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The Wine Trials

Published on May 1st and just delivered to my doorstep via Amazon.com, The Wine Trials by Robin Goldstein enlivened (inflamed?) the wine blogosphere before anybody cracked the cover.

The striker to the matchbook?  Eric Asimov, a seasoned journalist for the New York Times, wrote a post based on reading a Newsweek article about the book.

You would not expect a journalist to comment on another piece of print media, especially without having read the book, but I guess this is the blogosphere and we are all guilty of seeking inspiration outside of traditional journalistic boundaries, but what ensued in the comments section of the post when nobody had read the book was truly sociologically interesting.

After a 65 comment explosion, Asimov wrote a follow-up after receiving a pre-release galley copy of the book and that post incited 31 comments.

Sequentially, the original post can be found here and the follow-up here.

Interestingly, the book is only, initially, available on Amazon.com.  And, yes, you guessed it.  Amazon is currently backordered on the book.

Somebody is interested …

Piqued by all of this, I did what anybody would do with all of that content on Asimov’s blog—I cut and paste into a Word document with .5 margins and 10 pt Trebuchet font.

36 pages and 17,000 words later I am more confused than before I started.  And, with no small amount of irony, the 17,000 words has to exceed the actual content in the book, which is 2/3’s wine listings. 

Here is the net-net version with this book:  the author did a blind tasting of many wines with large number of tasters (some 500 +) and the result was that numerous inexpensive wines (under $15) bested wines that are more expensive ($50 +) based on the panel of judges.

Pragmatically speaking, you do not have a book if people preferred more expensive wines to the less expensive wines so there is some room for question because the study, presumably, was set-up with an end conclusion in mind and not a hypothesis, but just the same it’s a fascinating book that makes for good arm chair reading over the course of a couple of hours.  With 58 introductory pages and the balance of the book being wine listings of the 100 wines under $15 that bested the $50 - $150 wines, it’s a light read.

The majority of the blog comments about Asimov’ posts on the book were centered on the division of small expensive wines and large grocery store wines.  This is an old ideological argument and more analogies were employed to explain the difference in art versus culture.  Variants cropped up about wine appreciation versus simpleton quaffers, etc.

Ugh, wake me when this tired old song is over with.  We get it.  Get over it.  Yes, there is a cultural difference between NASCAR fans and those that attend the symphony.  By God, both of these groups of people enjoy wine, too.

Nested within all of this debate is the essential truth by Asimov.

He states:

I am not saying wine is the equivalent of art. I do say that wine can be appreciated on many different levels, but that nobody should ever feel obliged to appreciate wine on any level. In the end, the book seems to divide wine consumers into the casual buyers who are pushed this way and that by forces they don’t understand, and the wealthy conspicuous status seekers who also are not quite aware of capitalism and marketing. Unacknowledged are the serious wine lovers who are knowledgeable, experimental and passionate, and who, yes, are in control of their own destinies. The book may speak to the first two groups, but not to the third.

As a member of the third group, the “serious wine lover” I can say unequivocally that I occasionally drink inexpensive wine and, natch, this book is an interesting take and a welcome addition to the pantheon of wine studies and a nice guidebook to the maze of choices at your grocery store for a through the week glass.

For additional reading at the source research study that led to the book, see this white paper.



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Posted in, Around the Wine Blogosphere. Permalink | Comments (5) |


Comments

On 05/16, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Hi Sirs,
but…have you already heard about the new Master in Fine Food & Beverage? The first edition of the Program is going to start on the 14th January 2009 in Milan at SDA, the School of Management of Bocconi University. I think it could be a great opportunity to combine job with our passion and interests in these fields. Also, Italy seems me to be the best place to practice grin)) Please, if you want, have a quick look to the program at this link http://www.sdabocconi.it/en/mba_and_master/mffb/
What do you think? I believe it is great!
Bye

On 05/16, Arthur wrote:

Jeff,

The problem with this kind of book and accompanying ‘research paper’ (only a working draft) sent out as he final word (a-la press releas) by its authors is not that most people completely miss the problems with construct, design and execution of the ‘study’ because they are mired in the ideological contentions you mention.

The consequence of this kind of ‘research’ (an of that like the MRI study done at Stanford & CalTech) is that we will be paying $30 for wines identical to Charles Shaw and Yellow Cab - because: 1) majority of people prefer these wines and 2) if told the wines are more expensive, people will convince themselves that the wines are better when you and I know they each cost a buck to mack and are worth about that.

This is the real, chilling implication of these “studies”. Wine is a business and these studies will be used by producers and marketers to cut production costs, increase price and raise profit margins.

Look out Australia, here comes California!

On 05/27, Approaching wrote:

i love wine, and i love this site, and all the posts.

On 05/28, Frank wrote:

NASCAR fans and the symphony attendees.. what about the inventors and creative types?  ..you ever see how they drink wine?  first ya have to strap the hat with the whiskey holder on it to your head, and place the fishline tube in your mouth. You take a quick sip off the hose, and then open your mouth and others shoot the grape guns at ya .. hold up hand to signal youre done , in case ya get one one in the eye with a oblong seed etc.

then, the next hat lights up in the wireless wine drinking network.. and its their turn.  hand up signals they had a good taste. Its fun and other than the red dots all over your head and neck, you had a good time.

j/k smile  but wouldnt that be somethin?

Frank
Full Color Printing

On 08/05, MCGEECORINE32 wrote:

Outsourcing it Ukraine is designed and developed specially for individual customer with the purpose to conform precise needs of their projects.


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