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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Who Controls the U.S. Wine Market?

There are three companies that are responsible for almost half of the wine sold in the U.S. Gallo you might have guessed. The others are Constellation Brands and the generic sounding Wine Group.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What's Next After the Pinot Noir Fad?

The first question would be, "Is Pinot Noir a fad?" Most pinotphiles will argue that it's here to stay. History doesn't necessarily agree as people seem to come back to Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Remember Merlot in the 1990s? But it's probably safe to say Pinot Noir sales will at least level off as wine drinkers start to look for The Next Big Thing. Wine is a trendy business.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Second Cheapest Wine Principle

I thought I was the only one that did this, but it turns out it's a thing.

When selecting wine from an unfamiliar wine list, whether it's a bottle for dinner, or a glass at a wine bar, how do you select the right wine? If you're rich I suppose you can just get the most expensive (and probably the most overpriced) wine. If you're cheap like me you go a different route. I never want the least expensive one figuring it must be the worse wine on the list, right? Plus I figure it makes me look cheap. So I get the second cheapest.This way of selecting a wine has a name now: The Second Cheapest Wine Principle.
image from

I recently came across an article by some folks that tested this theory in NYC. 

Article from

There's some interesting insight into what some restaurants do knowing this happens.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Additives in Wine

Wine is just grapes with yeast added to turn the grape sugars into alcohol, right? Not by a long shot. There are tricks in the processing to adjust the final product. There are things added to change the wine and, hopefully, make it better. You can change the color, the tannins, lower the alcohol, etc. Or as one winemaker said after the not-so-good 2008 harvest, "Better wine making through chemistry." These things are not usually talked about by winemakers leading one to believe it must be bad for you.

A local wine writer, Dan Berger, talks about this in his weekly Press Democrat column.

Takeaways from the article: 1) Your wine is manipulated to make it better. 2) The cheaper the wine the more stuff that's likely been done to it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Napa vs. Sonoma -- Which is Better for You?

Other folks have written about the differences between visiting Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Which should you visit depends on what you see as a great trip. By looking at what you like to do can help determine what's right for you in a wine country visit.

Remember that generalizing about Napa is difficult. Generalizing about the whole of Sonoma County is even harder, but we'll give it a try.

Friday, March 18, 2016

This is How the Rich Live

Once or twice a year the typical person goes to the grocery store for a $20 bottle of bubbly to celebrate something. Rich people have the Champagne Machine Gun. Maybe you'll find it in some high-end clubs. I'm kinda hoping I'll never see one.  :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wine Tasting -- The Inexact Science

Art, movies, books, beer, wine, etc. There's really very little objectivity to knowing what's good or not so good, but there are lots of opinions. People struggle with finding that line between objectivity and subjectivity in wine. This is mostly a problem for people who want to rate or score wine. The regular consumer just wants to know if they like it or not.

Why is it such a problem? Because everybody is different. And every situation is different.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Napa, that sleepy little farming valley

Anyone who has visited Napa Valley may refer to it by its often-used nickname, "Disneyland for adults." But a sleepy farming area? Not in a place with that much traffic and that many places to drop a few hundred dollars at a time on eating or drinking.

Well, it wasn't that long ago.

Friday, March 11, 2016

How many glasses of wine a day?

You've got to wonder with all the health-related news about wine what's the proper amount to consume. Well, I'm here to do the math for you and the news is all good. Well, almost all good. Your evenings are going to be pretty booked up now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Record U.S. Wine Exports

The data is in on 2015 U.S. wine sales abroad and it's good news. Compared to 2014 sales dollars where up over 7.5% and volume up over 4%. That's 1.61 billion dollars. The dollar growth between 2009 and 2014 grew 64%.

California makes 90% of all American wine and 90% of the overseas sales are California wines.

The biggest market is the UK. Europe takes 40% of our exports followed by Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and China. As you can see Asia is a very important market for California wines.

Article from the Press Democrat on exports from local wineries.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Red wine, part of your diet plan

This is weight loss season as everybody tries to diet and exercise for awhile after the holidays. Very few people stick with it because whatever they try is just not sustainable over the long run. Now we have something that is enjoyable, fun, and sustainable -- two glasses of red wine a day.

From studies as Harvard Medical School and Washington State University the compound resveratrol found in red wine will turn your fat into something called "beige fat," a version that is easier to burn. They recommend two glasses of red wine every evening. Of course, you could eat blueberries or raspberries, two other sources of resveratrol, but screw that.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Mistakes You Shouldn't Make After That Fourth Glass of Wine

When you've had too much and are feeling good it's easy to fall into certain traps. Maybe you should stop while you're ahead. Hopefully you've figured out you shouldn't be driving.

The weekend is coming and you want to let loose, but ...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Where is the American Wine Industry Headed?

Yeah, like I'm going to know the answer to that billion dollar question. But at least I can give you my best guess by extrapolating from readings on various trends in the local wine biz.

Executive Summary: Make an organic sparkling rosé and sell it for under $25. Nothing to it!