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Who has the best job in wine?

best job in wine

And I don’t even have to wear a tie.

The Wine Curmudgeon, of course. I drink wine and tell people what it tastes like. How much better does any job — in wine or otherwise — get than that?

Which is why I was surprised to see this, “10 of the world’s best jobs in wine,” from the British trade magazine, The Drinks Business. Wine writing was only fourth, and while it was rated ahead of vineyard worker at No. 6 (No. 6? obviously written by someone who has never picked grapes on a 100-degree day for minimum wage or piecework), it was outranked by cellar manager, vineyard owner, and winemaker.

The rest of the list: 10, sommelier; 9, airline wine consultant; 8, wine brand owner; 7, tasting room manager; and 5, wine shop owner.

Of those that rank ahead of writing, I can understand winemaker, given that’s the whole point of wine. But vineyard owner? That’s farming, which combines the joy of picking grapes with the delight of exchanging spreadsheets with bankers, all the while staring at the sky and cursing the weather. And cellar manager? Consider these duties: Hiring people to work in the winery’s cellar and maintaining equipment. Hiring is bad enough, but maintaining equipment? Talk about chalk on a blackboard.

This is not meant as a criticism of any of these jobs, and anyone who enjoys them and does them well has my respect and admiration. Rather, it’s to note that I fully appreciate my good fortune in doing what I do. Yes, it’s sometimes work, whether grinding out a blog post when my brain is somewhere else, or tasting my way through a couple of dozen wines that not only taste the same, but are as stupid as a TV reality show. But it’s not working in a coal mine or behind the broiler at Burger King; I’m indoors, people respect my opinion, and I get to taste some tremendous wine. How much luckier can one person be?

Image courtesy of Vinography, using a Creative Commons license

Wine of the week: Guy Saget Pinot Noir La Petite Perriere 2012


guy saget pinot noirRegular visitors here know how difficult it is to find affordable pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir, even if you’re willing to spend as much as $20. The weak dollar is one reason, but quality Oregon and California pinots are equally as pricey. It’s just the way pinot is — the cheap stuff, even if it’s worth drinking, doesn’t taste like pinot, and the expensive stuff, even if it tastes like pinot, is priced beyond all but five percent of us.

That’s why I tried the Saget pinot noir ($13, sample, 12.5%), even though my hunch was that it would be difficult to find unless you lived in a big city with a top-notch independent wine shop. But the Wine Curmudgeon was that desperate.

The good news is that the wine is well worth looking for. The Saget is labeled French, which means the grapes to make it came from all over the country. This has not been a common practice for quality wines, but is becoming more common after the European Union relaxed appellation rules. The result is a delightful and refreshing pinot, with red berry fruit and a hint of tannins and oak. In one respect, it’s almost Beaujolais in style, but without the grapiness. What I liked best is that it tastes more or less like inexpensive Oregon pinot, when there was inexpensive Oregon pinot.

The Saget is light enough for summer and simple dinners anytime of year, but pinot enough to be enjoyable. Highly recommended, and I hope you can find it. There’s a retail location widget on the importer’s website, and that’s the first place to look.

Winebits 344: Wine crime and wine shipping


wine crime

And no, they aren’t related, thought they may often seem to be when you total the shipping charges.

If you can’t do the time…: Wine crime always makes the Wine Curmudgeon smile, reminding me of my newspaper days and a very wise Treasury agent. “If criminals could do something else, they would,” he used to say, pointing out that most of them weren’t smart enough to understand that their career didn’t have much of a future. Hence this story, about two Seattle men who stole $600,000 worth of wine but failed to disable all the shop’s security cameras during the theft. Employees then recognized one of the thieves, who had been a store customer, and arrests were made. Not very clever, as my friend would have said, but he also would have asked the thieves two questions: First, where where were they going to fence the wine. It’s not like hocking jewelry. Second, did they not think the cops would question the shop’s customers and ask for alibis? Which is why, he used to say, prisons are so crowded.

Everything you need to know: The Wine Spectator gets a lot of criticism here, but when it does something well, it deserves praise. Such was the recent post detailing wine shipping laws for every state — and it’s not even behind a pay wall. The good news is that 40 states will allow winery-to-consumer sales next year, up from 27 in 2005. The bad news is that just 14 states allow their residents to buy wine from out-of-state retailers, down from 18 in 2005.

Just a penny: Amazon Wine, whose presence in the wine direct shipping business has been surprisingly limited (the service still can’t ship to all 50 states — just 22), has been offering 1 cent shipping. Regular visitors here know that when Amazon Wine debuted almost two years ago, the first thing I asked was if it could make an impact with traditional wine shipping rates. Apparently not. And the 1-cent shipping doesn’t seem to be that big a deal, with a lot of one-offs, previous vintages, and overstocks on the site when I looked at it. Still, if you need a bottle of Pink Floyd wine (and if you do, I don’t need to know about it), it’s $16.99 for “plush structure and rounded tannins,” plus a penny shipping.

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