Articles Tagged wine news

In Defense Of White Wine (Thoughts On Expert Scores And Red Wine Bias)

Vinted on November 2, 2016 binned in commentary, wine news
Red wine bias

White wines get the review shaft (image: winecurmudgeon.com)

A little over a week ago, my friend Jeff Siegel published details by PhD Suneal Chaudhary, who analyzed over 64,000 wine scores, dating to the `70s, from “major wine magazines.” The study’s aim was to ascertain if red wines routinely receive higher point score reviews than white wines (other styles were presumably ignored).

Long-time 1WD readers know that I have become a big fan of statistically relevant data, and the data in this case (including how those data were handled) are, for sure, statistically relevant, in sample size, time duration, and applied analysis.

It’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions, but Jeff summed up the congruence of the findings with the common sense experiences of wine geeks everywhere nicely in his original post on the subject:

“We don’t pretend that these results are conclusive, given the variables involved. Red wines may be inherently better than white wines (though that seems difficult to believe). They certainly cost more to make, and that might affect the findings. The review process itself may have influenced the study. Not every critic publishes every wine he or she reviews, and those that were published may have been more favorable to reds than whites. And, third, the scoring process, flawed as it is, may have skewed the results regardless of what the critics did.

Still, given the size of the database, and size matters here, Suneal’s math shows something is going on. And that’s just not our conclusion. I asked three wine academics to review our work, and each agreed the numbers say that what is happening is more than a coincidence. That’s the point of the chart that illustrates this post – 90 percent of the 2010 red wines that we had scores for got 90 points or more.”

What to make of all of this?

Personally, I think that we wine geeks ought to be a bit more flabbergasted at the discrepancy, considering that, in general, white wines are superior to reds aromatically…

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Alcohol Probably Isn’t Good For You (But Don’t Start Crying Just Yet)

Vinted on February 16, 2016 binned in commentary, wine health, wine news

Recently, a 1WD reader wrote in to ask me what I thought about the recent spate of news indicating that alcohol is bad for your health. Here’s his initial correspondence, which he gave me permission to share with you all:

Hey, Dude,
I was reading a few articles in Decanter for class when I came across one (admittedly attention-grabbing) article. The UK’s equivalent of the Surgeon General has apparently decided there’s “no safe level of drinking”. She has also cut the guideline maximum for men weekly to 14 units (a unit is approximately 2.5 US fluid ounces of 13% abv wine). Here is the article: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/uk-alcohol-guidelines-no-safe-drinking-level-as-daily-limit-cut-287142/.

To put it mildly, I think this is complete and utter bullshit. It’s not that I think moderate alcohol consumption is bad–far from it. Indeed, I think there are people who should try to avoid alcohol completely, including those who have no control over their own drinking whatsoever. However, from what I’ve read over the years, there is a “J-shaped curve” associated with various diseases (particularly coronary-related) and alcohol consumption. A quick internet search led me to this for cardiovascular health: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/562474_2, and WineAnorak had this for other benefits: http://www.wineanorak.com/healother.htm.

While there are health risks associated with alcohol use, as well, including oesophageal cancers, there are health risks associated with nearly everything. Taking a stroll after work is healthy, for example, but there’s a risk I could get hit by a car, or get hypothermia or heat stroke (depending on the weather), or bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus. Even hiding at home trying to avoid all risks of mortality doesn’t rule out dying of various things, such as unexpected meteor impact, heart attack from a combination of lack of exercise and stress from perceived impending doom, or starvation since I’d run out of groceries eventually if I refuse to leave the house. Paranoia to that extent is almost reason to cause someone to drink.

Sorry about that rant. I read that article and it riled me up; I felt it would be something I’d love to hear your opinion and commentary on, as well.

In a follow-up correspondence, he had this to add about the subject:

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford also wrote an interesting article about the topic: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/opinion/jefford-on-monday/jefford-on-monday-uk-drinking-limits-toxic-advice-287989/.
 I read another two studies about raised breast cancer risks from light-to-moderate alcohol usage as compared to abstinence this last week.  One was a study of about 48000 people from the 1980s to 2010.  The other was a meta-study.  Both found an approximately 10% risk of breast cancer in abstainers, and an approximately 12.5% risk in light-to-moderate drinkers. I didn’t see anything about mortality, metastasizing, or recurrence.  It didn’t seem that other risk factors besides smoking were necessarily controlled for.  I’ll have to use some Google-fu to find them again, but though neither was precisely friendly towards alcohol, what I understood from their conclusions was essentially, “There’s a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer from drinking alcohol.  It’s not much to worry about, but if you are paranoid, you can stop drinking.”
Now, bearing in mind that, to the best of my knowledge, neither he nor I are medical professionals, here’s my take on all of this…

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It’s Not “Hipster” If It’s Already “Mainstream” (On Delectable And The Changing Tastes Of Today’s Fine Wine Consumers)

Vinted on July 7, 2015 binned in commentary, wine news

Last week, one of the nation’s only real newspapers (the New York Times) published a little piece about the popular wine review mobile app Delectable. What I found most interesting about the article was the discussion of Delectable’s user trend data with the company’s resident wine pro, Julia Weinberg.

Here’s a look at the Delectable data as graphed by NYT:

Delectable user data

image: NYT

And here’s what they had to say about wine consumption trends suggested by those data:

“…wines from the Loire Valley in France and Piedmont in Italy — again already favored among the wine pros — have become slightly more popular among regular users, while interest in the typically bolder wines of Tuscany and especially Bordeaux has fallen. Ms. Weinberg said that does not necessarily mean that drinkers are souring on Tuscany and Bordeaux but rather that they are consuming a broader array of wines. ‘It’s always a tricky question,’ she said. ‘Are these kind of higher-acid, lower-alcohol hipster wines taking over? Or is there just so much more access to a greater diversity of wines? One of the reasons why wine is so exciting these days is there’s so much more in the mix.'”

I’ve got a problem with this.

Not because I question the data, but because we have people referring to higher-acid, lower-alcohol wines as “hipster.” It’s not hipster if it’s already mainstream, folks…

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Science Has Not Really Spoken (On The Study Of Big Flavor Wines)

Vinted on April 15, 2015 binned in commentary, wine news

Ok, geeks; REMAIN CALM.

globe and mail

image: theglobeandmail.com

That’s the message we need to repeat to our geeky wine selves after reading the article “Science has spoken: Big wine doesn’t mean more flavour” by Beppi Crosariol in The Globe and Mail.

In case you missed it, the scoop is that a rather cleverly executed experiment involving 26 “relatively inexperienced wine consumers” who tasted wine and had their noggins MRI scanned revealed that those tasters had a bit more brain activity happening when the wines that they tasted were lighter-bodied and lower in alcohol.

To the tape:

“Contrary to prevailing wine-industry wisdom that most consumers prefer brawn to finesse, the scanner revealed startling images. There was greater activity in the taste-processing regions while the subjects drank the lighter wines. The implication: Lower alcohol encourages stronger attention to aroma and flavour nuances.”

Is this finding interesting? Hell yes.

Is it definitive enough that we can draw any serious conclusions from it? HELL NO!

Also, even if we did draw conclusions from this study, I am not sure those conclusions are where are focus should actually be trained…

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