Happy weekend-ing. Hope you got a tall glass of wine on hand, because we’ve got a hefty news reel for you this week. Rock on my wine friends…



Wine Industry Advisor: The Next Varietal Trend—Analysts Weigh In

In the 1980s and 90s, the next big thing in wine was White Zinfandel. In the 2010s, it was sweet red blends. So, what’s the next varietal-driven wine that will delight consumers and propel industry growth? READ MORE

New York Times: The Best Wine Glass for Any Occasion: Our Critic Reviews 5 New Contenders

Each turns holding and swirling a goblet into a rare and sensual pleasure. But how do they differ when it comes to experiencing the wine?

For the last couple of months I’ve been drinking luxuriously.

The bottles have been no different — they are the usual mix depending on regions, grapes and producers I’m curious about and articles I’m working on, with the occasional treat. But I’ve been pouring wine into five of the best wine glasses money can buy.

Over most of the last decade the top glass among wine lovers was the Zalto Denk’Art Universal, which, when I first encountered it in 2011, seemed fundamentally different and radically better than the other leading glasses.

But in the last few years several other high-end glasses have been challenging Zalto’s supremacy, which brought me to these five lead-free crystal universal glasses, each precisely designed (and marketed) to be the only glass anybody would need to drink every sort of wine.

Anybody, that is, willing to pay the roughly $60 to $90 price per glass. READ MORE

Grape Collective: Kitá Wines, First Native American Brand in U.S., Will Close

Kitá Wines of Santa Barbara County, the first U.S. winery and vineyard owned by a Native American tribe with a winemaker from the tribe, will close its doors, Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said Tuesday.

In 2010, the coastal Chumash tribe purchased 1,400 acres from the estate of Fess Parker with the intention of building housing that the reservation needed and a community hall. The land, which was once property the tribe had lived on for 9,000 years, according to its website, included the 256-acre Camp 4 Vineyard, on the eastern boundary of the Valley, at the entrance of Happy Canyon AVA, home to other vineyards. Camp 4 refers to the stage coach stop on the route from San Francisco to Yuma, Arizona. Kitá, in the Chumash language, Samala, means “Our Valley Oak.” READ MORE…

Wine Industry Advisor: Leveraging QR Codes to Increase Wine Sales

Just a few years ago, QR codes were the anchovies of the wine label. A very specific product that consumers would either automatically gravitate toward, or spurn completely.

But the pandemic changed that. QR code downloads have increased 750 percent in the past 18 months for restaurants alone, link management service Bitly told CNBC. Today, a QR code is often the only way to read a menu, pay a bill, or get more information about a business on the spot. People of all ages and tech inclinations are now forced to become comfortable with QR codes—a fact that has implications for every industry. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: New Study Suggests Red Wine Reduces COVID Infection Rates

What if that glass of Châteauneuf you’re sipping with dinner is also reducing your chances of contracting COVID-19? A new study analyzed health data on nearly 500,000 U.K. residents and found that subjects who drank one to two glasses of red wine a day had a 10 to 17 percent lower risk of contracting COVID than non-drinkers. Subjects who drank white wine had a 7 to 8 percent lower risk if they consumed five glasses or less per week, while those who frequently drank beer or cider had a 28 percent higher chance of contracting the virus than non-drinkers. READ MORE…

Falstaff: South Africa: Pinotage Turns Over a New Leaf

If you think you know Pinotage, think again. The combination of earlier harvests and gentler extraction has allowed Pinotage to show its elegant side. Brimming with ocean freshness and aromatic fruit, these wines are a real departure – and show off the character of beautiful single sites in South Africa’s winelands. READ MORE

Sonoma Index Tribune: Rob Bundschu, lost and found in ‘Uncorking Miracles’

“This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found.”

Those well-worn lines from the biblical tale of the Prodigal Son are not lost on Rob Bundschu.

The parable told by Jesus in the Book of Luke — which recounts the story of a youth who leaves his family farm for a raucous life of wine, women and song, only to realize the error of his ways and be welcomed back home with open arms – isn’t so far from Bundschu’s life’s journey. READ MORE

Wine Industry Advisor: Latest Research on Smoke Taint Revealed

Tom Collins, head of the smoke research efforts at Washington State University, spoke to the industry on January 20 about his latest progress in his multi-year research on the effects of smoke on grapes and wine made from grapes exposed to smoke. READ MORE

Harper’s: South Africa’s wine industry “must adapt to survive”

Wine oversight body Vinpro has urged South Africa’s winegrowers to use the pandemic crisis as an opportunity “to revive, recover and rebuild,” adapting current business models to better cope with a rapidly changing world. READ MORE

Decanter: Burns Night—Wines to match with haggis

Will you be piping in the haggis on 25 January? Scotch whisky is the traditional choice for Burns Night supper, but here are some delicious wine styles to try out with this meaty, herby and peppery delicacy. READ MORE

Wine Enthusiast: How to Pair Wine with Indian Food and Succeed Every Time

“Traditional wine pairings don’t apply when it comes to Indian food,” says Alpana Singh.

At 26, Singh became the first woman of South Asian descent to receive the Master Sommelier certification. She believes there’s potential to pair wine with Indian dishes, despite incorrect assumptions some people make about the country’s cuisines. READ MORE

wine.co.za: The wine industry pledged to improve diversity, equity and inclusivity. Has anything changed?

In 2020, several critical events caused the wine industry to reckon with the underrepresentation and mistreatment of marginalized groups in all sectors of the trade. The industry found itself under intense scrutiny from within and without. READ MORE

Wine Industry Advisor: Turning the Tables Posthumously on Ken Friedenreich—Wine Writer and Industry Devotee

I learned of Ken Friedenreich’s death in the November issue of Oregon Wine Press, and I was ridden with guilt. I initially met Ken when I started my PR agency in 2009; we both seemed to appear at all the same wine events. We got to be friendly and worked on client projects together—Ken as the Hack and me as the Flack. As you read this interview, you will learn how profound and esoteric Ken was. He was quite an operator—and funny all the time, even when he called me from the hospital treatment center.

I used to joke that I would finally publish his Turning the Tables interview posthumously, which is how things worked out, thus the guilt.

But joy in sharing his story. READ MORE…

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

The Gray Report: Lisa Perrotti-Brown makes some interesting accusations, and maybe solves the Wine Advocate sake mystery

Longtime readers of The Gray Report may remember that in 2016, I discovered an unusual situation whereby every sake rated 90 points or more by the Wine Advocate was available at one retailer that sold only those sakes. It was as if the retailer, which I later learned seemed to have a connection to Robertparker.co.jp, had prior knowledge of which sakes the Advocate would recommend, so it could corner the market and raise prices.

At the time, Wine Advocate Editor-in-Chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown said she would investigate, but never released any results of the investigation. READ MORE

Tim Atkin: The Ethics of Wine Criticism, Again

Another year, another attempt to save wine criticism from the forces of darkness. The newest gallant is Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, whose contribution will apparently be unbiased wine criticism without the conflicts of interest with which, she alleges, the industry is rife.

There are many things to ponder in the comments Perotti-Brown made to The Drinks Business, such as if someone will ever start something in America without shouting that everyone else does it badly (I guess we can be thankful for the small mercy that it didn’t take up an entire book this time around). READ MORE

Vino Joy News: Wine Advocate unveils China’s top 10 wines

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has released the first edition of top 10 fine wines in China and awarded for the first time a high score of 95 to a Chinese wine.

The leading American wine publication has published the China: Fine Wine 2021 report after assessing 171 reviews from 27 different producers. To be qualified into the “fine wine” category, the wines need to excel in quality, ambition and pricing, as it explains. READ MORE

Dame Wine: Remarkable Ageability Of Wines Made From The Tempranillo Grape Variety

As a group of friends gathered together to celebrate a special 50th birthday back in the first month of 2020, before Covid took a stranglehold on the world, the anticipation of a 50-year-old wine about to be poured started to build among the group. The wine would be poured blind and the only clues were that it was from 1970 and it was obviously red by the garnet color. READ MORE…

WSET: From British to American English, decoding wine and spirits terms with former NFL champion Will Blackmon

From biscuit to porridge, bramble to gooseberry, we know that some of the terms used in our Systematic Approach to Tasting wines and spirits don’t always align with American English.

To help decode some of these tricky British words, we asked Super Bowl Champion, NFL Veteran and WSET student, Will Blackmon to act as our translator! Following a successful career in American football, Will retired from the sport in 2018 and founded The Wine MVP, a concierge wine service.

He checked in with WSET’s chief exec, Ian Harris MBE DipWSET, and helped to translate a few terms that tend to cause confusion. WATCH HERE…

Jamie Goode: New releases from Château Mercian, Japan

I tasted these new releases from important Japanese producer Mercian on a zoom call with their team. As well as discussing the wines, they revealed some of their new projects. READ MORE

Grape Collective: Marco Nicolosi of Barone di Villagrande—An Etna Bianco Pioneer

The Nicolosi Asmundo family has been living with the vine in Milo on the southeastern slope of Etna for over 300 years. Records from the early 18th century show the Bishop of Catania gave the family the task to turn the fields of Etna from an “horrific and untamed place to a delicious garden.”  In 1727 the Emperor Charles VI of Augsburg, gave Don Carmelo Nicolosi the title of Baron of Villagrande. Over 100 years later in 1869 Paolo Nicolosi built the new cellar and was the first in the region to separate vinifying white and red grapes rather than the traditional process of blending and co-fermenting.  The family has been formally committed to organic farming practices since 1989. READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

D.O. CAVA: The production of Cavas de Guarda Superior of the D.O. Cava will be 100% organic by 2025

The D.O. Cava has announced today that by 2025 the production of Cavas de Guarda Superior, a category of the highest quality that includes Cavas Reserva (minimum 18 months of ageing), Gran Reserva (minimum 30 months of ageing) and Cavas de Paraje Calificado (from a specific area and with a minimum of 36 months of ageing), will be 100% organic. READ MORE…


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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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