Category Archives: Wine news

The Comet Lovejoy wine phenomenon

comet lovejoy wine

But how do they get a bottling line up there?

Astronomers were surprised to find that some comets produce alcohol, as well as sugar, as they travel around the solar system “We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during its peak activity,” said Nicolas Biver of the Paris Observatory in France.

This is huge news, given that one theory supposes that comets crashing into the the Earth 3.8 billion years brought with them the carbon-based organic molecules, like alcohol and sugar, that may have jump-started life on our planet. Which is all well and good, but comet Lovejoy wine raises equally important questions for those of us who worry about those things:

• Do the comets know about the three-tier system? Lovejoy was producing the equivalent of 150,000 cases an hour, and we all know that the country’s distributors aren’t going to let that happen without them. They’ve paid entirely too much money to state legislators to let a comet ruin things. And I can only imagine the horror if Lovejoy passed anywhere near Pennsylvania, with its state store system.

• Will E&J Gallo, the Big Wine producer that has made hundreds of millions of dollars of acquisitions this year, buy the comet to add to its portfolio? A sweet Lovejoy red, since the comet threw off sugar, would slide in nicely next to Gallo brands like Apothic and Barefoot on grocery store shelves. And how could a back label that said “Comet Lovejoy wine — out of this world” miss?

• Can the Winestream Media adapt its tasting notes to comet-produced wine? Toasty and oaky, given how cold it is in space, just aren’t going to work. Maybe something like “hints of vacuum linger on the finish”? And how do you a score a comet wine? Does it get 92 points just because it’s from a comet? Or do you take points off for that, since outer space is not Napa Valley?

Photo courtesy of Adam Block Photos, using a Creative Commons license

Winebits 410: Judgment of Paris, wine education, wine production


judgement of parisOnly 40 years? The 40th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris, when California wines bested their French counterparts in a taste-off that established the former as world class, comes next year, and plans are being made to celebrate it (though, apparently, only in the U.S.). How about a congressional lunch next spring with wine from all 50 states, including two of the California wines that won? Or a vertical tasting with some of the winning wines. It’s almost impossible to underestimate how important the Judgment of Paris was in helping California wine take its place as some of the greatest in the world, and it’s no coincidence that so many of the French critics who took part still refuse to accept the results.

Not enough education: A Chilean wine expert who thought the world needed more wine education is surprised at how much he underestimated the market for his business. Raul Diaz told the drinks business trade magazine that “there is increasing demand for training that strikes a balance between being informative without being too intimidating or ‘know it all.’ ” Sound familiar? One of the moatr frustrating things about the wine business’ lack of interest in education is that not only ignore how much moe wine it would help them sell, but that they could make money with it. But, as I always note, I’m a lousy businessman.

Italy back on top: World wine production estimates for 2015 are in, and the Italians have regained their place as the top wine producing country in the world, replacing the Spanish, who were tops in 2014 after a record harvest. France was second and the U.S. fourth, as the experts think world production will increas two percent this year. That’s an impressive number given declining consumption in Europe, the drought in California, and financial woes in Australia.

Winebits 409: Grocery store wine edition


grocery store wineColorado wants grocery store wine: Which is not necessarily news. What’s different, though, is the latest campaign to change the state’s liquor laws to allow supermarkets to sell wine and beer. The arguments are much the same as elsewhere, in which liquor stores say they’ll face economic ruin if grocers sell beer and wine, and grocers talk about convenience and giving customers what they want. One difference, though: The pro-supermarket side has enlisted a former country sheriff on its side. That usually doesn’t happen, given that law enforcement is mostly on the anti-supermarket side.

Tennessee gets closer to grocery store wine: The Volunteer state, which approved supermarket wine sales to start next July, is already seeing grocers get ready for the change. Said a Kroger manager in Knoxville: “We just finished a center store reset where we were preparing to have wine in the stores and as you can see we have added shelving here for wine and we’ve added shelving here and we are going to have some refrigerated cases for wine as well.” Tennessee regulators expect 270 stores sell wine in 2016.

Aldi, Lidl gaining market share: Traditional British supermarkets continue to lose ground to discounters Aldi and Lidl, both of which are known for the quality of their cheap wine. Each company’s sales rose 18 percent in the 12 weeks through Oct. 11, while Tesco and the Walmart-owned Asda saw sales drop in the low single digits. Those of us who are leery of rising wine prices should know that both chains succeed by undercutting their larger competition, and that Aldi is about to move into California and Lidl will open its first U.S. stores on the east coast sometime in the next year.

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