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    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?

    read more »

  • 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 »

  • News

    A Robot That Pours Sparkling Wine Better Than a Sommelier

    by Jameson Fink on 4/22/2014

    Sommeliers, do you welcome your robot Champange-pouring overlords? It might behoove you to step aside and let the FIZZeye robot take care of the bubbly. The Vineyard of the Future reports on a device engineered to pour the perfect glass of sparkling wine. The post (somewhat blandly) announces, "A robotic bottle pourer has been developed to standardise time and wine volume of pouring into a standardised vessel."

    And while the robot may lack tableside manner, (in fact, all it can to is take up space on your table) FIZZeye has scientific value as far as judging quality in sparkling wine, particularly its "bubble behaviour, appearance (bead) and foam persistence (mousse)." Since the human pourer (aka sommelier) can lack consistency, FIZZeye not only regulates all aspects of liquid delivery but also has a digital camera attached to the pourer. Photos taken are "...evaluated by image analysis algorithms, which convey the information into bubble size and speed, foamability (ability of the wine to produce foam), foam persistence and stability, and collar stability."

    Watch FIZZeye in action.

    read more »

  • News

    Faux, Faux, Faux: The Fakest of Fake Wines Do Not Fake Out Lafite Rothschild

    by Jameson Fink on 4/22/2014

    What a thrill to be able to purchase 12 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild spanning vintages from 1784 to 1906, no? An Atlanta real estate investor, Julian LeCraw Jr., had the pleasure of doing so. But, as Wine Spectator reports, he also had the distinct displeasure of finding out they were fakes.

    After suspicions about the authenticity of the bottles were raised, Le Craw sought the services of Chai Consulting Founder Maureen Downey, who is a wine authentication pro. And Downey, unfortunately, had bad news. "There were questionable corks, capsules and problems with the shape and color of the bottles," her report read. She also believed some of the labels were computer-printed.

    Downey even travelled to Bordeaux with Le Craw's attorney to gather more testimony, visiting Château Lafite Rothschild itself. Director of Domaines for Domaines Barons de Rothschild Charles Chevallier, upon investigating the bottles, deemed them as fakes. And did not say so one time, but three times according to testimony. So they weren't just fake according to Chevallier, but "faux, faux, faux".

    Is it safe to buy historic wine any more? Caveat emptor!



    read more »

  • News

    How to Make a 1,000,000 Gallon Batch of Wine

    by Jameson Fink on 4/22/2014

    Making wine on a small scale is a risky enough venture, but what if you're working with a batch of gargantuan sizes? One mistake doesn't affect hundreds of bottles, but rather millions? Wired, in a story entitled "Juiced: How to Make Mass-Produced Wine Taste Good", has the unsettling details of how wineries with huge volume production can hedge their bets.

    More than 70 additives and treatments are allowed by the US Government to mingle with your wine. Some sound OK. Water? No problem. Sulfur? I'm cool with that. Ammonium salts and liquefied oak "essence"? Uh, you're losing me.

    But wait, there's more: sugar, tartaric acid, powdered tannin, pectic enzymes, gum arabic, velcorin, and mega-purple. And if that's not enough, these techniques may be employed: a spinning cone column, micro-oxygenation, and/or reverse osmosis.

    What additives, if any, are you OK with being added to your wine?

    read more »

  • Wine news

    Wine news April 22, 2014

    by Christopher Barnes on 4/22/2014

    The Wine Enthusiast on the argument over sub-zones in Montalcino.

    Small scale Champagne producers under threat says Union president, reports Decanter.

    Anthony Giglio writing in Details Magazine on 5 reasons Lodi will become the next Napa Valley, via Winebusiness.

    As it is Earth Day today, Snooth explores attitudes to organic wines.

    Sonoma Wine Museum to open in 2015 reports Wines and Vines.

    Vinography on an American perspective on wine in Japan.

    Early tip-off means no wine for Gregg Popovich, reports Dr. Vino.

    Winefolly on how to write wine tasting notes.

    Katie Kelly Bell in Forbes on why Biodynamic Wines are better for you.

    The Wine Economist asks, can Portugal win the wine wars?

    Eric Asimov in the New York Times on A Wine Critic's Realm isn't a Democracy.

    read more »

  • News

    How to Have Better Conversations About Wine in Spanish

    by Jameson Fink on 4/21/2014

    Bud break, lees racking, pumping over. These are common terms in the production of wine from the vineyard to the bottle. But if you're working in the United States and are a native English speaker, how do you translate these terms to your Spanish-speaking colleagues? Josefina Adriance's "Spanish for the Wine Industry" program is celebrating its 10th anniversary of doing so. While there's no shortage of resources for learning Spanish, Adriance explained to the Napa Valley Register that, "Usually the textbooks cover the vocabulary for general students or travelers.”

    As a companion to the course, Adriance created a Spanish-English Dictionary for the Wine Industry. It contains over 7,500 terms, providing Spanish translations for everything from lignification to itemized invoice. (I don't even know what lignification means in English. I am, however aware of the itimized invoice, thank you very much.)

    Oh, and how to say bud break, lees racking, and pumping over in Spanish? Desborre, desliado, and remontar, respectively.

    read more »

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