Welcome to the first edition of the Weekly Wine Web Wrap-up (W4..?), where Dude shares some of his favorite wine news bites from the past week (Dude spends
too much a goodly amount of time trolling the ‘net for interesting wine tidbits)!
Giant Wine Glasses Invade Britain
In this article from the International Herald Tribune, the Associated Press reports that Britain’s Parliament blames part of the country’s rising tide of problem drinking (particularly among women) on the growing portion size of common servings of alcoholic beverages, like wine. I’ve previously cautioned about the same thing (restaurant wine glass portion size, that is) for wine lovers to look out for when dieting.
Cult Cabernet Prices Aren’t the Only Wine Crime in CA
The Napa Valley register reported on what appears to be an inside job of high-end wine theft from Jackson Family (Kendall-Jackson) Wines in Sonoma County. The accused men reportedly made off with $200,000 worth of wines – presumably they were going to use that money to buy four bottles of Harlan…
If you follow wine on the web, you’d have been hard-pressed (ha-ha) to miss the less than stellar reviews of the latest wine-related film, Bottle Shock, about the famed “Judgment of Paris” event that put U.S. wine on the map as a serious contender in the international market. I suppose this film is meant to be the wine equivalent of Miracle, but it lacks the ass-kicking coolness of Big Trouble in Little China‘s Kurt Russel, and was therefore doomed from the start. Plus, this movie’s villains (the French) aren’t nearly as cool as Lo Pan.
Speaking of China…
According to Wines-Info.com, China is poised to be anything but little in terms of wine sales in 2008, as the market for wine consumption continues to grow in China and Russia. Hmm… let’s see… where have I heard this type of prediction before…? Oh, yeah, I’ve heard it from every industry in every year for the last 15 years, most of which have not really done bumpkis to penetrate the Chinese market. But I’m sure this one will be different, right?
Fight the Power!
Another Senate bill to challenge a state’s stupidly archaic wine shipping laws is coming up in New Mexico. If you’ve not checked out FreeTheGrapes.org and written your state legislators to let them know you want them to stop their evil ways… well, then shame on you!
Fight the Power! Part Deux
Michigan residents are once again upholding their fierce reputation by taking the wine shipping situation into their own hands. MLive.com reports that there is a thriving booze smuggling economy in the state, which presumably has grown as people increasingly try to bypass the state’s restrictive monopoly on alcohol sales. Dude never advocates illegal activity. But he might be contemplating a move to Michigan more seriously…
“I’m NOT Drunk Ociffer!”
File this one under the “We’ve all been there” department – the L.A. Times reports that the busloads of people hopping from wine tasting to wine tasting in CA’s wine regions are getting disruptive enough that many CA wineries are starting to institute stricter regulations on these booze cruises. Dude is all about having a good time, but an obnoxious wine-loving drunk is still an obnoxious drunk!
“Lovey, be a Darling and Pass the `82 Mouton, Would You?”
If you own your own island or 3rd world country, then you might be interested in this advice article in the New York Times, on the proper etiquette for tipping at a dinner when the final price tag on the check “is built from $600 of food and $1,000 of wine but the $1,000 comprises three bottles“. Whoa, such a dilemma… maybe you could just offer the server a weekend at your 14-room cottage in the outer Hebrides in lieu of a tip?
Just in time for St. Valentine’s day, the Wall Street Journal has a nice introductory treatise on dessert wines. Dude has a serious sweet tooth, and he loves him some dessert wine. If you’ve not ventured into the realm of higher-end sweet wines because you think that you prefer your wines dry, check this article out because it may convince you of the truth (that you’re cheating yourself out of some seriously good wine drinking, and that you’ve been drinking “dry” wines that actually have a fair amount of residual sugar in them…).
Cheers – and mind your shadow!
OK, so Dude is waaaaaaaaaaaaay late in giving this event props and publicity blogging love… But in the case of love, later is always better than never (that’s what I always say anyway – and I come from a fine, distinguished, and long line of justifiers!).
The on-line Wine Book Club has been launched earlier this month, with the first edition being hosted over at McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail. I met David McDuff recently at Moore Brothers and I can tell you from first-hand experience that the guy has serious wine smarties, especially when it comes to boutique Italian, German, French, and Austrian wineries. So by the Dude’s standards, David seems like a splendid choice to get the wine book club ball a’rolling.
The first wine book that will be reviewed by the Wine Club is Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch.
No, not that David Lynch!…
This David Lynch is the beverage director over at NYC’s celebrated restaurant Babbo. Also, I’m pretty sure that there aren’t any bizarre dream sequences in this book… or hot naked shots of Naomi Watts either… at least, not that I’ve come across so far in my reading (but a Dude can hope…!). And if you wanna peruse glossies of Naomi Watts naked (meaning she was naked in the pics, not you naked while perusing them), that’s probably best done while learning about Aussie wines. Not that the Dude spent any appreciable time considering it. Or for that matter searching the Internet for erotic-but-still-tasteful photos of Namoi Watts for this post. At least, not too much time.
Er, uhm, was I saying something about a book??
Anyway, this mighty tome on Italian vino (which also features Italian wine region recipes by Mario Batali, by the way) looks intimidating at first glance, but it’s actually a very quick read – and there is still more than enough time for you to pick up a copy, join the book club love over at shelfari.com, and contribute to the reviews (due date is Feb. 26). Future events may be coordinated from a new website devoted to the book club – so watch this space.
Cheers – and happy reading!
Whenever I’m asked about Wine 2.0, the conversation usually goes something like this:
“Hey Dude – what exactly is Wine 2.0 anyways? Is that, like, some future technology where wine will get instantly zapped into my glass, like on Star Trek? ‘Cause that would, like, seriously rule.”
Uh… not quite. I’ve found this a confusing topic as well, and I’m even a tech-savvy nerd-type. After all, it’s a bit of an amorphous term, but even the casual wine geek will have noticed the term cropping up on the web. It must be important if everyone’s talkin’ about it, right? Some wine blogs even have their own sections devoted to it.
So what is this Wine 2.0 stuff all about?…
Wine 2.0 is basically just the concepts of Web 2.0 applied to the world of wine. And it’s starting to turn that world on its head (er, cork)!
“Power To The People – Right On!”
Wine 2.0 might best be described as “Power to the People.”
Web 2.0 is about the migration of publishing and social network out of the hands of a (relatively) few controlled powers and into the hands of ordinary folks. Think about what blogs, social networking websites (like MySpace), and instant communication /chat tools (like Twitter) have done in recent years: they’ve opened up the world of publishing to literally millions upon millions of people, all sharing ideas, offering opinions, and influencing each other’s decisions.
What we are now seeing in the wine world is that wine reviews, and wine topics in general, are no longer just the territory of a few elite publishers of books, magazines and websites. They are also now part of a huge global community of hundreds of people, interacting in a very big online wine conversation.
Another way to look at it is that any talentless dimwit with a PC, an Internet connection, and an under-developed wine palate can set up an opinionated blog, MySpace page, twitter account, on-line affiliate store, merchandising page, and write & sell media like books online in practically no time at all.
Uh… wait a minute… on second thought, ignore that last paragraph!!!
Anyway, the Wine 2.0 phenomenon is starting to impact winemakers, who are realizing the power shift that is taking place (and are starting to send wines to bloggers for reviews, for example). You can contribute to this influential conversation – by blogging, “twittering,” and generally just visiting and commenting on wine websites that you enjoy. That’s the good news.
The bad news? Wine 2.0 is confusing as hell and the online marketplace is as fragmented as a busted wine bottle. Every marketer and their sister wants in on Wine 2.0 and its huge potential customer base; and because social networking translates into big money, you will find that nearly every Wine 2.0 website has some requirement for you to create an account so that you can share wine reviews with friends.
Kind of like MySpace or Facebook, only drunker.
The trouble is that everyone wants to be the Facebook of Wine 2.0, so all of these websites have their own community. And they don’t talk to the other communities. For example: You wanna buy wine online? There’s Snooth, WineQ (my personal fave, since it operates a bit like Netflix), and WineZap. Wanna share some wine reviews? Well, you’ll need to pick from about a dozen websites, including CellarTracker, Cork’d, Wineography, Vino, GrapeFoot, Wine Commune, OpenBottles, BottleTalk, Vinorati, Adegga… are you going insane yet?
Perhaps someday, someone will smarten up and just create a Facebook widget application that interfaces to one of the better wine sales websites and – voilà – you’ve got your social networking and your wine sales without having to exhaust the poor wine consumer with dozens of different online Wine 2.0 communities.
OK, I gotta go call one of the big wigs at WineQ and offer them my idea for $10K…
In the spirit of all things Wine 2.0-ish, I’ve opened up a second Twitter feed that will feature my “mini” wine reviews (the reviews are mini – the wines are normal size). Stop by and Twitter me up!
Dude’s been dabbling in the art of interpreting website traffic results, and noticed in the process that lots of folks are finding the 1WineDude blog while searching for advice on the CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) exam.
Well, Dude has passed this exam and he is here to help!
I’ve written before on this topic, offering CSW exam advice based on how I nearly totally screwed myself on the exam due to my poor prep. work. So I thought I’d offer some advice about the exam itself (without giving you any actual questions, of course… shame on you for thinking that!). I’m assuming that most of you out there contemplating the CSW are already wine lovers, or industry types who have opportunity to taste wine, and so you’re probably already cool with wine varietal taste profiles and the like. That’s good – because the exam will test you on your knowledge of those elements. But what else do you need to be an ‘A’ student? Cue the Sam Cooke tunes…
Don’t Know Much About History…
There’s a surprising amount of wine history that is fair game for inclusion on the exam. Unfortunately, this means that you will need to know some fairly obscure facts about wine-related names and dates. Concentrate on the people who were the “founding fathers” of modern wine cultivation and/or wine production in today’s major wine-producing areas (South Africa, California, etc.). Look at it this way: if nothing else, it’s an opportunity to impress party-goers at your next wine gathering, or get a leg up in a wine trivia drinking game.
Don’t Know Much About Geography…
You will need to be very comfortable with geography in order to do well on the exam. And because the Society of Wine Educators (SWE, who administer the exam) are based in the U.S., the CSW seemed to me to favor California geography questions over “Old World” (France, Germany, Italy) geography questions. You will need to know your CA wine geography. Having said that, remember that obscure the “Old World” geography questions are fair game, and other questions about varietals, styles, etc., are sometimes phrased in terms of geography (e.g., “a famous wine from the southern area of country X is…”).
the History, Geography and Chemistry of wine
for the CSW exam…
Don’t Know Much About a Science Book…
The most surprising aspect of the CSW exam, at least for me, was the healthy concentration of wine chemistry questions. Dude didn’t much care for Chemistry class when he was in high school, but he found the chemistry material in the on-line SWE Wine Academy to be fascinating. Good thing, too, because there will almost certainly be wine chemistry questions waiting for you on exam day (as there were for me). Some areas where it may help to concentrate your study time: Bacteria and wine faults, chemical composition of wine (both in the raw materials like grapes & skins, and in the finished product), and the uses of chemicals like sulfites in viniculture.
I hope this was a useful list for all of you CSW hopefuls out there. You can always contact the Dude if you’re looking for more advice. Good luck – and don’t forget your #2 pencils.