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All The News That’s Fit To Spit

By Charles Olken

I will admit it. I am news junkie. I love political news and sports news, world news and local news. I have even been known from time to time to read the local police news in the free weekly rag. And, of course, I am a wine news junkie of the first order. Every day, I get three summaries of wine news in my email inbox, and while I do not click through to each and every story, I do read most of them. And most of the time they are informative and help frame my world in one way or another.

But not today. This was a red letter day for articles that were not news. In case you missed them, here is a sampling together with my most earnest comments.

Wine’s Caste System—Or Hippie Love

I was surely expecting a treatise on the wines that were popular during the Summer of Love here in San Francisco. I remember it vividly as one of the most creative, happy times in this crazy city. But I also remember that the tipples of choice were Mateus and Lancers, and I expected an article that told us to go back to drinking wines that made us happy, wines that made us sad and the wines that mother gave us that did nothing at all. But, no, Alice, despite its inveigling title to one who was there, this was no Scarborough Fair article. It was all about “natural wine” and terroir. I am left wondering if I can sue Palate Press for premature declaration.

Where Do Master Sommeliers Actually Work?

On Monday, The Hosemaster of Wine, so named because he was so adept at pulling hoses in his days as cellar rat, identified a six types of wine folks to avoid, and named Master Sommeliers (MSs for short) working for large corporations as one of them. While I am not sure that MSs in big wine biz are any more or less reputable or disreputable than MSs anywhere else, that’s satire for you, and The Hosemaster certainly knows more about that wine topic than most of the rest of winetypists combined.

Still, it is not the Hosemaster’s news that caught my eager eye this A. of M., it was Steve Heimoff’s blog that went in search of the answer: where do MSs actually work? Turns out that some work for big wine and some don’t. It turns out that some are actually sommeliers and some are not. Steve’s final defense of this diversity: they have to make a living, after all.

Storytelling is the New Marketing: Five Lessons for Wine Brands Shifting Toward Narrative

Steve Eliot, with whom I share this platform for mirth, merriment and truth, kind of put the “storytelling” meme to bed the other day. Or at least I thought he did. But, no, it is back in the form of advice from a cork manufacturer. OK, I get it. Anything to get the attention of the wineries, but here is a piece of advice to you, Corky. Your corks are not as free of TCA, that demon that used to destroy about five per cent of all wines and now only harms something on the order of one to two per cent. It is an old piece of political advice: if you do not like the narrative in front of you, change the story. Oh wait, you already have.

Wine Needs Pliny The Younger

Pliny The Younger, for those who do not know, is beer. It is the once-a-year, sold only at the brewery, lighter version of Pliny The Elder. I know about as much about beer as my neighbors know about wine. The buy it; they drink it; they like it, but they only drink fancy wine when I am the supplier. Otherwise, a good $20 bottle is about their speed.

Pliny The Elder is good beer, and so, I am sure is Pliny The Younger, but I will never know because one has to stand in line at the brewery for hours to get a pint. Scarcity never thrills me. Standing in line for hours is just not in my game plan—even when you can get this cult brew for $4.75. As Blake Gray, the author of the article points out, that is a lot less expensive than Screaming Eagle.

So, Blake has a solution. Why does not Screaming Eagle or Domaine Romanee-Conti or Chateau Petrus put make its precious brew available for $4.75 for a glass? That would be about $25 for a bottle. Okay, I like the populist approach, and I am sadly aware that I will almost never again come face to face with a bottle of one of those thousand-dollar wines again lest I discover a long lost rich uncle. Yes, we could afford them during the Summer of Love, but we were too young, too stoned, too stupid to realize that they might actually be better than Lancers.

On the whole, it has not been a good day for the wine news.


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by Pat F
Posted on:2/12/2015 3:01:35 PM

Pliny the younger is actually "heavyer" than Pliny the elder. Both are great though and truly local treasures!

What the dormouse said
by Christian Miller
Posted on:2/12/2015 7:20:12 PM

"I expected an article that told us to go back to drinking wines that made us happy, wines that made us sad and the wines that mother gave us that did nothing at all." Hah, this quote made my day. Now there's advice for a master sommelier!

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