Blog Entries Tagged as wine

Wine 101

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: wine

One topic that we continue to cover is wine education as it relates to the changing tastes of consumers.  

Comedians often joke about the protocol for ordering wine at a restaurant. A diner might pretend to know what exactly they are looking at when skimming a book of wines from around the world—which to most means very little—and then just narrowing down the choices solely by how much they’d like to spend and whether the company at the table prefers red or white. Then there is the ritual of tasting the wine at the table and the presentation of the bottle. How do you know if a wine has turned for the worse? And is it really okay to send a wine back if you are not happy with it, bad or not?

I recently attended the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) and sat in on an interesting discussion in the “Speaker’s Corner” led by Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks report called, “10 Things You Probably Don’t Know about the U.K. Drinks Market.” The talk took a holistic view of the key trends and tipping points across beer and spirits as well as wine with results based on primary consumer research, market data and independent analysis.

There were many interesting facts and figures that Wilson shared; he pointed out to the audience that many consumers confuse grape varieties with wine regions. While this is a U.K.-specific tidbit, I suspect the same would hold true in the United States. Wilson suggests that there needs to be more education done not only by the producers and distributors of wine, but also by the retailers where there is a cohesive approach to what is being advertised and then how consumers find that advertised wine.

Even I found myself confused over the characteristics of grape varieties at a recent wine tasting held at Suze in London’s Mayfair. The restaurant holds wine tastings for groups led by ThirtyFifty, a company that offers tasting and education events to demystify wines and help consumers get more out of their wine drinking experience.

That evening we tasted six wines (some blind, to see if we could identify the grape or region in which the wine was from) including wines from France, Argentina, California, Italy, Australia and Chile. I was surprised by the overall knowledge of the group of 10 women who were able to pinpoint where the wine was from. Though no one got every one correct, the group faired well, using the cheat-sheet that was provided.

The class also consisted of using our sense of smell to try and identify fruit essences. (I proudly was the only one who distinguished raspberry.) But my wine knowledge wasn’t as impressive I have to admit, and I learned how not all wines fall into their stereotype. While there are general characteristics of a particular grape, Zinfandel for example, that isn’t a definitive box.

My favorite wine of the night was St. Hallett Garden of Eden Shiraz Barossa Australia, 2010. All of the wines we sampled were under £13 (about US$20) with the least expensive being £7.49.

The industry continues to work on wine education, but there is still a lot to be done. But as the millennial consumer experiments more with different wines, the entry-level courses are sure to become a bit more advanced.

Sex Appeal

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: wine

In the April issue of Beverage World you might recall a story on emerging wine markets that I wrote. Among the markets mentioned was Portugal, a country that is becoming more widely recognized for its variety of wines that are specifically crafted with food in mind.

Last month, I attended a Wines of Portugal event at the Paramount—one of London’s premier spots to enjoy a cocktail wile also getting to enjoy a 360-degree view of the city.

The afternoon was an opportunity to sample a selection of the “50 Greatest Portuguese Wines” chosen by Olly Smith, a British television presenter, wine expert and foodie and writer who appears regularly on BBC1’s “Saturday Kitchen.”

The theme of this year’s event was “Great Value.”

Smith writes: “Portuguese wines are a treasure trove of undiscovered gems. ‘Great Value’ is my theme for this year’s ‘50 Great’ and there’s never been a better time to explore the excitement of Portugal’s outstanding flavors across their vineyards.”

There are 250 grape varietals in Portugal that are grown in diverse microclimates resulting in a wide range of wines. Because the wines are so food-friendly, Smith also grouped his selections by cuisine—sushi and sashimi, seafood, roast lamb, barbecue and dark chocolate.

There wasn’t enough time to sample all 50, but the ones that I did get to sip really showed the wide range of wines available from the country—all priced reasonably, between £7 to £30, demonstrating great value for the quality.

FP, 2012 produced by winemaker Filipa Pato from the Bairrada region was among my favorites. It was light, fresh and flavorful without being too powerful. Another fwas Beyra Quartz, 2011 by Rui Roboredo Madeira, which reminded me of summer in a glass and dining al fresco.

Winemaker Francisco Figueiredo was present and sampling his Arenae, 2010 from the Lisboa region, one of the smallest D.O.Cs in Portugal right by the ocean. Producing only 12,000 to 15,000 liters of this wine a year, the winery uses a smaller bottle (half-liter) to have more to sell, Figueiredo told me. Retailing for £9 this wine was quite different from the rest, getting its salty flavor from the ocean. The perfect food pairing for this wine, according to the winemaker—oysters.

One of the bolder labels of the 50 was a wine from Fita Preta Vinhos—a red wine with a bright pink, almost metallic label called Sexy. Offensive? Maybe, but Nuno Maçanita, who was there representing the wine, said it’s the best-selling wine in the winery’s portfolio. Now being imported to the U.S., Sexy retails for £13 (about $20) and is described by Smith as “fruit-driven” and a “wine that’s made ready to drink.” If it brings attention to Portuguese wines or the region, Alentejo, then who can argue?

Though Portugal is known for blending its wines, there were some single varietals among the 50. Two I sampled were Casa Cadaval Trincadeira Vinhas Velhas, 2009 from the Tejo region made with 100 percent Trincadeira grapes and Julia Kemper Touriga Nacional, 2009 from the Dão region made from Touriga Nacional grapes. Both wineries have very small production runs making them that much more special.

But no matter what your personal preference, there was great wine for a good value in a great location—There’s not much sexier than that.

Let the Games Begin: BevStar 2013 Call for Entries

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: wine

With the dawn of a new year comes a new chance for your brand to shine. Whether you're playing in the alcohol or non-alcohol space (or both even), you are cordially invited to submit your product to our third-annual BevStar Awards competition. It's our annual celebration of innovation across all of the major beverage categories. And the best part? It's absolutely free to enter, aside from whatever shipping costs you need to incur to get a sample of your product to our judging team.

Since this is about innovation, we ask that your product be new(ish). That means it should have been launched no earlier than Sept. 2011. If it hasn't been launched yet, that's fine. As long as you've got a product, a package and a plan to roll it out before summer 2013, it's eligible. (The product has to exist. Ideation is great, but execution is critical.)

Once again, we'll be awarding gold, silver and bronze awards in the following categories:

• Carbonated Soft Drinks

• Water/Enhanced Water

• Functional Beverages (including sports drinks, but not including energy drinks—those get their own category. We got a ton of energy entries last year.)

• Energy Drinks

• Beer

• Mead, Cider and Sake

• Wine

• Spirits

• Ready-to-Drink Tea & Coffee

We'll also present special achievement awards for marketing innovation, social media initiatives and environmental sustainability.

To enter, please e-mail the following to bevstar@beverageworld.com :

1. Product Name

2. Parent Company Name

3. Contact Info (address, phone & e-mail)

4. High-resolution product image

5. A brief description of the product and why you believe it should win a BevStar award.

6. The names of any packaging, label design, ingredient and branding companies or individuals that helped develop or market your product.

If your product passes the written test, we'll send you instructions on where to ship product samples for the practical test. We ask that you limit the samples to one bottle/can/carton/etc. per product entered.

Keep in mind, tasting is only one component of our selection process. Your product has to offer the whole package, which includes, well, the package and its overall market positioning.

The submission deadline is March 1. Winners will be notified by June 1 and we'll showcase winning products in the July 2013 issue of Beverage World.

If you've got any questions you can e-mail me directly.

We're looking forward to your entries!

 

 

 

 

BevStar Awards 2012: We Finally Have Our Winners!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: wine

After a lengthy judging process involving a record number of entries this year and a self-imposed media blackout until the official winners' issue started arriving this week, we are very pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Beverage World BevStar Awards. For those just joining us, the BevStars recognize new product innovation across all of the major beverage categories.

We received a particularly robust shower of entries in the Energy & Functional category—so many that we decided to split it into two separate categories this year. It really reflects the level of innovation in those segments. If you recall from our 2012 State of the Industry report, energy drink volume returned to double-digit growth last year, with an increase of more than 17 percent in 2011, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Without further ado, here's the list of this year's winners. For details on all of these brands, read the July 2012 issue of Beverage World. Congratulations to all!

BEST IN SHOW
Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

BEER
Gold: Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Silver: Deviant Dale's IPA, Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
Bronze: Bronx Pale Ale, The Bronx Brewery

BOTTLED WATER
Gold: MyCause Water, Panacea Beverage Co.
Silver: Elevate Enhanced Fiber Water, 912 Corp.
Bronze: Karma Wellness Water, Karma Kulture LLC

CARBONATED SOFT DRINKS
Gold: Spindrift, Spindrift Soda co.
Silver: Dr Pepper Ten, Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Bronze: HotLips Cranberry Soda, HotLips Soda Co.

ENERGY
Gold: Monster Rehab, Monster Beverage Co.
Silver: Slap Frozen Energy, Brain-Twist
Bronze: Berry Rain, RevHoney

FUNCTIONAL
Gold: Neuro Sun, Neuro Beverage
Silver: Ralph & Charlie's Aloe, Ralph & Charlie's Beverage Co.
Bronze: Modjo Hydrate Elite, Cellutions

READY-TO-DRINK TEA & COFFEE
Gold: Honest (Not Too) Sweet Tea, Honest Tea
Silver: RealBeanz, RealBeanz LLC
Bronze: Tao of Tea, The Tao of Tea

SPIRITS
Gold: Purgatory Vodka, Alaska Distillery
Silver: Apple Pie Moonshine, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
Bronze: BuzzBallz, BuzzBallz LLC

WINE
Gold: FlasqWines, JT Wines
Silver: Blanc de Bleu, Premium Vintage Cellars
Bronze: Xavier Flouret La Pilar Malbec, Cognac One LLC

For those brands that entered but didn't take a gold, silver or bronze in any of the categories, don't fret. Competition was particularly stiff this year and the decisions were all very difficult for all of us on the judging panel. And there's always next year. We'll be announcing a call for entries some time in December.
 

Laugh Along Even Though They’re Laughing at You

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: wine

So, a couple of interesting events occurred this week and in an odd sort of way, they’re spiritually related. In New York, I got to see one of my favorite bands that had been on hiatus for the better part of a decade and hadn’t played in the city since 1998. The band is the Britpop combo Pulp, of whose most famous song I was reminded when I attended the second event, a wine festival in a Western U.S. city billed as a “Rock & Roll” wine event (complete with a performance from another band that peaked in the ’90s but whose return was far less triumphant than the aforementioned band from Sheffield, England. (Basically a glorified one-hit wonder, maybe a one-and-a-half-hit wonder if I’m feeling generous).

The song the latter event evoked was “Common People,” basically about a wealthy, bourgeois art student who cluelessly and patronizingly says she wants to live like the common folk. It’s completely lost on her why such a thing is not possible for someone whose rich dad is always a phone call away to bail her out.

What does that have to do with wine? Well, it wasn’t so much the drink itself, but the very forced nature of the tasting festival. It tried to hit attendees over the head with the fact that it was a “rock & roll” event, as if to say, “See, wine understands the common people.” (The cheap plastic tasting cups didn’t help matters. They just came off as tacky).

I’m not saying wine isn’t as flexible a beverage as beer, as far as consumption occasions are concerned. Quite the contrary. But I almost got the sense that the organizers were so self conscious about the—often misguided—perception of wine as a drink that encourages snobbery that they overcompensated by desperately trying to connect with everyday folk by producing a transparently artificial, raucous, rockin’ time. It’s like a multimillionaire buying a Chevy Cavalier in an attempt to “keep it real,” but driving it home to a personal car elevator.

Wine’s a great beverage and has every right to go after traditional beer occasions, just as beer has done with what had been historically perceived as wine occasions. But when it tries too hard, it just comes off as disingenuous and a little desperate.