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Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 376: Apothic, restaurant wine, wine consumption

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apothicA revolutionary product? Gallo’s Apothic, which revolutionized sweet red wine when it was introduced in 2007, may be doing it again. The company has released Apothic Crush, a slightly sweet red wine with 14.5 percent alcohol. In this, it appears to be the first sweet high alcohol wine that actually admits to being sweet and high in alcohol. For most of wine’s history, sweet table wines had less alcohol than dry wines not only because that’s how fermentation worked, but because no one thought consumers would drink a high alcohol sweet wine. But that has changed, first with the trend toward riper, more alcoholic wines, and second, with improvements in winemaking technology. In this, who knew Robert Parker, who has championed riper, higher alcohol wines, would pave the way for a Gallo product? Or, as the noted philosopher Mick Jagger has said more than once, “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometime you find/You get what you need.”

Less hope for wine lists? Is the end coming for the independent restaurant? That may be one of the conclusions from a recent study, which found that the number of independents fell by two percent in the U.S. in 2014, and that the number of full-service independents dropped three percent. Chains, meanwhile, continued to grow in the low single digits. Why does this matter to wine drinkers? Because those independents, and especially the full-serves, are the last best hope for improved restaurant wine lists. Chains usually don’t care about wine and make decisions in a corporate office based on price, which means they have the crummiest and most overpriced wine lists. Independents, for all their problems with wine, generally do a better job than chains. So any drop in the number of chains should be worrisome for wine drinkers who want choices that aren’t from Big Wine.

Beer, wine, or spirits? This chart, from Ghost in the Data, should answer all questions about whether the U.S. (or any other country in the world) is a wine drinking country. We’re not — it’s still beer. In fact, save for part of western Europe, the world is mostly indifferent to wine. This is something my colleagues in the Winestream Media should pay more attention to, instead of patting themselves on the back because we drink more wine than any other country in because we have more people than France and Italy.

Winecast 23: Lew Perdue, Wine Industry Insight

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Lew PerdueLew Perdue is a long-time wine marketer, wine writer, and wine entrepreneur, and he may be even crankier about the wine business than the Wine Curmudgeon. Or, as he recently wrote about a Kendall-Jackson wine: “At $21.50 retail it is a pale shadow of the Hogue at $13.50. … sour, bitter, thin, harsh.”

Which doesn’t mean his analysis isn’t spot on — the wine industry, which may actually want to make it easier for consumers to buy wine, doesn’t know how to do it. Perdue says he buys six wines at his local grocer for his reviews, and only three are usually worth drinking.

Fortunately, Perdue has several suggestions about what can be done, which we talk about on the podcast. Given that everyone tastes wine differently, he says, wouldn’t it make more sense to find a way for people to find wine recommendations from others with similar tastes, instead of from what he calls the wine elite, with their scores and jargon?

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 20 minutes long and takes up 10 megabytes. The sound quality is very good, and Skype — the unofficial VoIP provider for the blog — was in exceptionally fine form for the second consecutive podcast.

The Saveur Blog Awards

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Saveur blog awardsThe Wine Curmudgeon needs your help to win one of the Saveur Blog Awards.

I don’t like to ask this, given I’m a wine writer and not a yenta who nags my readers, and most of these awards require lots of nagging. But the Saveur blog awards are a big deal for what I do, perhaps second to the James Beard Awards in the food and wine business.  So winning Saveur’s best wine blog award would help advance the cause and show the Winestream Media that wine drinkers want more than scores and winespeak. They want wine writing they can understand and that helps them find wine that’s enjoyable and affordable.

Hence this post, and my request:

Go to the Saveur site and nominate the blog by clicking on this link. The number of nominations is one of the criteria used to pick the finalists. You can nominate the blog — winecurmudgeon.com — until March 13.

That’s our goal for the next 10 days, to get enough nominations so that the Saveur editors notice the blog and begin to understand there’s more going on than they can see from their Manhattan offices. We’ll worry about winning if and when the time comes.

 

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