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THE GAME:  Go Colts!

The venerable Dr. Vino, or Tyler as his friends call him,  had a post on his site on Wednesday morning that gives something of a primer on betting lines and the moneyline in the world of wagering.  Dr. Vino’s post is a precursor to THE GAME.

THE GAME, of course, is Super Bowl XLI—the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Chicago Bears. 

Of course, our hometown team here at Good Grape is the Colts and they are favored by a touchdown.  Dr. Vino is, naturally, a Bears fan, a Chicago transplant living in New York, but still occasionally teaching in Chicago. 

The gist of the deal with a moneyline is if your team is the underdog (just ‘dog to be hip with the slang) it lets you make a bet straight up and increase your potential winnings, as opposed to taking a betting line that gives you the benefit of a point spread. 

So, for example, if Notre Dame is a 9 point underdog in the Sugar Bowl and you really think they are going to win, than a $100 dollar bet would pay off at $325.  Pretty good.  But, if they lose within nine points then you might wish you had the point spread because your bet is a loser.  Not that I know anything about the moneyline or anything.  I certainly don’t know anything about a winning moneyline, being a Notre Dame fan and all. 

Tyler and I exchanged an email engineering, in the vein of the Governor’s from our respective states, a friendly little exchange.

Though, it will hardly be as glamorous as the food exchange that’s going to go down between Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels (nicknamed “The Blade” by President Bush when he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget in ’01 – ’03 for his desire to cut social services, rankling Dems along the way) and Gov. Rod Blagojevich from Illinois.  Gov. Daniels was wagered caramels and chocolates from Abbott’s Candy, organic cheeses from Traderspoint Creamery, a 15 bean soup pot from N.K. Hurst and shrimp cocktail from the legendary St. Elmo Steak House.  Daniels, it should be noted, doesn’t appear to be using the corn pone Midwest hick drawl that won him office these days.  Not that I keep track of such things. Blagojevich has staked his wager to Lou Malnatis’ deep dish pizza, Eli’s cheesecake and a some assorted treats from the Illinois Nut and Candy shop. 

Incidentally and ironically, when the Colts beat the pants off the Baltimore Ravens, they used the facilities at the non profit that I volunteer at to cook up a bunch of crab cakes.  So, these things really do get done beyond lip service. 

And, it is going to get paid off for ol’ Jeffro, too.  Because I don’t think the Colts are going to lose.  This is Peyton’s year—Peyton with the laser rocket arm.

In the event that I do lose, I have offered Tyler the wine moneyline on the game.  In lieu of points, I’ve offered to double the value of our exchange.  I’ll send him at least $50 worth of wine in the event that the Colts lose and he’ll pick up the tab on a $25 bottle next time I’m in NYC if the Colts are victorious.  I’ve offered a 2000 Franciscan Magnificat Meritage blend (a nice bottle in the $45 - $55 range) and a bottle of the Kickin’ Ass Colts Cuvee from Cherry Hill Winery in Oregon.  I wrote about them a week or so ago in a post that can be found here

Tyler is a good sport and one thing I can be certain of is his wine will be tasty in victory!  Go Colts! 

UPDATE:  The interesting, though less material, portion of my prize offering is the Kickin’ Ass Colts Cuvee—something of an Indianapolis Colts specific vino made by an Indiana native at an Oregon winery.  Dr. Vino, to his credit, went to some lengths to try and find something that was akin to a Bear.  And, he’s gracious enough to not get me four bottles of Toasted Head with the bear on the label.  But, even better for me, I get to pick something out from Crush Wine & Spirits that falls in line with the moneyline spirit.  I trust his palate, so I may want to take a recommendation, but I’m also inclined to snatch up another bottle of the 2000 Tulocay Zinfandel to add to the two I bought last week from Crush and the one bottle that I’ve already polished off.  It’s good stuff.  And, to make matters more interesting, I do need to divulge that I grew up about an 1.5 hours away from Chicago and grew up a Bears fan.  The Super Bowl Shuffle Bears are a fond memory, but I’m now a Chicago turncoat having converted to the Blue Nation years ago by virtue of zip code.  Do the Blue.  Make it Personal.  Go Colts. 


Do Vintage Charts Matter?

We celebrated our 1st birthday at Good Grape last week and as I reviewed virtually everything I wrote over the course of the 12 months it gave me pause to look at some of the things I was proud of and a lot of the things that I wasn’t as proud of.

It was a year of wine growth for me, akin to that awkward year when you go from adolescence to puberty—all scratchy voice, pimply face and gangly coordination.  I learned a lot along the way, mostly by questioning things, but answering with my own authoritative and contrarian voice.  As the saying goes, frequently wrong, but never in doubt.

And, there are still a lot of wine related things I’m uncertain of and one of the things that I’d like to get better at is the interactive nature that makes blogs the powerful conversational tool that they are.

As a juxtaposition to that blog interaction and immediacy, if you’ve ever worked for a really large company and ever sat in a very senior management meeting then you know and understand that the people in the room, while in the grasp contextually of dynamics and some information, are so far removed from the actual mechanics of a situation that it renders any real analysis null and void and especially null and void to make a concrete decision based on facts. 

This leads me to vintage charts.  I have very mixed feelings on wine vintage charts.

As I was reading along in the subscriber only section portion of Wine Spectator online and looking at their exhaustive vintage charts, I asked myself if these really matter.

Let me offer a brief aside and say that I would provide an example of the WS Vintage Chart here, but, unfortunately the WS terms and agreements that I agreed to when I forked over my $49.95 for a year’s digital subscription prohibit me from, in their words:

You may not republish any portion of the Content in print or electronic media including but not limited to, any Internet, Intranet or extranet site. You may not incorporate the Content in any database, compilation, archive or cache. You may not distribute or participate in the distribution of any Content to others, whether or not for payment or other consideration, and you may not modify, copy, frame, cache, reproduce, sell, publish, transmit, display or otherwise use any portion of the Content. You may not scrape, cut and paste or otherwise copy our Content without permission.

Ahem.  If this were in print the question begs to be asked whether I could actually provide my already read copy to a friend to read, based on their ownership of ALL the intellectual property.  But, I digress.

Do vintage charts matter in the sense that they provide any usefulness to people to make purchase decisions?  Clearly, somebody spends time on putting these things together—not just at Wine Spectator, but elsewhere and certainly many journalists preface their introductions to the wines they taste with flowery descriptions of what a good year it was in such and such locale.

I reviewed the 41 vintage charts that Wine Spectator provides and they are all perfunctory in the information presented.  Does it matter that the Chilean ’04 vintage is rated an 88 overall?  Does it matter that you can “Drink or Hold?” Does it matter that there was a:

“Cool start to growing season with warm finish, then harvest split by rains: Carmenère suffered while later-ripening Cabernet strong; whites harvested in excellent shape.” 

In contrast, does it matter that the 2003 was rated a 91 and you can “Drink or Hold.” Does it matter that there was a:

“Cool start followed by a long season of warm days and cool nights; wines show power and structure from all major valleys.”

I just don’t see how and why this is important?  If I’m in a store buying a bottle does any of this matter, particularly because I probably don’t have this information with me. 

Somebody help me understand what I am missing.  Aside from French and Italian wines and Napa Cabernet, I just don’t see how these pithy vintage charts matter much.  And, even for French, Italian and Napa Cabernet I still don’t see how a 100,000 foot view of ’02 versus a ’03 is going to matter much.

Please convince me otherwise, tell me I’m a fool and naïve and a lot of other things. Leave a comment.


Interesting Wine Marketing Idea #59

A couple of things have hit me as a rejoinder to a post last week where I referenced a site that only gives wine rating points for the wine wonks among us.  Just points.  It’s a 94.  Or, it’s an 89.  That’s it.  No notes, no descriptions, just wine porn for the action-oriented.  Foreplay via flowery descriptions need not apply.  But, I guess now, we also have the exact opposite—wine and wine information to address those that like the soft touch of a gentle wine lover.

Mark at Uncorked references an article in Brand Week (and give Brandweek a double shameful whammy for the grimace inducing, cliché -invoking headline, “Design:  Old Wine, New Bottles:  Who Will Swallow It?”) from a week ago that reviews Amazing Food Wine Co. from New York that, according the article:

“… Takes the guesswork out of pairing wine with food.  Thus, Wine That Loves Pizza, Wine That Loves Pasta, Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken.”

Here’s where the article becomes particularly interesting:

WTL (Wine That Loves) is another example of the trend of introducing the masses to experiences typically reserved for the wealthy.  In this case, the job of the white-table cloth sommelier is done for you.

Um … okay.  Last I checked, though, anybody, read:  ANYBODY that is interested in a wine and food pairing probably has the resources to go to a white table cloth restaurant at least two to three times a year—birthday, anniversary and Valentine’s Day seem like notable dining occasions for even the most parsimonious.

But, more interestingly, as Mark at Uncorked points out, the wines DO NOT carry a wine year, varietal or any regional information.  But, they will carry information for a flavor intensity, tannins and acidity.

Why in the world would you not put the grape variety on there, but put the tannins?

Also, in a nod to the marketers, because this is a BrandWeek article, they note that consumers will take to the wine in a self-actualizing way and say, “Wine That Loves to Get Me Drunk,” etc.


In a separate but related note, maybe high-end wine lovers and those that consider themselves wine consumers, but aren’t obsessive (unlike the wine blogosphere) give too little credit to our wine drinking brethren downstream. Maybe they will be down with this program. Case in point: when I was in Napa recently, I tried to secure some Les Mistral for a professional acquaintance of mine—he and his wife enjoy wine and in particular they love the Les Mistral from Joseph Phelps.  He couldn’t find it in our local market and, thus, I thought I’d try to help out and get some from the winery.

Come to find out that the current vintage (’04) is gone—no more left and the next vintage (’05) is due for release in May.  Well, in explaining that there was no wine available of the current vintage (a $30 bottle) to my professional acquaintance friend, he said, “Hmm … I didn’t know they ran out” as if it were a box of macaroni and cheese.

So, there you have it.  Maybe there is a market for “Wine That Loves Grocery Store Rotisserie Chicken” and “Wine That Loves Bagged Pasta Dinners.”  There are a lot of people out there that buy wine that know next to nothing about it except that it tastes good. 

We should send a memo to the fun and irreverent wine review blog, Neil Drinks Wine.  Surely, he’ll want to start working on his pop culture references to review these wines.  Though, he actually drinks some decent vino, his reviews smack you upside the head like a bottle of “Wine That Goes With Sorority Girls at a Six Kegger.”  In this regard, he might help prime the pump for getting some of the target market for “Wine That Loves Hamburger Helper” into a deeper wine experience. 


Marketing Wine To Millennials

While tasting at yesterday’s Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) Festival, I came across an interesting new brand that is targeting their wine squarely at the Millennial Generation. Muse Winery has launched this wine as “Mingle” and not the more expected “Zinfandel” because the Millennial buyer is looking for different wine taste experiences and is more tolerant of unconventional blends than their Baby Boom parents. Mingle delivers on the different blend front with Zinfandel being joined by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the more common Petite Sirah and Carignan. The result is quite nice with forward black cherry fruit, a touch of black pepper and smooth tannins. I rated it a very good 86 on the 100-point scale. It’s not just the wine, but also the packaging, that will appeal with this demographic as Muse has created a colorful label, unconventional bottle shape and “Peel, Pop and Pour” cork closure last seen on inexpensive sherry and port.

For readers not familiar with the Millennial Generation, I’ll back up and give you some background. Born between 1979 and 2002, Millennials follow GenX and The Baby Boom in the generations since WWII. Now coming of drinking age in large numbers—they are 100 million strong in total—this generation is the first to get into wine in a big way since their parents Baby Boom cohort. Unlike their parents, they are not looking for status wines or cellaring, preferring instant gratification. Wine should be unpretentious and just good to drink with Millennials who also look for food friendly wines. They are also squarely in the value category from a price perspective with the sweet spot being between $10 and $15 USD a bottle.

From a marketing perspective, Millennials present several opportunities for wineries. Since they are really just looking for a pleasant beverage for enjoying with food, scores and awards are not important. This means no brand building in the pages of Wine Spectator, Decanter or Wine Enthusiast magazines. Millennials are also the most wired generation, never knowing a time without the internet. This presents the wine marketer with the opportunity to market online and add social media to the mix. I’m currently working with a consulting client on launching a brand to this generation and a My Space presence and podcast are key elements of our marketing plan. We are also spending time on simple, colorful and attractive labels, unique bottles and Stelvin twist-off closures.

So it’s not business as usual selling wine to Millennials but it is pushing the state of the art for wine marketing forward. Anything that compels wineries to embrace blogs, podcasts and online communities is alright with me.

Until next week, cheers.

Tim Elliott


Wine Blogging Wednesday #30 on February 7th

A momentous occasion and an opportunity for me to make amends for having missed Wine Blogging Wednesday # 29 that took place just two weeks ago.

Tim at Winecast is hosting the February edition and the vino is a new world Syrah/Shiraz.

On an ironic note, the Wine Blogging Wednesday sneaks up quickly this time around because Tim and Lenn from Lenndevours, the original founder, decided to do it early as opposed to late because two of February’s Wednesdays fall on Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday.

Now, as a lapsed Catholic of mythic proportions, and a by-product of 12 years of Catholic schooling, I can say with every ounce of authenticity that I can muster that drinking red wine on Ash Wednesday would be a good thing indeed—and a step up from sacramental wine. 

And, in fact, the more red wine you drink on Valentine’s Day, the better.  Though, I doubt too many spouses would be tolerant of a lot of computer face-time on Valentine’s Day, sacrificing some good quality couple time.

Nonetheless, February 7th is the date.  See you there with an excellent Syrah!


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