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Why the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like the Super Bowl

The Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like the Super Bowl. This is not just because I was once a sportswriter and soon tired of sports’ hypocrisy, and especially the NFL’s obsession with money. And Read More »

winetrends

Could the Internet screw up direct shipping?

The perfect world of direct shipping — where we can buy any wine we want from any retailer we want, just like we buy computers or tennis shoes — will likely never Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: PradoRey Rueda 2013

There are a variety of reasons why Spanish wine isn’t more popular in the United States, but to put it most simply: The wines are made with grapes that most of us Read More »

winenews

Winebits 370: Wine writing ethics, Big Wine, beer sales

• Full disclosure: The Wine Curmudgeon stopped writing about wine writing a couple of years ago; it boosted the blog’s numbers, but didn’t advance the causes that the blog believes in, like Read More »

great quotes

Great quotes in wine history: Kojak

New York City police detective Theo Kojak is very excited — or at least as excited as he gets — about the 2015 $10 Wine Hall of Fame. A tip o’ the Read More »

Winebits 370: Wine writing ethics, Big Wine, beer sales

winenews

wine writing ethicsFull disclosure: The Wine Curmudgeon stopped writing about wine writing a couple of years ago; it boosted the blog’s numbers, but didn’t advance the causes that the blog believes in, like wine education. But this item, from Australian wine writer Max Allen, does matter for anyone who wants to be able to trust what they read: “When a wine writer threatens to sue another wine writer for telling the truth, you know things are getting serious. … Advertorial is masquerading as editorial. And our readers — the people we’re meant to be writing for — are in the dark about it all.” This is something that has been bothering me for several years, and I touched on it in last fall’s birthday week essay. So Allen’s post is worth writing about, given its honest discussion about what’s going wrong — writers taking money from wineries; conflicts of interest that no one talks about because they’d have to stop doing them; and how content has changed in the digital age from something independently written to something written so it will sell something paid. Any wine drinker who cares about getting an honest assessment for wine they’re paying for should read it.

Fewer mergers? One of my wine trends for 2015 was the continuation of something that started at least a decade ago — Big Wine getting bigger, buying up smaller companies. Turns out I may have been wrong, and not just about this year. A study at FoodBev.com reports that wine acquisitions worldwide were down by a quarter worldwide in 2014. Still, before the mea culpas, it’s worth noting that wine tied for sixth on the list of food and drinks deals in 2014, an impressive showing given its smaller size relative to the rest of the food and drinks business, like packaging, soft drinks, and dairy.

No end to the slide: The beer business continues to slowly erode, which I cover on the blog because it ties into American drinking habits. SABMiller, one of the two companies that controls most of the world’s beer production, saw its North American sales decline two percent in the nine months ending in December. Which means the holiday season didn’t rescue the company. This is part of a long-term tend that has seen beer sales slowly decline since the beginning of the recession, as Americans shift away from beer, which has dominated alcohol sales in the U.S. for decades. So we shouldn’t be surprised by the growth in wine sales.

Great quotes in wine history: Kojak

great quotes

New York City police detective Theo Kojak is very excited — or at least as excited as he gets — about the 2015 $10 Wine Hall of Fame.

A tip o’ the Wine Curmudgeon’s fedora to the Dedoimedo website; this post is based on his “My reaction to — ” series. The video is courtesy of davedacunt via YouTube.

Ernie Banks, 1931-2015

ernie banks

ernie banksNot that long ago, I was talking to a baseball fan who didn’t understand why New York Yankees fans were so cranky. “Their best player can make an error in the first inning, and they’ll start booing and won’t let up,” he said. “They take all of the fun out of the game.”

“That’s because Yankees fans are used to players like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter,” I told him. “When you’ve watched them, it’s hard to give anyone else the benefit of the doubt.”

I mention this on the death of perhaps the greatest Chicago Cubs player ever, Ernie Banks. The Cubs, for most of my lifetime, have not had players like Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Jeter. They have had Joe Wallis and Carmen Fanzone and Dick Nen. But as long as the Cubs had Ernie, that always seemed to be enough.

Banks’ death is about more than baseball and being a Cubs’ fan, and it’s about more than the part he played for those of us who came of age with the Cubs in the 1960s. It’s about what baseball says about our lives; as George Carlin wrote: “Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.”

Banks was a Hall of Fame ballplayer, one of the greatest shortstops in the history of the game. But what he will be remembered for, and what his New York Times obituary did not fail to mention, was the record he holds for most games played without ever making the playoffs, 2,528. It’s a most Cubs-like record, befitting the franchise’s reputation for futility.

But it reminds us that life is not about winning. We can’t all be the Yankees. Life is about getting up every morning and doing the best you can, because otherwise, what’s the point? It’s about understanding that you’re lucky enough to do something that you love, and that doing anything other than the best you can would be wrong. You can’t hit a home run every day, but you can try. And that’s enough.

Todd Hollandsworth, who played a couple of seasons for the Cubs at the beginning of the last decade (and yet another of those players who weren’t Babe Ruth) told the Chicago Sun-Times that Banks “taught me to let the game go and start over the next day. Each day was unto itself. `You can’t change yesterday,’ he told me. I don’t think I could fully understand what he was teaching me at the time. Still haven’t.”

There is no better epitaph than that.

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