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  • News

    How to Save 95 Calories on Your Glass of Red Wine

    by Jameson Fink on 4/24/2014

    If you are counting calories when it comes to both your food and your glass of red wine, The Drinks Business, in a post titled The World's Most Fattening Drinks has some interesting information for you. First of all, you're probably going to want to avoid sticky and sweet wines like Pedro Ximenez Sherrys. A scant 120ml portion contains 320 calories.

    And mulled wine, with its added sugar and booze is going to cost you 400 calories per glass. (Though they don't mention the size of the glass.)

    White wine? Two examples are given: Jacob's Creek Chardonnay and Moet & Chandon at 185 and 190 calories per large glass, respectively. Since I'm going to assume the latter is Champagne, I am definitely spending the money and absorbing the five extra calories.

    Finally, for a large glass of red wine the article points to E&J Gallo Merlot at 170 calories versus 265 for the Marques de Cáceras Reserva (Rioja). It's unclear if for the Merlot, The Drinks Business is talking about a lower alcohol jug wine that may account for the calorie disparity.

    One thing is clear, the folks at The Drinks Business have a heavy hand when it comes to pouring. Their "large" glass doesn't mess around, coming in at 250ml. That's a third of a bottle! So take that into account; a 150ml serving is much more standard.

    Also, if the folks at The Drinks Business invite you to a wine and cheese party, say yes and get a driver.

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  • News

    Coin-Flipping Monkeys to Replace Wine Experts as Competition Judges

    by Jameson Fink on 4/24/2014

    Is there anything more satisfying for a wine expert than to dole out "Double Gold" award at a state fair competition? Do I even have to tell you the answer? (The answer is "No", BTW.) But their exalted status as arbiters of medal-worthy wines may be in jeopardy thanks to a study by Humboldt State University Professor Bob Hodgson. Jay Grafft riffs on these findings in The Daily Nexus, which is an awesome name for a newspaper.

    Hodgson entered the exact same wine into a competition multiple times and under different auspices every time as well. The results would vary a great deal not only for a particular judge's score but also among his or her fellow wine experts. The conclusion, as summarized by Grafft:

    "...[J]ust about every bottle of wine has the same exact chance of receiving first place — that is, a completely random chance. Basically, instead of having a panel of high-status wine experts, he could have just had a team of coin-flipping monkeys decide which bottle to pick. The end result would have been exactly the same."

    I don't know about the legal or ethical concerns regarding having primates serve as wine judges. Though watching the proceedings would be more fun than a (wine) barrel full of monkeys.

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  • News

    Your Coffee is No Longer Safe From Wine-Style Tasting Notes

    by Jameson Fink on 4/24/2014

    The worlds of coffee and wine are merging, not in your cup or glass but rather when it comes to tasting notes. As Evan Dawson, writing in Palate Press, ponders these developments and asks, "Is Coffee The New Wine?". Focusing in on a new book by Murray Carpenter, Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us, Dawson quotes a passage with tasting notes on a coffee:

    "Consider this description of a Colombian coffee sold by upmarket Stumptown Coffee Roasters: 'Rainier cherry, cranberry, and red apples all provide a counterweight to clover honey and semi-sweet chocolate in this crisp Colombian profile.'"

    Not only do I now feel shame about my lack of discernment when it comes to types of honey, but I wonder if consumers find this about as useful as the tasting notes in a wine review or on the back label of a bottle.

    Do you want to see coffee continue on the path that resembles the one that wine has taken? Or do you just want your damn cup of coffee?


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  • News

    Is Your Wine Headed for the Honor Roll or Detention?

    by Jameson Fink on 4/24/2014

    Is your wine diligently hitting the books and working on extra credit assignments? Or is it hanging out in the parking lot, smoking cigarettes and cutting class? A site called BeverageGrades is here to act as Principal and Guidance Counselor. After agreeing to a Terms of Service whose length is akin to War and Peace if half of it was in all caps, you can view wines tested in their lab and rated in categories like "Healthy Pour" and "Skinny Grade". The former is based on the presence of good and bad things in the wine, the later related to its caloric content.

    Curiously, BeverageGrades uses a five-star system rather than an A to F grading system. What, no 100 point scale?

    Exact amounts of substances present, like sugar, sulfites, and sodium are not revealed, but rather a wine is rated has having them present in levels "Worse Than Average", "Better Than Average", or "Above Average" compared to other wines in its category.

    BeverageGrades has also authored an alarmist press release about the levels of arsenic and lead in popular wines. This prompted John Kelly, writing in Notes From The Winemaker, to retort as well as call into question BeverageGrades methodology:

    "This lab is attempting to establish itself as an arbiter of which wines are 'healthier' than others on a range of metrics. Rather than provide actual levels of 'unhealthy' components in wines in the context of the range of levels of these same components found in comparable serving sizes of other foods, they claim they are using a proprietary algorithm to weight the levels they measure — however accurately, or inaccurately — by non-transparent and therefore arbitrary criteria in order to generate a one-to-five-star 'ranking' for individual wines. While Federal law prohibits wine producers from making health claims about their products, third parties such as this lab are, surprisingly, exempt from this injunction."

    What do you think of the service BeverageGrades is providing and do you share Kelly's concern about its research?

    Enjoy a short video about BeverageGrades, set to peppy music.

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  • Wine News

    Wine news April 24, 2014

    by Christopher Barnes on 4/24/2014

    In the Washington Post Dave McIntyre on why Portugal is high on wine lovers list. on bulk wine being driven by price, not green issues.

    W. Blake Gray on small and large wineries squeezing out the middle. 

    App to detect fake wine in China developed, reports The Drinks Business.

    Winesearcher on Napa's top vintages. Also on Winesearcher Rudy's sentancing delayed.

    Hitler wine sells at auction, reports Decanter.

    read more »

  • News

    The Oyster Or The Wine: Which Comes First?

    by Jameson Fink on 4/23/2014

    In the annals of classic wine pairings, oysters and white wine are probably on Mt. Rushmore, a founding member of the Hall of Fame, etc. Usually the most bracing of wines, like Muscadet, fit the bill and we alternate wine/oyster/wine as we sip/slurp/sip and repeat. Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator resists this natural impulse and instead heeds the advice of the organizer of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, Jon Rowley. Steiman, attending a leg of the West Coast event, was instructed by Rowley: "Don't taste the wine first." Rather, chew up the oyster (to establish its flavor and texture), then wash it down with the wine. This, according to Rowley, is how you find oyster and wine bliss.

    The judging of the wines was based on this same principle. It wasn't about the best wine but rather which wine worked best with the oyster.

    Rowley's inspiration for this method of oyster and wine consumption? A passage from Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast:

    "As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."

    How do you enjoy oysters and wine? And do you think employing Rowley's technique might change which white wines you enjoy with oysters?

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  • News

    Is That Bottle of Wine on the Shelf Literally Talking to You?

    by Jameson Fink on 4/23/2014

    Sometimes it seems a wine is calling you from the shelves, but if trends in packaging persist, a bottle might literally talk to you in order to get your attention. Beverage Daily has the details of the increasing lengths companies are going to get your attention focused on their product. Already we have a tequila with a base that lights up when a bartender pours it (Hornitos "LightPad") and Beverage Daily has more insights via quotes from the book "Innovations in Food Packaging" by a food packaging expert (naturally) from University College Cork, Joe Kerry.

    That lit-up tequila bottle? Could just be the tip of the iceberg. Kerry talks about using a combination of LED lights, a silicon chip, and a battery to trigger more targeted results. "The device can be designed to function for anywhere from a few minutes to several months. Another possible application envisioned is for sweepstakes or promotional campaigns, where bottles could be illuminated remotely to indicate a winning package, or winning bottles could emit a different color than regular bottles."

    If remotely-triggered flashing lights aren't enough for you, Kerry posits, "Miniature sound systems on boxes and bottles will give people spoken tips or ideas." Siemens, the German electronics company, Kerry reveals, has even developed an electronic display that can be applied like a wine label on a bottle.

    Do you want more information from your wine bottle delivered in an audio-visual manner? Or would you prefer it just shut the hell up?

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  • News

    89 or 90 Points: The Dividing Line Between The Life or Death of a Wine

    by Jameson Fink on 4/23/2014

    What's the toughest choice a wine critic has to make? Steve Heimoff gives a fascinating answer to this question on his blog, revealing, "For those of us who work (or used to work) the 100-point system, the biggest decision in our everyday job is whether to give a wine 89 points or 90 points. That is the dividing line between life and death." Heimoff is referring to how a 90 point score from a major wine publication can make it much more appealing for buyers, while the 89 makes some gun-shy.

    Commenter Tom Merle has some strong feelings about this practice: "...I consider an 89 score to epitomize the absurdity and tragedy of the 100 point system. Not only is it overly precise with a standard deviation of probably 3 points, but it is being awarded by one person. At least on CellarTracker you get several review of previous vintages by Normal Wine Drinkers–all clustering in the mid to high 80s."

    And Bill Hadon retorts that in some major markets, like Chicago and New York, mentioning a Parker score (or likely a score in general) does more to hurt a salesperson's cause than help it.

    The 89/90 sales chasm also goes to show that if you are a winery, salesperson, and/or buyer who relies heavily on scores to sell wine, you can live by the score (90) but also die by it (89).

    Does a wine having an 89 or 90 score make any difference to you? Does any score?

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  • News

    College Kids Making Wine Healthy Because College

    by Michael Woodsmall on 4/23/2014

    Students at Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism are looking to make our favorite booze healthier by extracting toxins from winemaking process. read more »

  • Wine News

    Wine news April 23, 2014

    by Christopher Barnes on 4/23/2014

    Wine consumption falls in Italy reports Decanter.

    Mike Steinberger in Winesearcher explains why New California is not so new.

    Rosé sales soar in France reports The Drinks Business.  Also in The Drinks Business, the top 10 wine cellars.

    Snooth provides an event calendar for May wine events.

    Wine and Spirits has an interview with Randall Grahm and Ceri Smith on the Chianti renaissance at Tosca.

    Alice Feiring on Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny and Francois.

    Dr. Vino looks into powdered alcohol.

    Tom Wark, proof that the three tier system is whatever distributors want it to be.

    Punch on the feud over Italy's most mysterious wine estate.

    How to make industrial wine taste great, Wired via Punch.

    Washington wineries have fun with recommender app reports the Los Angeles Times.

    read more »

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