Winebits 311: Direct shipping, wine snobs, wine trends
• Wine by mail: The U.S. Postal Service, which sees wine shipments as a key to its survival, is one step closer to putting wine in your mailbox. Influential U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) endorsed the idea recently, saying the proposal would allow the postal service to better compete against UPS and FedEx and add $225 million to its annual revenue. The Wine Curmudgeon has his doubts about whether the postal service can deliver wine effectively, given his past experiences with the agency and its failure to deliver his mail. Hence Schumer’s enthusiasm doesn’t do much for me. Plus, his estimate of $225 million in revenue is almost five times the original postal service estimate. But it looks like the agency will get the authority to deliver wine sometime next year.
• More than expensive wine: Charles Antin, a wine expert who has tasted most of the world’s great wines, has a confession: Expensive wine ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. “But just as I think that if you’re not drinking aged wine, you’re missing out, I think that if you’re only drinking collectible wine, you’re also missing out.” Or, as Antin notes elsewhere in the article, he was so busy chasing thousand dollar bottles of wine that he didn’t drink rose. And he was the worse for it. The piece, if a little jargony, is well worth reading, for it points out that wine is about more than what the wine snobs say it is. It’s also about sharing the joy of wine, and that it doesn’t matter how much the wine costs then.
• Slower economic growth? The wine industry is recovering from the recession, but not the way it wants to. That’s the consensus from a recent wine business seminar, as reported in the Press Democrat newspaper. Baby Boomers, who drove the explosive growth of the U.S. wine industry in the 1990s, are retiring and will be progressively less able to afford expensive wines, analysts said. Younger generations have other interests, including spirits, and the Millennials are often more burdened with debt than older demographic groups. The article, mostly an overview of what we’ve been writing about on the blog for the past several years, is notable because it quotes leading industry experts offering their wisdom. Which means there’s a chance the wine business might start paying attention.