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Field Notes from a Wine Life – President’s Day Edition

More assorted miscellaneous items from a wine life …

The Court of Master Sommeliers

I caught up with Arthur Black, an Indianapolis-based Master Sommelier candidate, who I profiled last summer, to see how he felt about his preparation for his test this week in California.

Yes, Healdsburg, The Hotel Healdsburg to be exact, is the epicenter of wine knowledge this week with a collection of Master Sommeliers and an oversubscribed class full of Master Sommelier candidates attempting to pass the toughest of wine tests.

I have a great deal of respect, an insane amount of respect, for Master Sommeliers.  The amount of knowledge and the level of palate-tuning that is necessary to pass is hard to describe in practical terms.  I have heard analogies to becoming a CPA, passing the Bar, and passing your Boards if you are a doctor.  Within the realm of commitment and expertise required, I think they can be equated in the same breath.

Do you want to blind taste six wines and then, within twenty-five minutes, identify the grape varietal, country of origin, district of origin and the vintage?

For six wines!  With all of the worlds grape-growing regions as your draw pool.

Me neither.

A doctor does not practice medicine with one of his senses taken away – sight, touch, smell, etc.  I would like to see a doctor exert expertise without seeing a patient to view primary indicators …

Arthur actually has a five-month reprieve on this career-making test as the Court of Master Sommeliers has 77 people sitting for the Master Sommelier certification this year—the most in 30 years and up from 44 candidates last year.  So, Arthur gets more study time and more time to let the test get into his head before he takes the weeklong exam in Cincinnati in July for first time candidates.

My best wishes to Arthur in his continued preparation and the rest of the candidates who are testing this week, as well.

The Wine Whore

I ran across this press release and, while I should not validate it with a link, I will.  I am highlighting it because it is an egregious affront to my sensibility.  I guess wine blogging has gotten into my blood enough where I have a paternal sense of right and wrong.  The name of the blog is Wine Whore and that about says it all, and the press release is complete with typos, too.  I guess if you are going to be a wine whore for samples, you cannot be bothered to spell-check, either.  I feel like Cousin Eddie moved into my neighborhood and put a car up on blocks in his front yard. Shame on this guy.

The Sommelier of Marketing

On a positive note, I ran across a blog that is tailor made for me – what do I like?  I like wine and I like marketing.  Therefore, I present to you The Sommelier of Marketing who mixes up wine and marketing topics.  The author is a principle in Catalyst: SF, a strategic marketing firm that works with early-stage ventures.

He is still getting his blog voice pulled together, but he blogs much in the same way that my brother does with his blog, The Interactive Marketer – by pointing to interesting and relevant items from the larger realm and then driving home a point to niche specificity.  Check out The Sommelier of Marketing if you are interested in the world of marketing and wine.

Southern Wine & Spirits

Indiana is a state that is short on distributors.  I think we have somewhere in between seven to nine distributors that have a wine portfolio.  Compare this to even Minnesota which has upwards of 60 and you see the stark difference in between the amount of wine we have on our shelves and a state like California or New York, let alone Minnesota.

I am practical about it because in free market economics if there were a greater market for wine distributors in the state via consumer demand and retail shelf space, there would be distributors to fill the void.  However, that does not mean I do not want for more choice.

Well, choice is coming in the form of Southern Wine & Spirits.  They are currently fighting a statute that requires a distributor doing business in the state to reside in the state. Reports indicate it will likely and easily be overturned – the analogy being that a regular business does not have be headquartered in the state in order to do business in the state – think home office versus field office for any company; therefore the same should logically be applied to liquor and wine distribution.

There will be some shake-up in the market, particularly for smaller distributors who may have a big piece of their portfolio consolidated out of their book into the Southern book with whom the winery already does business in other states.

Despite the hardship that is sure to follow for some local small businesses, I would be lying if I did not welcome the chance that hundreds, if not thousands of new wine SKU’s might come into the market!

Wine Review Weekly

If you’re an information hound like me but have been flummoxed in consistently finding newspaper wine columns online, then Wine Review Weekly is the resource for you – it’s available every Monday on Wines & Vines and published by John Gillespie and his market research firm, Wine Opinions. You can check it here.


Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (2) |


On 09/10, Kim Da Cook wrote:

I always here about the wines from California, people are always talking about them, I would love to give them a try, going to have to find a place that imports this wine.

Once again a great

On 10/30, Randy Watson wrote:

I remember reading this post when it first came out and thinking to myself that I must be doing something right if got at least one person’s attention. 

While I have made a lot of mistakes along my journey so far, I have also learned a lot.  I hope my site has evolved from the Cousin Eddie appearance it had when it first began.

After all, feedback and constructive criticism when digested properly can lead to great improvements.



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