Days of Wine and Roses is one film not to watch if you are melancholic by nature, as this tale of middle-class alcoholism rings very true. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are the besotted couple who find that life is not always fun when viewed through rosé-colored glasses.
Here's our take - it's Summer and a nice old movie mixed with a little wine could be just the thing for tonight.
You, or someone you love can soon be making your own super-swanky wine, at home, in your own personal super-swanky winery. Check out this uber-cool apparatus:
If you have a trust fund and dear old dad likes wine, and I mean really likes wine, here is the perfect father's day gift. The Winepod lets dad become his own winemaker with his own personal fermentation chamber.
The chamber itself is 4-feet tall and needs less than 4 square feet of space. The device has sensors and uses wireless technology to connect to a software application on a PC called the WineCoach. WineCoach walks users through the fermentation process and when it detects problems it tells users how to fix them.
Winepod can produce one fermentation every 30 days with each one producing four cases of wine with 48 750ml bottles total. Users can order the grapes directly from the Winepod maker and they are shipped de-stemmed and frozen for freshness. Users wanting to use their own grapes can get them lab certified to ensure fermentation. The Winepod itself is a whopping $4,499, add the bottling kit, grapes, and accessories and it will cost you $5999, thrown in a 30L French oak wine barrel and you will need $6349. (by Shane McGlaun)
Talk about wine appreciation reaching the masses. In Asia, a new graphic novel is introducing wine knowledge and interest to a whole new fan base. Check out this bit from the May 12 BusinessWeek:
In Asia, Comics Uncork A Wine Boom A graphic-novel series with an oenophile hero is whetting Asia's appetite for wine. Kami no Shizuku (The Drops of God), a Japanese manga comic written by a brother-sister team under the pen name Tadashi Agi, has sold 1.9 million copies in Japan, and wine distributors are harvesting the benefits. Japanese distributor Mercian even hired the series' illustrator to design a new label for some of its bottles of imported Beaujolais Nouveau. In 2007, Mercian sold 127,000 cases, with the manga-labeled bottles helping to boost sales by 18% from the year prior. Translations of the books are creating wine lovers elsewhere in Asia, too. In Taiwan, sales of Colli di Conegliano Rosso Contrada di Concenigo rose 30% after the wine, produced by Italy's Umberto Cosmo, was mentioned in one volume. And some Koreans use the series as a kind of wine guide. Now a bigger test awaits: In April, the comic books were launched (as Les Gouttes de Dieu) in France.
-Ian Rowley and Hiroko Tashiro in Tokyo
Content and image from Business Week
Here is a delectable little tidbit from the April 28 issue ofBusinessWeek:
Your Taste Buds Are In Your Wallet
Is that Rubicon Estate cabernet worth the $80 you may have paid? The answer lies within the folds of your medial prefrontal cortex. A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology concludes that when people know a wine is expensive, the pleasure they get from it is enhanced in the area of the brain where such sensations are processed. In the study, published online earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, students were placed in an MRI machine and given sips of red wine--including the same one presented twice, with two different price tags: $5 (the actual bottle price) and $45 (a fiction). The subjects all said they liked the "expensive" wine better--a preference mirrored by increased activity in their prefrontal cortexes. The lesson, says Baba Shiv, an associate professor of marketing at Stanford: "There's a temptation among marketers to keep reducing prices. We're saying be careful before you embark on that strategy." -Steve Hamm
Fascinating stuff. You're brain may be telling you that the more expensive one tastes better, but the fact is the $5 vino wins the day. All the more reason to buy cheap and taste blind! Content and image fromBusiness Week
In honor of Earth Day, I have been scouring all of my reference materials as well as a ridiculous number of online sources in search of a Reader's Digest condensation of the ins and outs of organic wines. The fact is, finding a good "organic" bottle has become a confusing and stressful affair as labeling and certification requirements have changed what wines are truly considered organic versus ones made from organic grapes or biodynamically farmed. Personally I prefer the latter two categories as they produce much more drinkable and durable wines. If you want a straightforward resource that marries relevant factual information with great advice, check out this primer fromThe Organic Wine Company:
What is Organic Wine?
Following the recent creation by the USDA of a National Organic Program, an organic wine is now defined as "a wine made from organically grown grapes and without any added sulfites". By this unfortunate restriction, the vast majority of what you and I have been calling organic wines must now be referred to as "wines made from organic grapes" (or organically grown grapes), as they are allowed to contain up to 100 ppm of added sulfites.
While we support the effort of some winemakers to explore avenues to eliminate the use of sulfur dioxide, the truth is that wines without added sulfites are very few in number and very unstable in quality, giving the public a negative perception of what an Organic wine can be! The wine industry has therefore the dubious honor of being the only one that cannot call its product "organic" even though it is made with more than 95% of organic components. [With the higher permissible level of 100ppm SO2 present in the wine, the percentage is still 99.99% organic!].
This is detrimental to the winegrowers who seek to market a consistently drinkable product and yet are discriminated against in an absolutely unprecedented way. It is also confusing to consumers and merchants alike who did not need more categories to confuse them! Moreover, a wine without sulfites should not be equated with an organic wine, since it is quite possible to make a sulfite-free wine with conventional (non organic) grapes.
The excessive attention given to this matter is perfect to distract the public from much more important issues like soil depletion and erosion, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, ecological impact, resistance to pests, chemical dependence, and product standardization to name just a few!
In all cases, however, an independent body of certification, itself duly accredited by the almighty USDA, has the responsibility to control each winegrower, once or twice a year, to verify his adherence to the standards for organic farming, now internationally recognized. The fundamental idea behind organic wine is that making wine from grapes grown without chemical fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides, and other synthetic chemicals is better both for the planet AND for the wine drinker because all of these things can damage the soil and the plant, and can end up in the wine as residue.
There is no doubt that growing under organic conditions protects the environment and the people that work in the vineyards from the adverse effects of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. Organic is more than simply a way of farming. It is also a philosophy. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said
"We did not inherit the Earth from our forefathers, we are borrowing it from our descendants."
How does Conventional Winemaking differ from Organic Winemaking?
In the cellar, "organic" suggests minimal processing and no use of chemical additives. Organic winemakers pay particular attention to three factors: the use of yeasts, the filtration/fining method, and the use of sulfur dioxide. The need for cultured yeasts in organic winemaking is reduced by the farming practice itself, for wild yeasts remain present, unperturbed by weed killers or insecticides. Therefore their use is limited to difficult weather conditions which would threaten the harvest. The physical treatment of the wine (like filtering and fining) is kept to a minimum. However temperature control during the winemaking process is widely used since it is only a physical process.
Minimizing the use of sulfur dioxide as an antioxidant is stringently observed. It's rather difficult to make a wine that will keep well without adding at least some additional sulfites to those naturally produced. This is particularly true of white wines, which ferment apart from grape skins. Red wines ferment with juice and skins together, providing them not only with their color but with various tannins, a natural preservative.
All of the wines imported by Organic Wine Company are "Certified Organic" by ECOCERT or BIOFRANC and contain only a minimal amount of sulfur dioxide.
After educating yourself, if you like what you read, check out theOrganic Wine Company wine club. As organic wine clubs go they are quite reasonable. You get three bottles (red only or mixed) for $49.99 per month.
Leave it to Springwise to find all of the truly fascinating business ventures in the world of wine. The latest buzz is from a French company called WineSide that has come up with an idea that might incite the next revolution--in wine, that is. They are marketing trial size tubes of wine which, in theory will make choosing just the right bottle a little less scary:
WineSide offers both sweet and classic wines in patented, flat-base glass tubes with screw tops carefully engineered to protect the wines' flavour. The sweet wines--which include Sauternes and Muscat, for example--are available in 6cl tubes, while the Pomerol, Chateau Neuf du Pape and other classic wines can be purchased in 6cl or 10cl sizes. WineSide's collection represents a range of appellations and producers; tubes are available individually or by the box, which can be chosen to provide an introduction to a variety, year or region. Kicking off retail sales, the products are available exclusively at Colette in Paris this month.
In addition to giving consumers a new way to sample and discover wines, WineSide's tube format also promises to give vintners new tryvertising capabilities at relatively low cost. The French company's website is still under construction, but it says it is looking for distributors.
Today I have been daydreaming. My new Food & Wine arrived and feeling a little bit of the Monday blahs, I poured over it . . . for hours. One of the tasty tidbits I uncovered was in the News & Notes section. Just a brief paragraph about wine travel and a company that specializes in wine "adventures," and since I haven't actually taken a vacation since my honeymoon, I just had to check out Zephyr Adventures for myself:
Wine country travel is extremely popular and for good reason. The beautiful scenery combined with excellent lodgings and restaurants makes for a great vacation. However, most visitors to wine areas spend more time on their rears than we like in a vacation, as they shuttle from hotel to winery to restaurant. We've added a whole new element to wine touring, as we stay active - on foot, bike, horseback, and canoe.
At the same time, these tours are as much about the wine as the activities. We have private wine tours, conversations with local vintners, exclusive walks through the vineyards, and other opportunities to intimately get to know the wines of the region.
You need be neither a strong athlete nor a wine expert to enjoy these adventures, as we have tailored them for almost all audiences. And you can't go wrong with the [following] seven wine regions, so pick your favorite and join us in 2008!
Burgundy WalkingJune 8-13, 2008 $2300 Oregon Multisport August 10-14, 2008 $1900 Sonoma Vineyard Walking August 24-28 and October 26-30, 2008 $1900
Spain Multisport September 7-13, 2008 $2600
Italy Hike & Bike September 26 - Oct 3, 2008 $2700
South Africa Hiking October 10-18, 2008 $3200
Chile & Argentina Multisport Novem. 8-15, 2008 $2700
All Adventures include double occupancy lodging, dinners, breakfasts, guides, van support, local transportation, a Zephyr souvenir, and a Pre-Departure Packet. Trekking Adventures also include most lunches but one dinner is often on your own. Most trips include instruction in the activities on that adventure. Equipment is included for some activities: mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding, and river rafting. Fromwww.zephyradventures.com
Though most of my travel incorporates some outdoor activity--and all of my travel includes wine tasting, I think this is an innovative and exciting way to really focus on both and to more fully experience a country or wine region. So, where shall I go next?
In our efforts to bring you the the latest buzz in the wine world, we have come across yet another swanky wine business that everyone can enjoy at home -- that is everyone willing to spend $120. Check out the Springwise article:
The busy vintners at Crushpad, an urban winery we've already discussed on two separate occasions, have given us reason to cover them yet again. Just before the holidays Crushpad introduced fusebox, a wine blending kit that lets users experience the wine-making process at home.
Crushpad's 15-pound fusebox was created to contain everything a group of four might need to explore how some of the world's greatest wines are blended: Six 375 mL bottles of blending wine from some of Napa's finest vineyards, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc; one 375 mL bottle of Mystery Wine; one graduated cylinder and 4 pipettes; four wine evaluation cards; four tasting place mats; recipe cards, a vinography aroma card and a corkscrew. Using the kit, wine enthusiasts can try to re-create classic Cabernet blends or invent their own; they can also test their discernment skills on the included Mystery Wine by playing the "Guess the Mystery Blend" online game at fuseboxwine.com. fusebox is priced at USD 120 and available for shipping only within the United States.
"Crushpad's mission is to turn consumers into creators," explains Michael Brill, CEO of San Francisco-based Crushpad. "Whether it's the multiyear experience of making a wine from vine to bottle or just spending a few hours with friends enjoying a blending session with fusebox, we want to give individuals the opportunity to experience the fun and sense of creative expression that comes from making wine."
Crushpad has always specialized in helping enthusiasts understand and make their own wines, providing desirable status skills along the way. Crushpad is in the very early phases of signing up fusebox retailers and distributors.
Not for the budget-minded wine consumer, we just came across a stunning new wine venue in the big apple that marries technology with vino-culture. Adour at the St. Regis Hotel is a bit of a splurge for everyday wine folk, but I suspect we'll be seeing low-tech variations of this as other wine bars and restaurants recognize the value in educating--and entertaining--their consumers.
Ubiquitous computing is a trend that's oft discussed and less frequently seen, but a shining new example just opened in New York City's luxurious St. Regis Hotel. A restaurant called Adour now features a technology-driven, interactive wine bar that lets guests explore for themselves the wide variety of wines available.
While the decor of the 72-seat restaurant features hues reminiscent of burgundy and chardonnay, Adour's 4-seat wine bar is constructed from gold and bronze and covered in luxurious goat skin. Built-in interactive technology from Potion Designs helps patrons choose a wine by allowing them to browse Adour's complete wine list by wine type, country and varietal. Computer menus are projected from the ceiling onto the bar, and patrons make their choices by pressing on the bar's surface.
The first menu, for example, prompts guests to choose from a list of selections including By the Glass, By the Decanter, Sparkling Wines, Red Wines, White Wines, etc. Additional choices follow from there, including lists of countries, regions and wines. When a guest selects a particular wine, a rosette-shaped image is projected with information about the wine on each of its five petals, including details about the producer and the grapes. Adour's Wine Director manages the wine list using a custom-designed content management system and can update the interactive bar daily or for special occasions. Adding a personal touch to its high-end experience, Adour also offers temperature-controlled, private wine vaults in its 12-seat private dining room to give guests a way to store their very own wine collection.
Besides being an upscale novelty, Adour's interactive bar feeds modern consumers' apparently insatiable infolust with relevant information, and it incorporates that information into the real-world dining experience. It also educates consumers about wines, providing them with key status skills that (they hope) will elevate them above the rest of the crowd. All that and a highly engaging experience too! Mark our words: There's more of this to come...