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News, Notes and Dusty Bottle Items – Midsummer Night’s Edition

More odds and ends that don’t fit into a stand-alone blog post …

Demystifying Wine vs. Everyday Wine Culture

Since time immemorial somebody somewhere has been trying to demystify wine; make that which is hard to understand easier to understand for people who don’t understand.

Yet, sadly, to this day, this “demystification” is still the crux of most wine education – the notion that somebody or something is going to help you break through the fog of confusion to understanding and enlightenment. 

This demystification can’t be working too well.

Increasingly, I keep seeing new wine blogs pop-up with this premise as their focus.

Unfortunately, these demystifying do-gooders have it all wrong.


The real revolution that wine bloggers can provide, at least in the realm of wine education, is to not try to demystify the subject.  There are plenty of avenues for somebody to learn what they want to learn, if they want to learn. The real value wine bloggers can provide is to act as the wine equivalent of the United Nations – a peacekeeping system with some level of codification in belief systems; a united front for the promotion of everyday wine culture.

And, there is a difference between wine appreciation and an everyday wine culture.  The former indicates that newcomers are going to fit into the existing schema if and when they come to enlightenment.  The latter indicates how you can comfortably incorporate wine into your lifestyle, no matter the lifestyle, or level of enlightenment.

It’s the equivalent of a sea of humanity at a music concert, people enjoying the same thing from all walks of life – a stark difference to what you see at a country club, for example.  Put another way, it’s Kindergarten all over again – everybody is important and everybody matters.

An everyday wine culture says that a wine you like is a good wine.  A wine you like tastes pretty good in a glass, but not necessarily that crystal varietal glass.  And, that’s okay.

An everyday wine culture says that a glass of wine with lunch isn’t a bad thing, because it’s a food beverage, not an intoxicant.

No, the lasting impact wine bloggers can have isn’t acting as the next vanguard of wine writers or any of the other romantic notions that swirl around.  The power, the lasting impact, exists amongst hundreds of blogs in promoting wine as a beverage that is taken out of the hands and realm of understanding with a few while empowering the many.

The UC Davis of the East?

After having thoroughly enjoyed a local Valvin Muscat (regrettably named like an OB-GYN exam procedure), I was somewhat surprised to see that the varietal was just released in 2006 by the grapevine breeding and genetics program at Cornell.

Old vines there were not.  But, it was a tasty wine, nice nose, Gewürztraminer-like, with enough spice, but not too much and dry.

Come to find out Cornell has bred a good number of hybrids over the years, mostly to counter climatic conditions for growers across the country.

Many people talk about global warming in the context of an area being too hot or too cool for a grape.  It may be in the future we’ll all drink some form of a hybrid that has been bred for its climatic conditions and not just in the areas east of the West Coast.

Deep Reading for Internet Wine Dorks

Thanks to Alder at Vinography … in a recent blog post he tipped me off to importer Terry Thiese’ massive catalogs that double as nighttime reading – his 2009 German catalog is 182 pages.

If you have the slightest interest in German Riesling, Austrian wines or Champagne, his catalogs are wonderfully written, enjoyable, free and do much to provide insight into the world of Importers, the last bastion of wine principle over commerce in the sales value chain.

More reading, different topic: Social media continues to be the topic du jour – it makes me almost wistful for the good old days.  I remember ’07 fondly.  You had blogging and a bunch of other stuff, but it was mostly blogging.  No more. 

That said, the best all-in-one primer and action-oriented planning guide that I’ve read is from a digital agency called 360i. It can be downloaded here.

Somewhat Related Reading Topic

Since I’m a book wonk, I have often thought that re-publishing old wine books that are out-of-print or in the public domain would be an interesting small business.  The world of wine has some classics, but there hasn’t really been an effort to canonize some of the old chestnuts aside from Notes on a Cellar Book by George Saintsbury.

I’m prone to hyperbole, so I’ll try to keep my enthusiasm down to a low roar, but I LOVE this idea!

Short of starting your own publishing business, which these days makes as much sense as Ford reintroducing the Pinto, you can now buy and humbly invest in out-of-print books.

According to the web site of Kirtas Books and their “Invest in Knowledge” program:

Invest in Knowledge is a new and innovative (patent pending) program that allows anyone to subsidize the digitization of the world’s knowledge one book at a time and to receive 5% of all future sales of that book through You will receive a reprint of that book as well as the ongoing 5%. You can invest in as many books as they would like.

It’s inexpensive, too.  For $30 bucks you can reap a royalty for years to come.

I almost want to give them James Gabler’s book, Wine into Words: A History and Bibliography of Wine Books in the English Language and tell them these are the books I want to digitize.

New Vine Logistics

Lastly, but not least, I just realized that the VP of Sales at New Vine is a guy my age, from my hometown, South Bend, IN. 

In fact, we went to neighboring high schools and have overlapping groups of friends.  I mean, I’ve played Thanksgiving weekend football games with Josh Langford (decent speed, good hands). I’ve played pick-up basketball with him (no game).  We’ve gone to the same weddings.

Whatever the current status of New Vine, he’s a good guy, and, at the end of the day, people usually try to do the best with the cards they are dealt.  Plus, he went to Notre Dame which makes him exculpable in my book.


Posted in, News, Notes & Dusty Bottle Items. Permalink | Comments (7) |


On 07/10, Hardy / Dirty wrote:

Demystification of wine.  Removing Snobbery from wine. “Making wine more accessible”... etc. These are almost mantras now.

What people really need, is to become more curious about wine. 

Curiosity can be piqued a gazillion different ways.  For some—making it fun, for others, academic, and for another crew, it may be tying it to the hunt for the great Sasquatch. (That’s totally my crew)

On 07/13, Dylan wrote:

I agree with Hardy/Dirty but curiosity can only be invited by a form of accessibility. When the sign says “Don’t push the button” there needs to be a button within arms reach that you can push. If there’s too much of a hurdle to engage in your curiosity all you have is a passing interest.

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