Field Notes from a Wine Life – Story Edition

Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass…

Words aren’t enough

I give to thee…the worst wine ad of all-time and that’s without delving into the ponderous name of the wine or, why, inexplicably, the back of the laptop in the photo has a big sticker for Ass Kisser ales

…In the main visual, three people are huddled around the boss giving him “Ass Kisser” wine…Isn’t the point of being a brown-noser to do it subtly?  Who randomly gifts their boss right before their employee review? 


Even if you view this ad as schlocky hipster irony, it’s still bad and makes you wonder if the advertising sales guy at Wine Enthusiast couldn’t do a solid for his client and suggest creative that, well, actually makes sense.

Or, maybe being horrible was the plan – like a movie that becomes a cult hit a decade hence…so bad that it becomes a lofty ideal for bad, enjoying a following because of its campy nature. 

Bad Week for Eric Asimov?

On both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Eric Asimov, the New York Times chief wine critic was taken to task for different reasons by Matt Kramer at and Steve Heimoff at his blog of the same name.

This is interesting because wine writers of a certain stature very carefully call their shots amongst their peers.

Normally the shots are fired up (Parker) or down (bloggers), but usually never sideways amongst writers in the same strata. 

To watch Asimov, as seemingly decent of a guy as you’ll find, called onto the rug by two notable wine writers, to me, speaks to something much bigger.

With Parker stepping aside and Antonio Galloni receiving glancing admiration for hitting a stand-up triple by dint of his current position at the Wine Advocate, at the same time that the wheat and chaff are separating with wine bloggers, somebody has to step into the fray as a public foil for other wine writers to target.

Unwittingly, it might be Asimov for reasons entirely opposite of Parker’s hegemony.  Asimov’s palate for wine seems food-friendly and balanced; he takes an egalitarian approach to wine for the people without pretense and he doesn’t score wines.

In other words, Asimov is bizarro Superman to Parker’s swashbuckling empiricism and, perhaps, even a greater danger to the Ivory Tower of legacy wine media than the mere jealousy that passed for poking at Parker.

Just a thought…

It’s all about the story

The wine business has always been excellent at storytelling.  Virtually every winery has their origin story and that of their dirt down pat, even if not very compelling.

So, it is with interest that I’ve been watching Facebook’s recent changes keeping in mind that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has emphasized emotional resonance, narrative and storytelling – factors that extend well beyond consumers using Facebook to “Tell the story of their life,” as Zuckerberg noted.  This will be inclusive of the brands that use Facebook for engagement, as well.

I was further intrigued after reading parallel news reports that Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), is singing the same song.

He notes in an article in Advertising Age, “Technology innovations are irrelevant to the future of advertising and marketing unless a more fundamental activity is understood, honored and advanced: the craft of storytelling.”

A quick Google search for “Mark Zuckerberg F8 Keynote” and “Randall Rothenberg MIXX Keynote” will yield a number of stories all occurring in September.  There’s no question about Facebook’s influence and the IAB is the thought-leader for digital advertising.  Between the two of them, they present an imposing shadow of influence on digital marketing.

If I were a winery with an understanding that digital marketing is a tsunami of change that is important, I might start revisiting my winery story for some fine-tuning…

Two books that I recommend to bone-up on the elements of good business storytelling are:  The Story Factor and Made to Stick.

On Sweet Wines

In an article this week from the San Francisco Chronicle called “Beginner drinkers get a crush on sweet red wines,”  E.&J. Gallo VP of Marketing, Stephanie Gallo, noted:  “There is a major shift going on in the U.S. wine drinking culture.  First, we noticed that regional sweet red blends were doing particularly well in Indiana, Texas and North Carolina. Second, our consumers were asking if we produced a sweet red wine after tasting our Moscato at events.”

Good Grape readers had the scoop on this months ago when I wrote:

How Sweet it is – The Growing Sweet Wine Trend in early October, 2010


Move over Moscato and Make Way for Sweet Reds in February of this year

Just saying…