Monday, November 17, 2014

What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it, unless...

...you sell wine in California. A few weeks ago, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) cracked down on a few small wine and beer producers because they tweeted (well, actually retweeted) information about a retailer's (Save Mart) event that featured their products. What's wrong with that, you might ask? Don't most businesses want to inform their customers where their products can be purchased?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Matt Kramer got it wrong about bullies who put down wine

Without wine lore, and wine tasting, and wine talk, and wine labels, and, yes, wine writing and rating—the whole elaborate idea of wine—we would still get drunk, but we would be merely drunk. The language of wine appreciation is there not because wine is such a special subtle challenge to our discernment but because without the elaborate language—without the idea of wine, held up and regularly polished—it would all be about the same, or taste that way. —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Two days ago, in Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer penned a polemic against nameless skeptics of the sensory value of wine. In Kramer's defense, he attempted to use an article by Adam Gopnik (yes, I misspelled his name (twice) in a comment over on the Jackson Family Wines blog, and for that I apologize) in the The New Yorker as evidence this anti-intellectualism bullying. The problems with him basing his condemnation on Gopnik's article are twofold. First, the article is more than ten years old. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest that you do so. Yes, it reads as if it were written yesterday (or maybe tomorrow) and that is the sign of a good writer. But nevertheless it was written at a different point along the wine industry continuum and was actually an editorial on the 2004 state of wine prompted by William Echikson's book, Noble Rot. Second, and more important, Kramer completely missed the point of Gopnik's article. Kramer chose to quote Gopnik out of context. He should have started his article with the full quote that I've provided above. Gopnik actually accomplished what Kramer was attempting to do by making the case that wine talk and wine description are an integral "part of what lets the experience happen."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Great American Beer Fest Kicks off

Tonight is a big night in the alcohol beverage world: The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) kicks off this evening in Denver, CO. I don't limit my description to just the beer industry because the wine and spirits industries should be taking note of what the Brewers Association accomplishes this week. GABF represents the largest public tasting of U.S. beer, and an actually meaningful competition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What is a Farm Winery?

A few weeks ago, the New York Department of Agriculture announced a decision aimed at helping farm wineries recover from the devastating Arctic Vortex event this past winter. This year, New York's farm wineries will be allowed to use out-of-state fruit to make their wines. Farm wineries in New York, by definition, must use 100% New York-grown fruit. Now, that may sound a bit draconian, but vintners have the choice of applying for a regular winery license or the more restrictive (and much cheaper) farm winery license. In addition to requiring 100% NY fruit, farm wineries are restricted to the amount of product they can sell. However, a farm winery may also "manufacture, bottle and sell fruit juice, fruit jellies and fruit preserves, tonics, salad dressings and unpotable wine sauces." Farm wineries can also operate "branch offices" (aka, tasting rooms).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Grape Collective's SpeakEasy

I've been out of town and away from computers for the better part of two weeks. I returned to my ancestral lands (Wisconsin) for a week of sun and boating. And yes, I ate lots of cheese and drank lots of Wisconsin beer. I should also note that I stopped at Upstream Brewing Company in Omaha and Empyrean Brewing Company in Lincoln on the journey to and from Cheeseheadland for some tasty Nebraskan beer. Perhaps my favorite find of the trip was a fantastic dinner (with Colombian and Venezuelan beer) at La Taguara in Madison. The food was just delicious and authentic. If you find yourself in Madison, go and thank me later.

Even though I had a beer bottle in my hand most of the time, wine was still on my mind. While away, Grape Collective published an interview with me for their get-to-know-a-wine-blogger series, SpeakEasy. Check out the interview here, and I should be able to update the blog here in the near future! 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dr. Oldman won't shut up about the Wine Bloggers Conference

Forgive me. I tried to talk him out of it, but he was insistent on chiming in again on the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Oh boy did I miss out by not attending the Wine Bloggers Conference this year. I saw a few bloggers complain about one of the sessions that was dubbed the, "grand-fatherly white male traditional print writer" session. That sounds like the perfect seminar to me, so I investigated a little more. Turns out that there was a second session dedicated to other older white male experts! Hot diggity! I was totally off in my initial assessment. Earlier this week, I watched a Youtube video of another seminar at the Wine Blogger's Conference titled, "How the Pros Taste." Oh, this gem could have been simply titled, "How to be Professional." I expect well-organized workshops at the Frontiers of Computational Physics Conference (which by the way is in Zurich next June if you're interested), but not at a conference devoted to the lowly art of blogging.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Harry Oldman on the Wine Bloggers Conference

With the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference wrapping up over the weekend, I heard from Dr. Harry Oldman, my extern. I was actually looking forward to attending this year, but my wife was in Panama for a conference and I had to stay home with Ben. Having never attended a WBC, I don't have a whole lot to say about the event, but Dr. Oldman was insistent on chiming in. I know I shouldn't give the crotchety old guy the attention he wants, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinions.

So, apparently the Wine Bloggers Conference was held this past weekend in Santa Barbara County. I don't consider myself a blogger (more of a human chameleon that can become a master at whatever I choose), so the big event wasn't on my calendar. You know how I found out about the conference? I saw it all over the news. ABC, CNN, FOX and NBC all picked up on the story. It was all Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams were talking about over the weekend. Even Wine Spectator published a special issue on the conference that arrived this morning.