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Category Archives: Wine trends

Wine is apparently causing our political gridlock

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drunken politicianWonder why government doesn’t seem to work anymore? The Wine Curmudgeon, after poring through hundreds of news stories (and yes, that pun is fully intended), has discovered the answer: Our leaders are drunk, often from wine — call it the drunken politician conspiracy theory. Where’s

The latest development comes from Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta. The mayor told a city council meeting: “I have received multiple complaints about council members getting blotto at community events,” and that he has received reports of his peers being “totally drunk” on wine.

Frankly, if this happens in Canada — where politics is much more convivial than it is in the U.S., and where we know they drink beer — then we’re on to something. And this is not an isolated incident. It seems to be going on everywhere and at all levels of government:

The California state senator who told state police he only had three glasses of wine when they pulled him over for drunk driving.

• A Google search for “Congressman drunk driving” turns up a quarter-million results, questioning the sobriety of everyone from house speakers to U.S. senators, and from every party imaginable. Imagine if I had used Congresspeople.

• A Memphis city councilwoman, who may have been drunk at a council meeting.

In fact, once I discovered this pattern, the CDC’s anti-drinking crusade made perfect sense. The federal health cops are trying to save the government from itself; how else can it assure its funding unless someone is sober enough to vote?

And scores now make sense in a way they never have before. If you’re getting loaded, what’s the easiest way to figure out what to drink? Check the score. Who wants to get trashed on a 73-point wine?

Wine of the week: Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010

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Torbreck Woodcutter'sThe Torbreck Woodcutter’s ($15, purchased, 14%) is more than just a steal at this price. It’s an example of how wine ages, and why you should sometimes buy a wine to age, even if you think aging is too wine geeky for you.

I first tasted this Australian white, made with semillon, two years ago, part of a group of samples. I liked it, but it wasn’t anything special, according to my notes: “Intriguing wine that had some richness not unlike chardonnay, but without any chardonnay fruit. Just some pepper and a little apricot or peach.”

Last month, when I needed a bottle to pair with pork shoulder braised with Mediterranean spices and chickpeas, what did my pal James McFadyen recommend? The Torbreck Woodcutter’s, and he couldn’t have been more spot on. The difference, as the wine become more complex from aging, was impressive.

The fruit had evolved into an almost honeyed apricot, close to the fig that you’ll find in the textbook definition of semillon. “Some richness” had turned into a rich and full mouth feel, and it didn’t taste like chardonnay at all. Through all of this, the Torbreck Woodcutter’s was bone dry, and with an almost chalky finish. I couldn’t believe the transformation, and the wine was delicious.

Highly recommended, and another reason why wine is about trying as many different kinds as possible. Otherwise, you’ll miss a treat like this.

Wine reviews still matter

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wine reviews

The conventional wisdom in the wine business over the past decade that wine reviews — unless you’re the Winestream Media, writing for an audience that desperately needs to know that its $28 wine got 93 points — are becoming irrelevant. I’ve written this, and I mostly believe it. For example, the majority of the reviews on the blog are among the least read.

The irrelevancy of review comes from new technology, whether Facebook, texting, phone wine apps, or CellarTracker, that gives wine drinkers the ability to recommend wine to their friends and read their friends’ recommendations without the need for a traditional wine reviewer.

So imagine my surprise when the new Wine Market Council study, detailing the behavior of U.S. wine drinkers, found that reviews still matter.

“I think it is to be expected that people who have not been around wine for years and years are a bit more interested in reading about wine and getting input from knowledgeable sources,” says John Gillespie, the council’s president. And he has some intriguing numbers to back that up.

More than half of Millennials and almost half of Gen Xers who drink wine frequently said reviews were extremely or very important in deciding what to buy. This is twice the number of Baby Boomers who said they valued reviews, and three times the number of the oldest group surveyed, born before World War II.

If that still doesn’t seem a lot, consider this: I located two surveys about film criticism that showed much lower numbers — six percent in a poll on ComicBookMovie.com said reviews were important, and a survey of Indian audiences in 2011 found that just 17 percent said the star rating was important. Yes, these aren’t exactly comparable to the Wine Market Council results, but it’s close enough to make me think wine reviews are still relevant.

The one thing not surprising about reviews in the Wine Market Council survey? The Winestream Media’s grip on its captive audience. Two-thirds of high-end wine buyers who drink wine frequently rated reviews extremely or very important. Which is why they’ll always be a Wine Spectator.

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