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Tag Archives: wine news

Winebits 344: Wine crime and wine shipping

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wine crime

And no, they aren’t related, thought they may often seem to be when you total the shipping charges.

If you can’t do the time…: Wine crime always makes the Wine Curmudgeon smile, reminding me of my newspaper days and a very wise Treasury agent. “If criminals could do something else, they would,” he used to say, pointing out that most of them weren’t smart enough to understand that their career didn’t have much of a future. Hence this story, about two Seattle men who stole $600,000 worth of wine but failed to disable all the shop’s security cameras during the theft. Employees then recognized one of the thieves, who had been a store customer, and arrests were made. Not very clever, as my friend would have said, but he also would have asked the thieves two questions: First, where where were they going to fence the wine. It’s not like hocking jewelry. Second, did they not think the cops would question the shop’s customers and ask for alibis? Which is why, he used to say, prisons are so crowded.

Everything you need to know: The Wine Spectator gets a lot of criticism here, but when it does something well, it deserves praise. Such was the recent post detailing wine shipping laws for every state — and it’s not even behind a pay wall. The good news is that 40 states will allow winery-to-consumer sales next year, up from 27 in 2005. The bad news is that just 14 states allow their residents to buy wine from out-of-state retailers, down from 18 in 2005.

Just a penny: Amazon Wine, whose presence in the wine direct shipping business has been surprisingly limited (the service still can’t ship to all 50 states — just 22), has been offering 1 cent shipping. Regular visitors here know that when Amazon Wine debuted almost two years ago, the first thing I asked was if it could make an impact with traditional wine shipping rates. Apparently not. And the 1-cent shipping doesn’t seem to be that big a deal, with a lot of one-offs, previous vintages, and overstocks on the site when I looked at it. Still, if you need a bottle of Pink Floyd wine (and if you do, I don’t need to know about it), it’s $16.99 for “plush structure and rounded tannins,” plus a penny shipping.

Winebits 343: Dave McIntyre, wine scores, and wine in the movies

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Dave McIntyre

That’s Dave in the middle, and he should be smiling.

More than well deserved: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would know someone who had won the same award as a Mondavi? Or the legendary Konstantin Frank, without whom U.S. regional wine would not have been possible? But that’s my pal Dave McIntyre, who was given the Monteith Trophy over the weekend for his work as a wine writer. Dave has done much for the cause of wine, including co-founding Drink Local Wine with me when people thought we were crazy. So it’s more than time that the wine world recognized the effort Dave has made, not only for regional wine, but for wine drinkers everywhere. Dave will be in Dallas in a couple of weeks, and I have laid in some Texas wine that we will celebrate with. Congratulations, my friend. But couldn’t you have worn a tie for a big deal like this?

End the tyranny: Or so says Michael Woodsmall at the Grape Collective, calling for an end to the 100-point scoring system. “It should be duly noted that these scales don’t take actual wine’s nuanced characteristics into account; they merely assigned values to general traits. … Also, it is no longer the seventies and eighties.”  This sentiment is something the Wine Curmudgeon has long advocated, and Woodsmall makes an intelligent argument for the end of scores, even throwing in a little political theory to explain why the debate generates such controversy. This is a revolution, and the scoreists will defend the ancien regime until the bitter end.

Hollywood and wine: The Wine Curmudgeon, in discussing U.S. wine culture in the cheap wine book, talked about Hollywood’s complete indifference to wine for most of the 20th century, and how this indifference reflected American views of wine. So I was more than pleased to see an academic study of the subject, supporting my views. Raphael Schirmer of the University of Bordeaux, writing for the American Association of Wine Economists, has found that as wine has become more popular in the U.S., so has wine become more popular in film. This is not just about Francis Ford Coppola owning a major wine company or movies like “Sideways;” rather, it’s the idea that we drink wine as part of our everyday lives, and the movies that are made reflect this.

Winebits 342: High alcohol, wine real estate, and the norton grape

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high alcohol wineNo more high alcohol, please: The British government, searching for some way to curb the country’s binge drinking problem, wants to limit the alcohol content of the house wine sold in pubs and restaurants to 12 1/2 percent. This is stunning news, even to the Wine Curmudgeon, who thinks lower alcohol is almost always better than higher. Somehow, I don’t think — regardless of any Neo-Prohibitionist developments here — that alcohol limits will ever happen in the U.S.

• More money than they know what to do with: The recession in the high-end part of the wine business is over, if people with more money than everyone else are any indication. The Grape Collective reports that “lifestyle” buyers, who don’t necessarily want to make wine or grow grapes but who think it’s tres chic to own a piece of wine country, are back in the market. Says one analyst: “Lifestyle buyers want a gorgeous house with a vineyard view, and then possibly a small source of income. They’ll generally take their grapes to a custom crush house and either sell or simply give away as business gifts.” The middle six figures will get you something in Tuscany, and Napa is actually a little less expensive. Maybe it’s time for the Wine Curmudgeon to call his Realtor.

You can’t beat the norton: Vinepar takes a look at the norton grape, long one of my favorites and too often overlooked in the U.S. The piece is a solid introduction to the grape, which thrived in this country at the turn of the 20th century and still makes delicious red wine. The best look at the norton? In Todd Kliman’s fascinating book, “The Wild Vine.” Or, as I wrote when I reviewed it, “Kliman offers some much-needed insight into the history of American wine. It’s a perspective that says, ‘Look, pay attention. Long before Robert Parker and scores and California, there was a U.S. wine industry. And if a few things had happened differently. …’ “

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