Quantcast

Tag Archives: wine rants

Bacon, wine, and what we eat and drink

winerant
bacon causes cancer

Yes, this much bacon at one sitting will probably kill me. No, I don’t eat that much.

That World Health Organization doctors have found that bacon causes cancer should not be surprising. It’s no different than highway engineers announcing they need to tear down homes to wide a highway that we don’t want widened. It’s what they do, no matter how much we don’t like it, and it would be more strange if they said otherwise, be they doctors or highway engineers.

That’s because, like the various federal assaults on drinking, the news about processed meat is nothing more than physicians trying to keep us healthy. It’s what doctors do, and it’s important to remember that it’s what we want them to do. But since most of the easy health fixes are decades long past, like clean drinking water, the polio vaccine, and antibiotics, they’ve turned to lifestyle issues to save us from ourselves. How else, for those of us who live in western industrialized democracies and don’t smoke, are we going to live longer?

Which is the rub. I long ago gave up desserts, eat just two eggs a week, only have red meat four or five times a month, and plan meals around beans, rice, and leafy green vegetables. But my doctor, a smart and funny guy, always asks when I’m going to start eating better.

It’s also the irony. Most Americans, by several measures, are living healthier lives. We’ve gone a long way toward ending smoking, we have made significant progress in cutting refined sugar, and, compared to the rest of the world, we’re practically teetotalers when it comes to booze. And even those who aren’t probably know they shouldn’t eat bacon every morning for breakfast, with a BLT chaser at lunch. That they still do speaks to other societal problems that have nothing to do with health.

But, like the highway engineers who want to plow over a historic neighborhood to build an expressway that we don’t really need, that’s not enough for our doctors. They want to know when we’re going to start eating better. It’s up to us to remind them that many of us already are, and that — as Julia Child always said — everything in moderation. My doctor could do worse than listen to her advice.

Shortlisted for the Born Digital Wine awards

winerant

born digital wine awards iOct. 26, 2015 update: Congratulations to all the winners, which didn’t include me. But that doesn’t take away from the importance of rewarding work written exclusively for the Internet.


 

The Born Digital Wine awards, given to content created for the Internet, are a big deal. For one thing, there’s a cash prize, and that’s about as common as seeing a score on this website. For another, it speaks to the way wine writing is changing — and, oddly enough, how it hasn’t changed.

Which is not to say I’m complaining. That I’m shortlisted (or a finalist, as we say on this side of the Atlantic) in the best editorial/opinion category is a tremendous honor. And I do want to win, and not just for the €500 prize. The recognition would mean a lot, too, that what I do still means something after all these years. As a friend pointed out the other day, I’m one of the few serial wine bloggers left — someone who writes every day and does it himself, without any other writers on the site, no collaborators, no one to offer a different voice or change of pace. Just cranky me, even after almost eight years.

Most of the other successful sites have adapted as the world has changed, adding writers, selling merchandise, doing affiliate marketing, and so forth. Which I’ve thought about, but never seemed to be able to do. Some of it is my lack of business acumen (as well as the fact that the business stuff annoys me), and some of it is the idea that I brought with me from the newspaper business: As soon people give you money for placement, objectivity becomes that much more difficult. And objectivity is why I’m here.

In this, we’ve seen a gradual and significant shift to the Internet for wine criticism. Yes, the biggest Internet sites are the websites for the biggest wine magazines, but the number of legitimate voices that exist that no one would have known about in the old days is amazing — many of whom are shortlisted with me. I proposed a panel for this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference on just that topic, since it may be one of the most important things in wine writing since scores. 

Which never happened. The conference attendees, who vote on panel proposals, weren’t interested. Talk about irony. Even non-traditional wine writers, apparently, can’t see past traditional wine writing. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I won a Wine Bloggers award for best business blog, even though I write for consumers. My approach leaves many in wine scratching their heads. As one of the other shortlisted Born Digital wine writers, Blake Gray, has told me more than once, “You write for people who don’t drink wine.” And, as I have also been told, “Jeff, you write about wine, but you’re not a wine writer.”

At some point, we need to re-define wine writing so I’m not such an exception. How else will will we reach the women who buy Little Black Dress as a splurge because they see wine as too confusing to bother with the rest of the time? Or the men who are too terrified (and too manly to admit they’re terrified) to try something other than the same Big Wine cabernet sauvignon they’ve been drinking every week for the past 20 years?

So, yes, I want to win when the results are announced next week. But I also want to win because my shortlisted entry — how wine marketers, using the Downton Abbey claret as an example, confuse consumers to sell wine — offers more than traditional wine writing. And isn’t that the point of what the awards are about?

Wine Insiders wine club, and why more people don’t drink wine

winerant

wine insiders wine clubThe problem with the Wine Insiders wine club is not that the wine isn’t good, even though most of it isn’t. The problem is that the company behind the club doesn’t see wine quality as worth worrying about. Instead, its business plan is apparently based on the Holy Trinity of the wine business: fake pricing, hyperbole, and winespeak. Is it any wonder this makes wine companies lots of money but makes wine that much more difficult to enjoy, and especially for people who don’t know much about it?

I’m not the only one who figured this out; the Wine Dabbler took his anger a step further in a post entitled “The great Groupon wine rip-off:”

I received six different wines I had never heard of before, two bottles each. The wines we have tried so far are abysmal — and they all taste virtually the same! … I do not think that there are any violations of the law, but there are carefully planned and willfully executed violations of moral and ethical values.

As I wrote when I ordered, I got a red and white blend, plus a chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sauvignon blanc. The advertised price for the six wines was $14.99 each with a 40 percent discount. But these wines weren’t worth $14.99, or even 40 percent off $14.99. They’re mostly Two-buck Chuck quality, made from the bulk wine that comes from the grapes that grow in California’s Central Valley by a company that makes bulk wine for just such purposes. The white blend, in fact, tasted a lot like those 4-liter boxes of Franzia — sort of sweet and probably made with French colombard and chenin blanc.

I write “probably” because there wasn’t any information about the wines — no information sheets, and most of the wines didn’t even have a cutesy back label with winespeak. No doubt the company didn’t want to tell anyone what was actually going on. I did get a sheet offering to sell me six bottles of fruit-flavored moscato for $9 a bottle (I’d guess it costs much less than half of that to make) and a “stunning” French rose, also six bottles for $9.99. I’ll pass, thanks.

On the one hand, I’m not surprised this was such a depressing experience. I’ve been writing about wine for too long to expect otherwise. On the other hand, that it was so depressing makes it that much worse. Can’t the ordinary wine drinker ever win?

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: suv | Thanks to toyota suv, infiniti suv and lexus suv