Posts Tagged ‘Wine & Spirits daily’

ignition interlock device

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

So much to blog, so little time to do the actual blogging.  I guess that is why Twitter has become so damn popular of late.  I attended the Rioja grand tasting on Tuesday and tasted some wonderful TRADITIONAL style Spanish wines.  And Wednesday night, after a prolonged break, our wine group resumed our tour of Burgundy.  It was the grand finale (for now) of reds – Vosne Romanee!  Next up, Chablis.  I will do my best to blog about them sooooon….

But I’m posting tonight simply to share an interesting tidbit I was just made aware of by Megan of Wine & Spirits Daily.  Apparently, an alliance of 11 car companies are asking congress to mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles within 5-10 years.

In case you, like me, had no idea what an ignition interlock device was, here it is as per good old Wikipedia…

An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID and BIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed to a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device, if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programed blood alcohol concentration — usually 0.02 or 0.04 per cent, the motor will not turn over.

I’m not sure whether to applaud this as it will seemingly prevent reckless selfish drunks from entering our roadways OR freak out that big brother is coming….

Happy stay at home or get a designated driver wine tasting!



Monday, January 19th, 2009

“Why do we park on a driveway & drive on a parkway?”

This is the play on words joke I am reminded of as I prepare a quick little piece once again using the word “cork”.  In my last post I talked about “corked” wine.  And today I want to talk about “corkage”, or a corkage fee.

As the cartoon indicates a corkage fee is a fee restaurants charge guests who choose to bring their own bottle (of wine).  Not all restaurants offer this courtesy, but it is something certainly worth taking advantage of during these difficult economic times.

Some places that allow people to bring bottles for a fee are either restaurants that do not have their own liquor (or beer & wine) license.  Also, new restaurants that have not YET gotten their licenses will often allow guests to bring their own bottle – sometimes without charging a corkage.

People may be embarrassed to bring their own bottle but I read just today in “Wine & Spirits Daily” about a survey of women & wine with “Full Glass Research” wherein “55% (of women surveyed) stated that they are comfortable bringing their own bottle and paying a corkage fee“.

A final note about this convenient and practical option is WHAT BOTTLE to bring and pay the corkage fee.  Typically you can not bring a bottle that the restaurant already offers.  And inexpensive/generic bottles are often frowned upon.  May I suggest an unusual Israeli wine…

(Incidentally, Reuters in their review of the wine industry from 2008 said “Less well-known wine countries such as Israel … which (has) been making wine for millennia, (has) also seen (its) shares of the U.S. market gain a bit” – keep it up!)

Happy corkage fee wine tasting!


bizarre/antiquated state laws overturned

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

I must admit that I was at a loss for things to write about today and turned to a trusty site, Wine & Spirits Daily, for some fodder.  Luckily, Megan wrote about some wine/spirits related state laws that have recently been repealed.  The days full report (where the following excerpt was taken) can be found here.

Beer Prayer

From Wine & Spirits Daily, July 10th:

Colorado became the 35th state this week to allow residents to buy alcohol on Sundays, reports the Associated Press. The new law replaces a 1933 statute requiring liquor stores to close on Sunday, and also allows Coloradans to buy normal-strength beer on Sundays. Before, residents could only purchase reduced-strength, 3.2 percent alcohol beer at grocery stores on Sundays.

In Idaho, residents can now purchase spirits on Election Day, with a new law that replaces a 1939 measure intended to prevent the trading of alcohol for votes. (more…)

The 6 wine consumer segments

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

A very interesting piece I found via Wine and Spirits Daily, written by Megan Haverkorn. 

The stat I found most interesting is that almost 1/4 of wine consumers feel overwhelmed by all the wine options out there.  While I agree that there are A LOT of options, shouldn’t the wine professionals be doing a better job of making wine & wine purchasing more approachable, fun and easy????

I don’t have much to add to the interesting report, so without further ado…



Despite growing wine consumption in the U.S., consumers are reportedly still overwhelmed by wine and/or unwilling to branch out, according to Constellation’s “Home & Habits” study, the second phase of the company’s “Project Genome” study.  With the use of Nielsen scan data and online interviews, “Home & Habits” found new insights into the six consumer segments: Enthusiasts, Image Seekers, Savvy Shoppers, Traditionalists, Satisfied Sippers and Overwhelmed.  Constellation encourages the wine industry to pay more attention to the “overwhelmed” and “traditionalist” categories especially to ultimately increase their consumption and prompt them to try new brands and varietals. 


OVERWHELMED.  23% of consumers fall in this category.  Basically, they enjoy drinking wine but are overwhelmed by the huge selection on store shelves.  They’d like to receive more help and information when shopping in the wine section at retail stores.


IMAGE SEEKERS.  Consumers that view wine as a status symbol make up about 20% of all wine purchasers.  They are generally still in the learning stages, and prefer merlot above all other varietals.  The internet is their main source of learning about wine.  As you can imagine, men and millennials make up the bulk of this category.


TRADITIONALISTS.  About 16% of consumers enjoy wines from established wineries, are not as open to trying new brands, and believe wine is most appropriately used during a formal occasion. 


SAVVY SHOPPERS.  15% of consumers are “savvy shoppers,” which means they enjoy discovering new wines and varietals on their own.  They’re keen on specials, coupons and discounts.  They are also more likely to buy a glass of the house wine when dining out to save a few bucks.


SATISFIED SIPPERS.  These consumers (14%) do not know a lot about wine and are just fine drinking what they are familiar with.  They tend to buy the same domestic brand and drink wine almost everyday.  This consumer segment is also more likely to buy a large 1.5L bottle to save themselves a trip to the store.  Wine pairings?  Forget about it.


ENTHUSIASTS.  12% of consumers consider themselves knowledgeable about wine and enjoy entertaining at home.  They tend to be in the middle to upper class and like browsing wine aisles and reading wine publications.

The BATTLE for direct shipping rages on

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I’m catching up on emails as I attempt to recover from a very busy Israel trip. While I recently posted about and their “sting operation” to turn in retailers who are supposedly illegally shipping wine I just came across a very HEATED & interesting interview conducted by one of my most trusted wine industry sources, Megan Haverkorn of Wine & Spirits Daily.

This interview conducted by Megan on January 11th with an advocate from both sides of the shipping argument (which I will paste below to simplify finding it) allows both sides to present their arguments. While I am all for de-regulating state to state shipment of wine from retailers (as is often the case for wineries) it seems that the battle for this deregulation will be heated and vehemently contested. An interesting read for anyone who is hoping to (legally) sell wines online…

Friday, January 11, 2008

Three Tier Battles – A Talk with Tom Wark and Craig Wolf

There has been a lot of back and forth between online retailers and wine wholesalers in the past week, so we sat down with Tom Wark, executive director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association (SWRA) and Craig Wolf, ceo of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) separately to get to the bottom of the issue. Both trade groups say they are working for the greater good. But the SWRA claims wholesalers are only out for the money, while the wholesalers claim their concerns are for minors and for state-based regulation.

WINE & SPIRITS DAILY: Why have the SWRA gone through the effort of investigating distributor political contributions in every state?

TOM WARK: Wholesalers have every right to contribute obscene amounts of money to politicians across the country. But when those contributions are accompanied in nearly every state by anti-consumer and pro-wholesaler laws, it’s time to take stock of exactly what’s behind those laws. That’s what the “Wholesale Protection” report does.

The enormous contributions tell me that the wholesalers understand that a great deal is at stake and they are willing to spend what it takes to protect a regulatory scheme that functions to keep them awash in cash. In nearly every state law there exists a mandate that wholesalers get a kickback on nearly every bottle of wine that consumers eventually consume. This is what wholesalers are protecting by spending $50 million on campaign donations.

CRAIG WOLF: Everybody in this business should be, if they are not, involved in the political process…We know the SWRA is involved in political donations and we know they’re funding lawsuits to the tune of millions of dollars. They’re spending money in the way they deem fit for their agenda and so are the wholesalers who are putting up money to support candidates and elected officials who understand the importance of an accountable licensed system and protecting it. That is the American way. To try and vilify wholesalers in that way I think is absurd.

If you look at the report, they mix in beer wholesalers’ money with ours and try to attribute all the $50 million to wine and spirits wholesalers.

Second of all, we lobby on any number of items that are important to our members beyond simple issues of direct shipping or threats to the three tier system. Unlike us, the SWRA has one specific goal in mind: deregulation of the system. Our money is not only to protect a very important system, but to protect our employees and their jobs, which are in the score of thousands in the country. We also, like every other industry, lobby in the areas of health care, workplace safety, employee benefits, etc.

WSD: I understand your contention, Tom, that is playing a tattle tale, but shouldn’t all online retailers be playing by the same rules?

TOM: Yes. And that’s why I was very pleased to read the CEO of saying that an open market for wine is best for the consumer, for the wine industry and for My hope is that will join the effort by other retailers to create exactly these kinds of markets. But if they choose not to fight these pro-consumer, pro-industry battles by educating their customers and contributing to the effort, I at least hope they’ll say “thank you” to those retailers and consumers who did fight the battle on’s behalf when the laws are changed.

WSD: In the past, the SWRA has argued that online retailers follow state laws and therefore should be allowed to ship directly to consumers. Has’s “sting operation” hurt the SWRA’s argument that retailers are lawful and should ship direct?

TOM: I’ve yet to meet any wine consumer that believes markets should be closed to out-of-state retailers so that wholesalers can make more money. And by reading the various comments across the Internet and elsewhere on this issue by consumers, I think it’s pretty clear that the only thing that has resulted from this episode is that consumers have been made further aware of the anti-consumer laws that have been put in place to protect wholesalers. So, no. This doesn’t hurt our argument. It helps it. We are simply asking for the right to ship wine in exactly the same way that most states allow wineries to ship.

CRAIG: Wholesalers read the wine blogs. We know what’s going on with the wine blog websites. If they think that when they make these statements about acting with impunity and violating the law and that nobody is going to find out about it, they’re wrong. What’s most shocking about all these conversations we’re seeing by Tom Wark and other retailers on these blogs is that they’re more concerned with not getting caught violating the law then they are with trying to effect change legally. We have no problem if they want to go into the legislatures to fight these battles…but what they’re advocating for is to have their illegal conduct go unreported and unaccountable. They’re not upset with the fact that their own members may be violating the law and jeopardizing their licenses. No, they’re upset about the fact that they got caught.

Say what you want about’s business model and their viability. The fact is they’re trying to operate legally and change the system. We don’t agree with trying to ship direct – we disagree with that – but we think they’re going about it the right way. And we’re happy to debate and any other retailer about whether direct shipping is or is not a bad policy. But we’re not out their vilifying people.

I guarantee you the wholesalers will make these statements by Tom Wark and the other retailers out there about their lack of concern for illegal sales available to every regulator in this country.

They can’t engage in illegal conduct just because they don’t like the way the system is.

WSD: It seems like the SWRA has really stepped up its activity and PR in the last year. Is that because the organization smells success?

TOM: Everyone smells success on the issue of retailer-to-consumer shipping. All one has to do is listen to the arguments that wholesalers advance in opposition to it and you realize that they do too. Direct shipping will increase minors’ consumption of alcohol? Come on. The Supreme Court and the Federal Trade commission as well as nearly every alcohol regulator in America know that’s absurd. Then when you hear wholesalers argue that the Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision only applied to retailers you further realize that there is a certain desperation…eventually it will be made clear that the principles explained in Granholm apply to wineries and retailers alike.

That said, in the last year we’ve stepped up our efforts to educate consumers, retailers, lawmakers and media. That hasn’t been too hard to do when you have states like Illinois passing anti-consumer laws in the face of massive consumer opposition. We will continue to expose the protectionist arguments for what they are, continue educating and continue to stand up for consumers.

CRAIG: Look, welcome to the battle. Their advocacy for direct shipping is just the next in the chain of things we’ve been dealing with all along with direct shipping. We’re happy to have this debate at the state and federal level. But that is where the debates should occur. Not in the courts. And certainly not by condoning illegal conduct. We’re not out to vilify retailers or wineries. We understand they have a different perspective on things. We think they’re incorrect, we think their policies are misguided. But we’re not out to vilify them.

WSD: Tom, since presumably all of your retailers are buying their wine from licensed wholesalers, why do you think wholesalers are so against you?

TOM: Wholesalers don’t have to pick and choose their battles because they are so flush with cash as a result of the protectionist laws that exist everywhere. As a result they play a zero sum game where they oppose even the most benign and reasonable pro-consumer laws. Any effort that in any way alters the state mandated, anti-consumer three tier system is opposed. Think about this: A retailer selling and shipping a bottle of wine to a consumer in another state is exactly the same kind of transaction as a winery selling and shipping a bottle of wine to consumer in another state. Exactly the same. Yet the wholesaler are willing to argue that it is so fundamentally different in some way that it must be stopped. That’s just Fantasyland thinking. But, the wholesalers can AFFORD to think that way and advance that argument because there is no restriction on what they can spend to advance that argument. In the end, as always, the consumer looses to the Fantasyland Faction.

CRAIG: If wholesalers were simply interested in the bottom line, we would be advocating for more direct shipping by retailers. After all, every bottle sold by a retailer ultimately came from a wholesaler. But wholesalers don’t believe in commerce at any cost. And as can be seen from the investigation, the cost to the states is in lost revenue, lack of accountability and open disdain and disregard for their laws.

WSD: It seems like people in the wine industry are mainly bothered by the way went about “tricking” its competition. What bothers you and other SWRA members the most about the situation, Tom?

TOM: I can’t speak for the various members of SWRA. But what bothers me is that says one thing and does another. If really believe what they say they’d be sending e-mails to their customers in every state where retailer-to-consumer shipping is illegal; they’d be cutting checks just like other retailers to support the legal efforts to overturn the laws that prohibit wine lovers from getting the wines they want. They’d not be letting others do the heavy lifting while they play a game of Wine Cop that has no effect on their long term profitability and does not benefit the American wine consumer.

CRAIG: I think it’s wrong for the SWRA to vilify others who are simply pointing out that illegal conduct is occurring and should stop. Tom Wark is supposed to represent legally licensed retailers – and those retailers have an obligation to sell product legally. What kind of message does it send that he is more concerned about his members getting caught than he is about complying with the law?