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Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 360: Birthday week edition

Birthday candles

Birthday weekA few notes after the past year of blog posts about cheap wine, wine education, and the wine business:

 • Operating system wars: Microsoft controls about 90 percent of the world’s computer operating system market with its various Windows products, but not on the blog. Just 52 percent of visitors over the past year used a Windows operating system to get here, and almost one-third of those had Windows XP installed — which died in April. Still, Windows was the most popular operating system, with Apple’s mobile iOS and desktop Macintosh tied for second at 16 percent. My beloved Linux was at 1.3 percent, good for seventh (and I think I know the other person who uses Linux to get here).

Picking a browser: Another surprise, given that the world’s most used browser is one of Microsoft’s Internet Explorers (warts and all) at about 55 percent of the world market. On the blog, though, Apple’s Safari (warts and all), is the top browser with 29 percent, with Explorer at 24 percent. Chrome and Firefox, the geek browsers of choice, were tied at around 19 percent.

Expensive wine: The best-read expensive wine post over the last year was for a Virginia wine, the Barboursville Octagon, which ran in August 2013. It was No. 115. In one respect, this isn’t surprising, since the blog isn’t about expensive wine. But that it did better than host of cheap wine posts, including the recent discussion about Spanish wine value, speaks to how popular Barboursville is in the world of regional wine.

Winebits 359: Nutrition and ingredient labels edition

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wine nutrition labelsBecause the controversy about soup-style wine nutrition labels is not going away.

What do consumers want? As much information as possible, reported the British wine magazine Decanter, citing a study that says two-thirds of UK adults “actively support” calorie labeling on alcoholic drinks. Not surprising: That four out of five people surveyed couldn’t accurately estimate the calories in a large glass of wine. The study “shows there is now a clear public appetite for this information to be extended to alcohol to help individuals make informed choices,” said the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which paid for it. Sainsbury’s, one of the country’s biggest supermarket chains, said it would put calorie counts on all of its private label alcohol within two years (pictured above).

Let’s not go too far: That’s the opinion of Mike Steinberger, one of the best wine writers working today. “But allow me a moment of devil’s advocacy; while full disclosure on labels (or as much disclosure as a standard wine label will permit) is a laudable goal, there are a few sticking points worth acknowledging. To begin with, the comparison with food is misguided. Unlike food, wine is not necessary for sustenance (it only seems that way), so the need-to-know argument does not carry nearly the same weight.” The longish piece is worth reading, though I don’t necessarily agree with all his points. I think Steinberger overlooks the 20-somethings who are the next generation of wine drinkers, and that labels could change the way they buy wine.

Yes, absolutely:  That’s the opinion of Alice Feiring, perhaps the leading natural wine advocate in the U.S. “For a long time I’ve been in favor of less government in wine instead of more, but in this instance I have to fess up that with so many additives allowed in wine, an ingredient label is best. If there’s an ingredient list for soda, there needs to be one for wine. If you are warned about an orange juice from concentrate, the same should be true for wine that has been reverse osmosed/concentrated.”

More about wine nutrition labels:
Update: Nutrition and ingredient labels for wine
Misconceptions about wine ingredient labels
Diet wine, and why we’re stuck with it

Winebits 358: Goverment regulation edition

winenews

government regulationSomeone has to keep an eye on this government regulation foolishness, because it really is getting out of hand — something to remember on election day.:

When is whiskey not really whiskey? When you’re in Tennessee, where the state legislature apparently has better things to do than worry about education, taxes, highways, and the rest of government. Instead, it will debate the definition of Tennessee whiskey,  Diageo, which owns George Dickel, and Brown-Forman, which owns Jack Daniels, are two of the biggest booze companies in the world. They’ve talked the legislature (no doubt using campaign cash) into setting limits on what Tennessee whiskey can be, and the current definition favors Brown-Forman. Not surprisingly, Diageo is aghast, and wants changes. It’s enough to make the Wine Curmudgeon boycott both brands, and I like Tennessee whiskey. I wonder: Will anyone in the legislature have the courage to stand up and tell both companies to go away and let the lawmakers worry about important stuff?

Yes, we sell sell beer (but not really): U.S. politicians and bureaucrats aren’t the only ones who are obsessed with this stuff; even the normally mild-mannered Canadians lose control. How else to explain this, from an advisory committee in the province of Ontario which says the province should not privatize its government-owned liquor stores — just change the way it sells beer. Consumers will be allowed to buy 12-packs in addition to six-packs. Be still, my beating heart. And, believe it or not, the same committee is debating electricity deregulation in the same mandate from the provincial government. How anyone thinks booze and power are alike in any way, and that the same decisions apply, is mind boggling. Unless, of course, you don’t want to deregulate liquor sales to begin with.

Ensuring a fair marketplace or hurting consumers? The New York State Liquor Authority has imposed more than $3 million in fines on distributors and retailers in the past three years in an attempt to eliminate sweetheart deals that allow some stores to get better treatment than others. This isn’t unusual in other businesses, where the best customers get the best deals, but it’s not supposed to happen in three-tier, which governs alcohol sales in the U.S. Three-tier says everyone has the same opportunity to buy the same products, regardless of size. Many retailers and distributors are furious about the fines and new rules, which strikes me as ironic — three-tier is protecting them from even more intense competition.

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