Archive for the ‘Wine Industry’ Category

Wine Shipping – Massachusetts & Michigan

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Direct shipments of wines, that is wine sent directly to consumers homes, is said to account for somewhere in the range of 5% of all wine sales.  This past week two states that have been heavily involved in the outstanding issue of wine shipping seemed to have arrived at (or neared) a resolution.

Michigan was trying to favor its own in-state retailers by allowing consumers to receive shipments of wine from Michigan retailers but prohibiting out of state retailers from shipping wine to Michigan residents.  Courts ruled this to be in violation of Federal trade laws and Michigan was forced to respond.  Rather than allowing all retailers to ship wine to Michigan residents, MI instead decided that NO RETAILER, out of state OR in state would be permitted to ship wine to (or within) Michigan.  Sorry Michigan residents.

Then there is Massachusetts, a state that clearly aimed to favor its own wineries and leave out wineries from other states.   MASS instituted a law whereby only wineries that produce under a certain amount of wine can ship their wines to consumers in MASS.  (Remember that we are now talking about WINERIES & not wine retailers.)  This law was instituted to virtually eliminate all the larger wineries located in States such as California, Oregon and Washington (to name a few), while allowing most of its own states’ wineries to continue shipping to MASS residents.    A US district court judge ruled that volume caps were discriminatory.  the likely result being that ALL WINERIES, regardless of size, will be able to ship to MASS residents.  NOTE: this ruling ONLY applies to wineries and does not permit for retailers to ship wine to MASS residents.

Some interesting stuff (in my very humble opinion) giving some indications as to the direction of wine shipping within the US.

Happy LOCAL WINE SHOP wine tasting!


Wines of the (economic) times

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Everyone in the world, particularly those of us in the US, are feeling the pinch of the challenging economic environment.  Government stimulus packages, collapsing banks, record numbers of newly unemployed – those luxuries we may have been splurging on a year or two ago are possibly absent from our regular shopping lists these days.  Where does wine fit in?  Can you still justify opening up a $20 (or more expensive) bottle of wine with dinner?  That is a lot to spend on an unessential (some might beg to differ) dinner item on just any day of the week.

wine glass money

There has been a lot written recently about food and wine in challenging times.

Eric Asimov wrote an article for the NY Times “Modest Luxuries For Lean Times”.  I was not familiar with most of the wines he wrote about, but I do agree that one can find some great buys between $10-$20 (while spending less than $10 is generally a gamble in terms of the quality).

There was an article over the weekend discussing New Yorkers inclination to turn to comfort foods.  Apparently New Yorkers are frequenting the fancy obscure restaurants less and opting for more affordable and familiar cuisine – such as a burger and mashed potatoes.  A burger shop manager was quoted, saying “people are looking for nostalgic, homemade food at a reasonable price”.

But I digress.  We are talking about wine.

Mike Steinberger, writing for Slate Mag “Drinking Away Your Sorrows –  How Has the Financial Crisis Affected The Wine World?”, discusses the issue at length.  Steinberger mentions recent auction success and stable wine prices as evidence that wine has not been affected.  He then cites a UNC-Greensboro economist who claims that “when the economy weakens, alcohol sales fall”.  And while he proceeds to repeat a theory I have heard before, that people drink less OUT, but still purchase alcohol to take home to drink, he then states that wine is not affected nearly as much as beer and spirits, citing evidence from Neilson garnered via bars, clubs & restaurants.  Finally, he quotes a retailer who says that “Instead of buying a $40 bottle, maybe they’ll go for a $25 bottle now, but they want wine on the table.”

As I hustle throughout the streets of NY I have seen this all first hand.  Wine Bars aren’t as busy.  Commercial spaces are staying vacant (a lot) longer.  Restaurants are closing at a faster pace and opening at a slower pace.  And retailers, looking to provide their customers with what they are seeking, seem to be looking for more wines that retail in the $20 & less category.

These are all things I will keep in mind as I move forward with my Israeli wine project plans.  And while I definitely have good reason to be cautious, spending as much time as I do at wine bars, wine tastings and wine retailers has given me a good feel for the market.  It is an ever changing market that I must stay on top of, but I believe in the journey and while that light (at the end of the tunnel) is hard to see, I know it is there…

Happy conscientious Wine Tasting!


power of suggestion – real or not & wine?

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I poured wine at a retailer tonight.  I generally try to stop from voicing my opinion about any wines I am pouring, but I often do find myself say things such as “its a real nice wine”.  Having done as many of these tasting as I have I find the two opposite effects this leads to as quite interesting.

Often, the power of suggestion is apparently quite powerful and people agree that the wine is one way or another, depending upon what I imply.

BUT, almost as often I get people telling me that they do not agree with my take and tell me how they feel differently about the same wine.

damn red

I must admit that it is validating to have people agree with one’s opinion.  Yet I am a big believer that we all have a unique palate, and I TRULY do welcome people disagreeing with my assessment.

What I have trouble understanding are either those who refuse to taste, feeling they are being “sold” or “coerced”.  Or those who seem to disagree & demean a wine simply as a means of expressing their contrarian view or individuality.

If I have learned anything in the wine industry it is that we must possess a thick skin.  Not everyone is going to agree & some might not even disagree politely.  But it ain’t personal!

On a completely separate note, it appears more and more likely that is entering the online wine sales world.  I keep seeing comments about the impending entree of Amazon into the wine business, but I’m not sure I know what the impact will be.  Will they have low prices?  Will they do things legally (and more expensively) like  Is it their infrastructure (shipping centers) that is going to allow them to ship wine to most of the 50 states and keep costs down?  Will this perpetuate the debate over wine shipping and its surrounding issues?  Will the supreme court be involved??  More to come on this topic I’m sure…

Happy wine tasting!


Less beer & more wine!

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Following up with the theme of increased wine consumption, here is a piece indicating that Americans are drinking more beer and less wine. 

Americans are drinking less alcohol, particularly beer, according to a study published in the August edition of The American Journal of Medicine.

beer or wine

Interestingly enough, I had been under the impression that alcohol consumption does not decrease during troubling economic times.   People drink the same amount.  They just purchase it differently.  Instead of drinking at bars and restaurants, they but their wine (or whatever) at shops and take it home.

But most importantly, “ Americans are drinking significantly less beer and more wine, while hard liquor use has remained fairly constant.

Happy WINE tasting!

Camping, Le Rendezvous Wine bar & wine consumption

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

My sincerest apologies for the lag in posts the past few days.  Things have been hectic yet fabulous.  I returned today from a wonderful yet too short weekend camping trip.  There were 8 of us on the trip and it was loads of fun.  BBQ-ing, fireworks, fishing, tubing & BIG CAMP FIRES.  Ahhh…so much fun.  I brought a bunch of wine and someone questioned whether wine was camping appropriate.  I thought it was perfect actually.  While chillin’ in a chair & fishing on the Delaware river I preferred a cold beer.  But a bottle of rose in the early evening and a cup (no glasses at the campgrounds – oh well) of red at night with a burger by the campfire – SOOOO GOOOOOD!


Quickly want to thank everyone who made it out to Le Rendezvous wine bar last Thursday night.   The turnout was great and all who made it were treated to a spectacular night (if I do say so myself).  I was able to seat almost all the guests and like a good party host I mingled with everyone while constantly filling up their glasses with fabulous wines from Yarden & Galil Mountain.  I got lots of people nice and buzzed, but more importantly the guests and wine bar staff (and owner) loved the wines and really enjoyed the evening and ambiance at the fabulous Le Rendezvous wine bar.

Finally want to share an interesting little tidbit with you.  The Beverage Information group recently released their 2008 wine handbook and announced that wine consumption in 2008 once again rose – by 3.2%.  Doesn’t sound like a lot but it marks the 14th consecutive year of “case gains”.  The full PR Newswire release can be found here.

Happy Campfire Israel Wine Tasting!


Less know wine region(s) in the news

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Yes, I have been tempted to write about Israeli wines a lot lately given the fabulous press they have been getting with recent articles in Wine Spectator (online version only available to subscribers) & The San Fransisco Chronicle (found online at the SF Gate).

But any post about Israeli wines will be elaborate and hopefully include some specific news/update describing progress concerning my previously discussed Israel Wine Project.

So instead, I want to bring up wines from another not-too-discussed wine region – Washington state.

Washington State

Washington State, is known to produce some exceptional reds, in particular Merlot, Syrah and yes, of course, Cabernet Sauvignon (and blends including all or some of the aforementioned varietals). (more…)

Wine bashing

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The California wine industry that welcomed a wine-novice Wine Tasting Guy with open arms is under attack. Alice Feiring, a warm woman whom I met & spoke with at length shortly after transitioning into the wine industry, is under attack. Wine drinkers everywhere are seemingly under attack. (more…)

They don’t make ’em like they used to

Monday, May 5th, 2008

oak-chips.jpgI just read a recent post by Eric Asimov of the New York Times on his blog The Pour. The post, titled “Does Your Wine Need Viagra” deals primarily with the issue of alternative sources used by wine producers for imparting the OAK flavors to wines (chips, powders & staves instead of barrels). But the article itself, as well as the myriad of comments that follows seems to be praising the old world producers, how they let the wine make itself, without the use of modern technology. While the New World producers (specifically California) are using all sorts of alternative technologies and products to make wines that lose that something special. (more…)

Polaner tasting standouts

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Got back from the West Coast this morning and I hope to write up about day 1 of my wine country trip tomorrow. But now, my long overdue summary of the wines I was able to try at the Polaner tasting. As I previously mentioned, the annual event has an amazing array of top notch wines from all over the world, but in my opinion, there are simply too many wines. Maybe given my “neophyte” status, I try to taste as many wines as possible and miss the point. Maybe I should lower my expectations and simply focus on one variety or one region. This could help to make events of this size more manageable. I don’t know. Either way, while it was overwhelming, I tasted some very fine wines and met some very personable and charming winemakers (or winery proprietors).

Of the 75 tables and several hundred wines I managed to taste 117 wines. (more…)

Vindicated! Pouring wine at bar/restaurant

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Friends, business partners and dates have seen me make a case out of it. While dining out, or simply sharing a bottle of wine at a food/beverage establishment, a waiter will often come over to “top off” the glasses. When I am fast enough, I will (as politely as possible) thank them and tell them “not to worry about it”, my nice way of saying don’t you dare pour another drop of the wine I just purchased into that glass. I am fully capable of pouring my own wine thank you very much.

This may sound passively aggressive, or even just plain aggressive, to some of you, but it is something I feel very strongly about (among many other things when it comes to wine service). (more…)