings typically take place at a swanky location. In this case, it was the Crystal Tea Ballroom (which I’d just visited a few weeks prior for the Gravedigger’s Ball in support of the Laurel Hill Cemetery).

There are, literally, a dozen or more rows of tables, each hosted by a winery, distributor, or importer who have their portfolio available for tasting. Most of these tables are staffed by young salespeople (“booth babes”), and are visited by equally young and beautiful sales reps, occasionally punctuated by a local wine celeb., or a wine geek (such as the Dude here).

There is a lot of sipping. There is a lot of tasting. There is a lot of handshaking. There is a lot of note-taking, smiling, and photo-shooting.

What there is not a lot of, is spitting - despite the proliferation of buckets provided specifically for that purpose. And that means there is a lot of drunken buzz happening at the end of the evening. In no way am I picking on SWS here – I’m pretty sure that this scenario would play out at any similar industry event (isn’t that one of the reasons why people want to get into sales in the first place?).

Personally, Dude was doing very well – at first – and enjoying the excellent wines on display (particularly the Quintessa, as well as possibly the greatest array of Champagnes I’ve ever had the pleasure of comparing). Doing well, that is, until late in the event, when one of the booth babes grabbed our group and ushered us through the vodka section – where we capped off a series of rapid-fire tasting with shots of vodka that ran in excess of $200 a bottle.

I’m the 1WineDude, not the ‘ManyVodkasDude’. My party spent the latter part of the evening stumbling around City Hall, looking for bar food to quell our munchies, and trying to remember our names.

If you ever find yourself invited to one of these events, how best to survive the experience?

Get there early. The event will eventually get packed, and it’s probably going to be big. You will want to scope out the areas of most interest to you, and pace yourself based on the amount of time that you have to spend there.

Map out your plan of attack. This is the benefit of an early arrival – you can plan out exactly what booths you want to visit before the crowds arrive, start imbibing, and generally make the scene more confusing for you. I suggest dividing up the booths into categories such as “Must See”, “B Priority”, and “Will Check Out If Time Permits.” That way, you try the things you and/or your employer are most interested in, and save the rest for a more relaxed run-through afterwards.

Don’t Ignore the Little Guys. You will find wine brands that you’d not known about before, and you will like some of them. You should expect a handful of “ah-ha!” moments with some of the lesser-known producers – and they may be exactly what you’re looking for to pair with your restaurant’s newest dish, etc.

Take quick tasting notes, but not too many. You will NOT have time to write lengthy tasting notes. Recording some details is essential, but I’d recommend planning on writing one sentence (or less) on each wine you taste. Stick to the basics and record just enough info. that you will be able to make sense of it the next day.

Remember that Sex Sells. All salespeople and advertisers worth their salt know this. You will be bombarded by beautiful people. Remember, you’re there to taste wine, not award your or your company’s money to the distributor that has the best-looking staff.

Don’t Forget to Spit. Well… duh! I’m not saying don’t enjoy a full glass of a killer cab on display. But I am saying that if you don’t spit, you will get hammered – probably not the best way to make an impression at an industry event.

If possible, carpool. Even when you spit, you absorb some alcohol through the tops and sides of your mouth. Eventually, it’s going to impair your tasting judgment, especially at an event where there is so much tasting to be performed. This is why you should hit your highest priority / must-see booths first, take quick notes, and probably try to carpool (or take public transportation) when your tasting event is over. Safety first, as they say.

Cheers!

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