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Tag Archives: birthday week

Tuesday Birthday Week 2013 giveaway: The “American Wine” book

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111913And the winner is: Marty, who selected 840; the winning number was 910 (screenshot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated, especially given how flaky the website was acting. Tomorrow’s prize is a $50 gift card from Wine.com, which offers free shipping with the Steward-Ship program and its free, one-month trial.

Today, to celebrate the blog’s sixth anniversary, we’re giving away the definitive book about American wine, “American Wine,” written by my pal Linda Muprhy and Jancis Robinson, courtesy of the University of California Press. It’s the second of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Briefly, pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of the prize post. Only one entry per person, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, your entry doesn’t count. Please be careful here — we got a half-dozen or so incorrect entries yesterday, and I had to throw them out.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you have to come to the website, winecurmudgeon.com and to this post, to enter. I’ve extended the deadline until 9 p.m. central today, because the website’s server has been balky all day, limiting access to the site. I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the book.

Monday Birthday Week 2013 giveaway: Riedel Swirl + Gift set

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11182013And the winner is: Joyce DeBlieck, who selected 910; the winning number was 920 (screenshot to the right). Hers was the final entry of the day. Thanks to everyone who participated. Tomorrow’s prize is the definitive book about American wine, “American Wine,” written by my pal Linda Murphy and Jancis Robinson, courtesy of the University of California Press.

Today, to celebrate, the blog’s sixth anniversary, we’re giving away a Riedel Swirl + Gift set, with four red wine glasses and a decanter, courtesy of Banfi Vintners. It’s the first of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Briefly, pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of the prize post. One entry per person, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, your entry doesn’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you have to come to the website, winecurmudgeon.com and to this post, to enter. At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the Riedel set.

The opportunity cost of wine, and why consumers don’t want to pay it

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thorntonIn other words, why most of us don’t learn more about wine — because it’s too much trouble, even if doing so would help us buy better wine for less money.

That’s one of the key points in an intriguing new book by an Eastern Michigan economist, James Thornton, called “American Wine Economics: An Exploration of the U.S. Wine Industry.” The book looks at the economic side of the wine business — something that’s rarely seen given the Winestream Media’s emphasis on toasty and oaky.

“I didn’t really see any systematic examination of wine the way an economist would do it,” says Thornton, who started his academic career studying the economics of medical care. “So, as I was becoming interested in wine, it became a fascinating field of study.”

Hence opportunity cost. Everyone understands the money cost of a good or service, but economists argue that’s not the only cost that determines whether we buy something. There is also opportunity cost — how much it costs us in time, aggravation, and the like, to make a purchase.

In wine, that means not just what we pay for a bottle, but also how much time we want to invest so we can learn more and make better decisions about what we buy. It’s something that happens all the time in other areas, like buying a car. Almost everyone does some research, whether it’s clicking an Internet link or asking a friend about a certain model or a local dealership. And everyone test drives cars, which is about as aggravating and time consuming an experience as possible.

In this, it’s part of what Thornton describes as the theory of rational consumer behavior, which says we want to make the best possible decision. Except when it comes to wine.

“I’d have to speculate here, because I don’t know that there are any studies on this,” says Thornton, a beer drinker who married a wine drinker and came over from the dark side. “But it’s sort of intimidating. You hear all that garbage growing up, that it’s a mortal sin to drink sweet wine, or that you can only have certain wines with friends. And you don’t want to learn, because it is so intimidating. So everyone believes you have to be either an idiot or Robert Parker.”

In other words, academic support for something the Wine Curmudgeon has argued for as long as I have been arguing: The wine business, given the constitutionally protected three-tier distribution system and aided by its allies in the Winestream Media, has no incentive to lower the opportunity cost for wine. The money comes in anyway. Hence wine labels that don’t inform, wine education that is almost non-existent, winespeak, and even scores. And it’s why people buy crappy cheap wine and don’t care, because the opportunity cost is probably higher than the money cost.

The good news, says Thornton, is that the Internet is reducing the opportunity cost of wine. It’s easier than ever to find reviews, ratings, and information about wine, and especially from a crowd-sourced site like CellarTracker. Over time, that should make it easier for consumers to pay opportunity costs, and should help all of us drink better wine.

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