Happy weekend, folks. Can a week go by fast and slow at the same time? It definitely has for me—and the amount of news gathered in this weekly round-up is a testament to that. In fact, there’s so much stuff, I’m just going to let you do your thing. Scroll through, read, learn, have some fun. And, as always, drink good wine. Cheers.
Food & Wine: The Fine Art of Telling a Customer to F Off
Regardless of the visible hardship in the restaurant industry, the public still demands chipper and prompt service from people like me. The phrase, “not as good as before the pandemic” appears frequently in online reviews, as if all it takes is to simply pick ourselves up, shake it off, and get right back to work.
But remember, we are desperate. So no matter what the guest throws our way, we just smile, apologize (if necessary) and say, “Yes!”
When did it become ingrained in our collective psyche that we should take abuse from complete strangers? Why is it that managers, owners, and staff are too petrified to stand up for themselves? Amidst all the fear, doubt, and desperation, have we lost our sense of self-worth?
Allow me to remind you, comrades, that you are in control! You are beautiful! Your restaurant is your home. That means your rules.
It is time that we said “enough is enough” to those who conflate service with servitude. When pushed too far, we should reach deep into our recipe book for an old classic: by combining a little dash of poise, two splashes of vigor, and a twist of charm, we can and should occasionally say, “f@$k off.” READ MORE…
Wall Street Journal: Fake Covid-19 Certificates Hit Airlines, Which Now Have to Police Them
Test results, often required to fly across borders, can be easily manipulated
Airlines are battling a scourge of passengers traveling with falsified Covid-19 health certificates.
The documents are often the Covid-19 test results required by many countries on arrival. The International Air Transport Association industry body says it has tracked fake certificates in multiple countries, from France to Brazil, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Border control authorities and police forces have also reported arrests of people selling documents in the U.K., Spain, Indonesia and Zimbabwe, among others.
The problem is hitting international flights more than domestic ones, which typically don’t require certification at the moment. Airlines that are more dependent on cross-border travel, particularly those operating in Europe, are growing increasingly alarmed as they look to the summer, when they still hope demand will start to return.
The proliferation of fake health certificates is exposing a logistical blind spot, as airlines rush to navigate post-pandemic travel standards and retool their systems to ease compliance—and spur demand. Airlines say their staff aren’t equipped to handle and police all the new health certifications needed and worry the problem will be exacerbated when some countries also start to ask for vaccination certificates. READ MORE…
New York Times: Yes, Your Employer Can Require You to Be Vaccinated
Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.
As many Americans prepare to head back to the office, companies are hammering out policies on the extent to which they will require, or strongly encourage, employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The bottom line is that companies are legally permitted to make employees get vaccinated, according to recent guidance from the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Here’s the latest about the rules in the United States on vaccinations in the workplace. READ MORE…
Eater: Home Cooks Feeding India’s COVID Patients
With huge numbers of patients confined to their homes, home cooks have stepped up to prepare meals for their neighbors and strangers alike
Last month Vijay Medikonda, a software professional from Hyderabad, India, tested positive for COVID-19. All the adults in the family — Medikonda, his wife, and his mother — were infected and in home isolation, and one of the couple’s three children developed a fever. “The virus sapped the energy [from] our bodies,” says Medikonda. “The fatigue was immense, so we could not do anything more than rest.” Cooking was the last thing on the family’s mind. Thankfully, Medikonda’s neighbor pitched in and left home-cooked meals at the family’s doorstep for two weeks.
The second COVID-19 wave hit India by early March this year. For months, the country’s infection and mortality rate climbed, reaching an official number of 349,186 deaths, not including the unreported ones. Social media was awash with urgent requests for oxygen, beds, and medicines. And as increasing numbers of people were confined to their homes with no energy to cook for themselves, home-cooked food was also part of this essentials list. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: COVID-19 ushers in tasting room changes as Sonoma, Napa wineries embrace appointment-only model
The pandemic has forced businesses to think outside their traditional way of doing things. That’s especially been the case for the region’s prominent wine industry, which traditionally has been of the most hidebound sectors that is hesitant to jump upon consumer trends.
The most dramatic change in the local sector has been in the tasting room, which is typically on every must-visit list to Sonoma County. Wineries were not allowed visitors during the first few months of COVID-19 because of health protocols and then customers were permitted at reduced capacity for the rest of 2020. Almost all were on an appointment-only basis. But as life gets back to normal, North Coast winery owners say the reservation model will be increasingly used more because it has grown in popularity with both consumers and their own staff.
Dry Creek Vineyard just north of Healdsburg is a perfect example.
Before the pandemic, about 50% of its visitors during the work week would be walk-in customers. That number could grow to as much as 70% during busy weekends, owner Kim Stare Wallace said. READ MORE…
Washington Post: Winemakers to pour $4 million into Smithsonian’s popular American Food History Project
As it celebrates the 25th anniversary of what is now called the American Food History Project and the 20th anniversary of bringing Child’s kitchen to Washington, the museum will announce on June 7 a $4 million bequest from Warren and Barbara Winiarski, founders of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. The gift will fund a permanent curator position to be called the Winiarski curator of food and wine history, and it will support continued efforts to research and collect items relating to our appetites and thirsts. READ MORE…
VinePair: No One Is Talking About Bulk Wine, but They Should
The stereotype of bulk wine is the kind that comes in a box, the cardboard containers sitting on the bottom shelf of the grocery store. It’s correlated with inexpensive drinking, a wine product for college students on a budget and beverage novices that a serious wine person wouldn’t deign to ever pick up.
In reality, bulk wine — defined as wine shipped in large containers and bottled at its destination — is found in plenty of consumer products. Major retailers like Costco, Target, and Trader Joe’s use bulk wine to fill their 750-milliliter glass bottles to sell under their house brands. That goes for companies with private labels too. Brands source in bulk for canned wine and wine-based products, like hard seltzers and sangrias. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Is There Anything New to Say About Rosé? (Podcast)
Ever since the rosé movement exploded onto the scene in the U.S. in the early aughts, production and production has continued to rise worldwide. It’s proven that it’s much more than a summertime poolside libation, with fans from novice wine lovers to pop culture icons and celebrities.
Throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, rosé was a gateway for many wine consumers to travel the world through their glasses. The style’s rainbow of offerings includes selections that are versatile, affordable, approachable, attractive and food-friendly.
In this episode, Associate Managing Editor of Digital, Emily Saladino, speaks with sommelier and natural wine consultant Margot Mazur as well as The Lotus and the Vines founder Larissa Dubose. The three discuss how climate change and last year’s wildfires found winemakers pivoting from full-bodied reds to rosés made with minimal skin contact. READ MORE & LISTEN HERE…
Decanter: Best celebrity wines—How good are they?
From Hollywood actors to international pop stars, the rich and famous have often been drawn to the world of winemaking. But how involved are they, and does their star status shine through in their wines?
A growing number of celebrities are getting involved with the wine world – some owning vineyard estates but others getting more hands on in the winemaking itself. Well known ones include Jay Z’s involvement with Armand de Brignac, which he sold a 50% stake to LVMH earlier this year; The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook wines, often served at the Oscars, and Miraval rosé, from the Provence estate owned by former couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
There’s also professional golfer Ernie Els, with Stellenbosch wines, Cliff Richard’s Portuguese reds, Sam Neill’s Central Otago Two Paddocks and fashion designer Roberto Cavalli’s wines from Tuscany. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: Gary Farrell Winery launches GoFundMe honoring late winemaker
Gary Farrell Winery has established a fundraiser in honor of winemaker Mark Osborne, who died at 52 years old after he was struck by a suspected drunk driver while cycling near Sebastopol in May.
The Healdsburg winery set a goal to raise $20,000 through GoFundMe to split between Friends of Trione Annadel and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition in Osborne’s name. More than 100 people have donated $17,125 as of Wednesday morning, according to the GoFundMe.
“While many of us in the wine industry remember Mark for his dedication to producing incredible wines, it’s his passion for the outdoors and cycling that we ask you to support through a donation to his memorial fund,” the GoFundMe reads. “Both of these causes were incredibly near and dear to Mark.”
The winery initially hoped to raise $10,000 total. After reaching its goal in a few days, they decided to double the amount of money for the two organizations. READ MORE…
Blogs Worth a Read
Taken from the list of Blogs 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 blogs to follow or want your blog included on that list.
Napa Valley Wine Academy: What Makes Pinot Noir Burgundian or ‘Orgundian?’
Examining the Environmental influences of two prominent Pinot Noir regions
There’s a common anecdote that the reason Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVA is so successful in Pinot Noir production is because of its location along the same latitude as Burgundy’s Cote d’Or AOC, the Motherland of said variety.
While the Old and New World regions may share some environmental similarities, it is in their differences that we can enjoy two distinct styles of Pinot Noir wines.
Interestingly, the latitudinal fact is not true. Willamette Valley is located along the 45th parallel (more in line with Bordeaux); Cote d’Or along the 47th.
Two degrees of separation may not seem like a lot, but it means being further north, Cote d’Or, has a slightly cooler climate. READ MORE…
New York Times: The Message in a Reusable Wine Bottle: Combat Climate Change
Glass bottles are the largest source of the wine industry’s carbon footprint. Several companies are experimenting with new shipping methods.
Last month, a 24,000-liter hermetically sealed plastic container, or flexitank, carrying organically grown pinot grigio from Sicily arrived in a cargo container at Filling Station East, a wine packaging facility near the port in Bayonne, N.J.
The wine was for Gotham Project, a company that specializes in kegged wine, which it sells to bars and restaurants in almost 40 states. The Sicilian pinot grigio, the equivalent of about 32,000 750-milliliter bottles, was siphoned through a thick hose from the flexitank into a 6,400-gallon stainless steel tank. Eventually, it will fill kegs, cans and bottles.
But those bottles will not be the ordinary single-use wine variety that should be recycled (but more likely get trashed). These Gotham Project bottles are intended to be reused multiple times.
The idea of returnable, reusable bottles is to cut down on waste, while reducing the carbon output of the wine industry, moves dictated by the necessity of combating climate change. READ MORE..
Vinography: Forging a New View of Sonoma Valley—Introducing Gail Wines
There comes a point in some people’s careers where the only thing left to do is to make some wine. Like they’ve been walking down a road without knowing where they were headed, yet all the while vigneron has been their destination.
Growing up blue-collar in Cranston, Rhode Island, Daniel O’Brien isn’t someone you would have pegged to become a winemaker. He’d be the first to tell you that.
“We were a classic Irish, Italian Catholic working-class family,” says O’Brien. “Mom worked in the local school system, dad worked in trucking and warehousing. Needless to say we weren’t a big wine family.” READ MORE…
Tablas Creek: California Re-Opening: How COVID Changed our Tasting Room Model Going Forward
Sometimes, it takes a crisis to spur you to change something fundamental to your business. So it was when we got the news on March 18th, 2020 that we’d have to close our tasting room for the foreseeable future. When we were allowed to reopen in June, we were challenged to think of how we could give guests (and our team) the safest possible experience while also continuing our mission to educate them and showcase the great work our vineyard and cellar teams were doing. It’s only gradually that we’ve realized that the changes we made actually produced a superior experience to the one that we had been offering before. READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Tolerance v intolerance
Over the past few months since my Master of Wine research paper on the relationship between sulphur dioxide and the levels of biogenic amines in wine was published (summarised in this article), I’ve had many people contact me. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with winemakers and wine professionals, particularly those with biochemistry backgrounds, exclaiming that the findings are like a eureka moment in the understanding of biogenic amine (BA) production and accumulation in wine. I’ve also had numerous wine drinkers thank me for going a fair way towards identifying the reasons they can or can’t drink particular wines for fear of suffering adverse reactions that are not attributable to overindulgence in alcohol itself.
My paper conducted a substantial literature review on wine intolerance and established that the most likely cause of this surprisingly common condition is BAs. READ MORE…
Tim Atkin: How Democratic Is Rioja?
Imagine being a voter in Liverpool Walton or South Holland and the Deepings. In the first of these constituencies, the Labour Party received 86% of the ballot in the last general election; in the second, the Conservatives got 75%. Under our first past the post system, the results are as predictable as the lunar cycle. Supporting any other party is a waste of graphite.
Now imagine being a small winery in Rioja with no influence over the future of your own region. Spain’s highest profile Denominación de Origen Calificada is the equivalent of a very safe parliamentary seat for the people in charge. It’s the Liverpool Walton of the wine world. READ MORE…
Vino Joy News: Tax on Australian wines edges up Chile
Chile is reaping in market share left by Australian wines, which topped China’s wine market up till last November when crippling tariffs brought it to a crashing halt.
China’s punitive tariffs on Australian wines of up to 218% have wiped out Australian exporters but edged up Chilean wineries, as the South American country reports surging exports to China, its current biggest export market by value.
Chile, China’s second biggest wine exporter behind France, is reaping in market share left by Australian wines, which topped China’s wine market up till last November when crippling tariffs brought it to a crashing halt.
“Chilean wineries are taking advantage of the space that has been left in the market,” says Nicolai Samsing, Wines of Chile’s Asia Director when asked by Vino Joy News about the country’s fast rise in China.
From last December to March this year, within just four months, Australian wine exports, were reduced to just AU$12 million compared to AU$325 million for the same period over a year ago. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: Wines from Chile are great value-for-money
It seems to me that there is no better value for money to be had in the wine world than the vinous products from Chile, overall. Compared to most other wine-producing areas, the quality is uniformly high, and the same quality of wine seems to cost quite a few pennies more elsewhere. Thus is a good situation for the wine consumer who likes Chilean wine.
am not the only person to have suggested this, of course. Recently, James Suckling has produced his 2021 reports on Chilean wines (A different Chile: greatness beckons, but is it a leap too far? ; A different Chile, Part 2: Embracing a shifting winescape); and so we could have a look at his scores for some evidence of uniformly high quality. READ MORE…
The Pour: This Summer, Make It Chianti Classico
Even in warmer weather, some occasions cry out for a red. This Tuscan wine is a gorgeous expression of sangiovese, with many excellent producers.
I’ve always resisted the notion that seasons alone dictate what’s best to drink. It’s the food at least as much as the weather.
The weather influences the weight and heft of what we cook and the sorts of ingredients that are available. The heavy stews and casseroles of winter give way to glorious salads and food cooked outdoors over coals. Even in the summer, certain dishes call out for reds, and the one I often want now is Chianti Classico.
Partly this is because I have a crush on the sangiovese grape, the crucial constituent of the wine. Sangiovese in its Chianti Classico form is a great match for steak, burgers, sausages and even grilled chicken. It has the depth to match their flavors, with enough acidity to refresh. And it takes nicely to a light chill — say, 20 minutes in the fridge or an ice bucket. READ MORE…
SOVOS/ShipCompliant: New Bipartisan Bill Could Lift Ban on USPS Alcohol Shipping
On May 18, 2021, congressional bi-partisan co-sponsors introduced the USPS Shipping Equity Act, a bill that would allow the Postal Service to ship beverage alcohol directly to consumers over the age of 21. If passed, the bill would lift a Prohibition-era ban that currently prevents the USPS from shipping wine and other alcohol directly to consumers.
This is not the first time such a bill has been introduced. In fact, it marks U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)’s fourth attempt to introduce such a bill in Congress. However, this bill is a bipartisan one, and an equivalent bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate as well.
The DtC wine market has been growing for years, becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry, with craft brewers and spirits producers also seeing a steady increase in demand. The DtC wine channel grew by an unprecedented 27% in 2020 over 2019, and as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many people to increase their use of e-commerce across the board, sales and shipping are top-of-mind for producers and consumers alike. READ MORE…
The Wine Economist: Invisible Pignolo Revealed
Pignolo: Cultivating the Invisible is quite a fantastic multi-media exploration of one of Italy’s (and the world’s) nearly forgotten grape varieties. My first impression of the book was fascination — so playful, so colorful. I just had to thumb through it to discover what was on the next page. Then there was puzzlement, because I would read short passages and it wasn’t really clear what was going on.
First fascination, then puzzlement, then — finally — enlightenment. Ok, that might be too strong, but I went back and read it from the start and it all made sense. READ MORE…
A Balanced Glass: Wine Travel, Revisited: Getting Back In The Post-COVID Game
It was the most anxiety I can remember experiencing. Like, ever.
Last weekend I was preparing for my first post-COVID international work trip, to Madrid and Valladolid in Spain. Anxiety crawled over my skin, creepier than goose flesh. I felt my heartbeat and the juiced-up pulse of it, unrelenting, for hours. I was emotionally conflicted; I wanted to go, then I didn’t want to go, back and forth and back and forth, in rapid, alternating succession.
It was a mess.
I’m not an anxious person. I enjoy travel, and I willingly accepted the invitation to speak at the conference in Spain this week. I also counted a very long list of obstacles getting in the way of a smooth journey, from QR codes registered with government-regulated apps on my phone, to COVID testing (on both sides of the ocean, in two different languages) within a short window ahead of travel, to a file folder of hard copy documentation, to long lines at the airport because it simply takes longer for agents to process passengers’ mandated COVID paperwork.
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Wine Enthusiast: Wine Enthusiast Companies Names New Presidents, Erika and Jacqueline Strum
Adam Strum, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Wine Enthusiast Companies, and Sybil Strum, Chief Brand Officer and Co-Founder, announced today the promotions of Erika Strum to President of Wine Enthusiast Commerce and Jacqueline Strum to President & Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Media. “Sybil and I announce these promotions with great pride and excitement,” said Adam. Adam remains in his current role as Chairman and CEO with Jacqueline and Erika reporting to him, while Sybil Strum remains Chief Branding Officer. Adam will also now be Editor and Publisher Emeritus of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. “We’re confident that the next generation of the Strum family, with their new and expanded responsibilities, will strengthen our organization’s leadership position in wine and spirits as media and commerce move ever faster into digital,” said Adam. READ MORE…
The Institute of Masters of Wine: Mags Jango wins the Golden Vines™ Masters of Wine Scholarship
Liquid Icons – the fine wine research and content production company founded by the late, great Gerard Basset OBE MW MS and his friend Lewis Chester DipWSET – are delighted to announce the recipients of 12 new scholarships for BAME/BIPOC wine students: The Golden Vines™ Masters of Wine Scholarship, the Golden Vines™ Master Sommelier Scholarship and the Golden Vines™ Wine Scholar Guild Scholarships.
The winners were chosen by the same judging panel that is responsible for awarding the Taylor’s Port Golden Vines™ Diversity Scholarships. The judging panel comprised: Nina Basset FIH, Rajat Parr (Sandhi Wines), Carlton McCoy MS (Lawrence Wine Estates), Clement Robert MS (The Birley Clubs / Annabel’s) and lead judge Jancis Robinson OBE MW. These 12 new scholarships are in addition to the two Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, the winners to be announced on 7 October at the Golden Vines™ Awards Ceremony. READ MORE…
Napa Valley Vintners: Wine Trade and Vintners Come Together to Invest in Napa’s Future at Premiere Napa Valley
St. Helena, CA – It was an incredible day for Napa Valley. Spirits were high and so were the paddles at this year’s Premiere Napa Valley. The auction opened to a jubilant crowd and a round of applause to celebrate being back together again.
The day proceeded under blue skies in front of the CIA at Greystone and simultaneously online with groups of bidders around the world holding their own gatherings. Some in Hong Kong began their bidding to cups of coffee at 4 a.m. while others in the UK stayed up past midnight to close out the auction. All together 3,700 bids were placed leading to $2.7 million raised by those hoping take home the unique wines produced for Premiere.
“We were blown away by the enthusiasm and generous support of our trade partners. It was the best possible way to come together again after being apart for so long. The support shown was deeply meaningful and is an extraordinary example of the shared sense of enthusiasm and optimism we all have for Napa Valley’s future. We are over the moon and couldn’t be more pleased,” said Linda Reiff, President and CEO of Napa Valley Vintners. READ MORE…
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History: Warren and Barbara Winiarski To Make $4 Million Bequest to Smithsonian Funding Permanent Position for Curator of Food and Wine History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced today a major bequest to establish a permanent position for a curator of food and wine history. The $4 million gift from Warren and Barbara Winiarski, and the Winiarski Family Foundation, of Napa, California, comes 25 years after the Winiarskis provided initial funding for the museum to launch a research and collecting initiative on the history of American wine and winemaking. That initiative has expanded to become the widely recognized “American Food History Project,” the museum’s dynamic, transdisciplinary program that, in concert with diverse audiences and partners, explores American history through the all-encompassing lens of food.
The new position will be known as the “Winiarski Curator of Food and Wine History” and will ensure the continuation of the museum’s robust research, collecting, exhibition and programming activities in food and beverage history.
“We are delighted and so very grateful to the Winiarskis for their vision of documenting the impact of viniculture and the evolution of American winemaking and accompanying food culture to ensure its central place in U.S. history,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “Their support over the decades and this generous bequest will sustain and enhance the nuanced and central place of food and wine history for the benefit of our many audiences.” READ MORE…
Wine Industry Network: 5th Annual Wine & Weed Symposium Opens Registration
After a hiatus in 2020, Wine Industry Network (WIN) is excited to announce that registration is open for the 5th Annual Wine & Weed Symposium, scheduled for August 5th, 2021 from 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa, CA. The full-day business-focused conference will explore the latest information surrounding the impact of legalized recreational cannabis on California’s wine industry.
The symposium will feature leaders from both the wine and cannabis sectors who will share their expertise on how the emerging cannabis industry can successfully coexist alongside wine, for the betterment of both industries. READ MORE…
BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!