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Tag Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

Shark Tank wine

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Shark Tank wineDear Shark Tank Masters of the Universe:

The Wine Curmudgeon does not pretend to be a financial genius; witness my inability to make any money off the blog. But your recent foray into the wine business — Zipz single-serving wine and Beatbox flavored wine — is about something I know. For smart guys, you’re doing dumb things with your money.

Know just two things about the wine business, which should put these investments in perspective:

First, that three-quarters of all wine sold in the U.S. is traditional wine that comes in a 750-milliliter bottle, just as it has been for decades. There is no evidence that that Americans are clamoring for single-serving wine or flavored wine sold in a box, no matter how cool each product may be. If you doubt that, wait in line (or have a minion do it for you) at a World Market, where the single-serving bottles are lined up for impulse purchases. Count how many people buy them. Yes, not all that many.

Second, that wine is not sold like other consumer goods, but through the three-tier system. This means that your entrepreneurs can’t sell their product to a retailer like Costco. The law in all 50 states requires them to hire a distributor to sell their product to the retailer. If they can’t find a distributor, and distributors are notoriously picky about what they represent, then it will never be sold in a store. I should also mention, thanks to three-tier, that it would be even more difficult to sell Zipz (which isn’t all that tasty) and Beatbox in Pennsylvania and New York, two of the largest wine markets in the country. The former doesn’t have any independent wine retailers, and the latter doesn’t allow wine sales in grocery stores.

I hope this helps the next time someone pitches a Shark Tank wine deal. And no need to thank me — it’s enough to know that I’m helping incredibly rich people not waste their money.

Sincerely,
The Wine Curmudgeon

Why the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like the Super Bowl

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Am I the only one who thinks this pairing looks silly?

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 more money. And even more money.

Or that, living in Dallas, more people attend Cowboys games than usually vote in mayoral elections. Which always seems to annoy them when I bring it up.

Or that I get pathetic pitches from hard-up marketing and public relations types, desperate to turn the Super Bowl into a wine event. This week, someone wanted me to write about the Sea Hawks, which is an Errol Flynn movie and not a football team. The Super Bowl is a beer event. And a pizza event. But it’s as much about wine as St. Patrick’s Day is, and who ever heard of green-colored wine?

But mostly I don’t like the Super Bowl because no one reads the blog over Super Bowl weekend. I get more visitors on Christmas Day than I do during the Super Bowl, which shocked me the first time it happened and still makes me pause. What this says about the United States in the 21st century is something that I will leave to others more versed in the study of that sort of thing.

So enjoy the Super Bowl, and I’ll see you next week. I will spend Sunday messing around the house — maybe baking some bread, trying to get a few posts ahead on the blog, or working on my notes for my next wine class at El Centro. But I won’t watch the game, which I haven’t done since 1986. And somehow, my life has gone on.

Joe Maddon, expensive wine, and the Chicago Cubs

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joe maddon wineDear Joe:

You and I have much in common — you’re the new manager of the Chicago Cubs, and I am a long-suffering Cubs fan who once waited more than an hour to get Kenny Holtzman’s autograph. In the finest Cubs tradition, Holtzman never showed up.

Apparently, we also share wine in common, though what you drink is about as far removed from what I drink as the Cubs are from a successful baseball team. You are, by all accounts, a wine geek of the first order, whose taste runs to Opus One, Insignia, and hot, heavy, oaky California pinot noirs. (Unfortunately, my request to ask you about wine apparently disappeared into the cyber-ether; I never heard back from the Cubs.)

Frankly, your preference for these kinds of wines worries me. This is the Cubs you’re managing, a team that has not won the World Series since 1908, and not the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs have had more players like Larry Biittner and Glen Hobbie than Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax, and Opus One is a lot more like Ruth than it is Biittner.

Besides, we’re more comfortable with players like Biittner, who was a mainstay on the woebegone Cubs teams of the late 1970s when I was in college and would sit in the right field bleachers and offer the players various words of encouragement. Who can forget the 1977 game when Biittner, an outfielder, pitched 1 1/3 innings and the Cubs lost 19-3 — and, in the finest Cubs tradition, was fined for throwing at a batter.

In this, the Cubs are more Bogle than Insignia, more cava than Champagne. And that’s a more practical approach anyway. What are you going to do after a tough late-night loss to the hated Brewers in Milwaukee when you want a glass of wine and you won’t be able to find a bottle of $50 Napa meritage? On the other hand, almost any Roundy’s supermarket that’s still open will have more than one wine from this year’s $10 Hall of Fame.

Which is not to say I wouldn’t mind sharing a bottle of white Burgundy with you, particularly if you do the impossible and help the Cubs win something after more than a century of losing. I’d even pay for it — a 2010 Corton from Sylvain Loichet, perhaps? That I’m willing to pay for it should tell you how long suffering a Cubs fan I am.

Until then, try the Little James Basket Press wines. I’m sure Binny’s has them, and will get them for you if they don’t.

Yours in 107 years of Cubs futility,
The Wine Curmudgeon

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