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Setting a wine blogger straight

One of the categories here is Beer & Wine. That’s not Beer versus Wine.

Jennifer Jordan would seem to disagree. She has written a stupid, and offensive to many, piece titled “Climbing the Liquor Ladder: Going from Beer to Wine.” What’s amazing is how many beer drinkers joined the conversation (which is what blogs are about).

Jay Brooks as done more than just comment – taking her to task in a lengthy blog post.

Is she a genuine wine snob, mean-spirited, or simply taking a lead from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist who grabbed all kind of attention (and many links) by taking a poke at beer snobs?

I hope this isn’t a trend. Want to generate a little traffic for your newspaper site, blog, whatever? Write something offensive about people who drink beer, see your list of comments grow near 100.

The curious part is that if her goal is to motivate beer drinkers to “move up to wine” or to somehow educate them about the pleasures of drinking wine (and there are many) then her column wasn’t worth much. On the other hand, because so many beer drinkers added solid suggestions her post ended up adding a little beer education to the blogosphere.

Good job, folks.

Think we should invite her to the first beer blogging day?

Do you talk to your beer collection?

Do you feel this way about your beer?

The New York Times has a story today about Park B. Smith, one of the world’s great wine collectors. His cellar covers 8,000 square feet and holds more than 65,000 bottles (half of them magnums). It has a full kitchen, bath and living room.

This question at the top arises from this lovely paragraph:

“I’ve had a crummy week, I just come down here for a few hours and talk to my bottles,” Smith said, giving voice to the desires of frustrated wine lovers everywhere. Linda (his wife) said, “That’s all right, as long as they don’t start talking back to you.”

But of course they should.

Added an hour later: Why it’s great when newspaper reporters can blog. The story Eric Asimov could do about the cellar is limited by the constraints of print, even when print goes online. In his blog he writes about “the journey we had taken together” – lunch, the wines, mostly the conversation.

The next generation of drinkers

Missed this story for about a month: Young adults key to wine growth (and breweries are figuring that out).

The articles reports the surge in wine consumption by the so-called millennial generation – defined generally as teens to late 20s – is one of the key reasons the U.S. wine industry has experienced robust growth in recent years.

But one beverage analyst suggested the increase was not caused by the wine industry. Instead, it is the result of the beer industry’s failure to effectively market its products, said Kaumil Gajrawala, an analyst with UBS Investment Research.

Beer companies lost market share to wine and spirits largely because their advertising campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s were sophomoric and failed to deliver a message about the quality of their products, Gajrawala said.

To support his contention, Gajrawala played a compilation video of beer ads that showed bikini-clad women wrestling, overweight male sports fans in full-body paint, and men driving golf balls in ludicrously inappropriate places.

“A 23-year-old doesn’t want to identify with that,” he said.

Gajrawala then played newer campaigns by major beer companies like Coors and Budweiser, which he said are hipper and more likely to appeal to the millennials. The new ads are an indication brewers have learned the error of their ways, he said.

“Clearly, you can see the beer companies have changed their strategy in terms of how they are going after consumers,” he said.

That’s important for the wine industry because if the beer industry and its massive marketing clout does a better job of keeping young drinkers well into adulthood, wine may have a tougher time growing at the rates it has enjoyed, he said.

“The free ride for wine is probably over,” he said.

As most business stories, when this one refers to the beer industry that means the big breweries – the ones who could afford to broadcast stupid commercials. Those are the one now catching up not only with wineries but craft breweries who’ve been talking about the quality of their products all along.

Beer, wine profs go glass-to-glass

debateThe beer vs. wine debate goes to the university classroom. with Andrew Waterhouse, chair of the department of viticulture and enology at UC Davis, and Charles Bamforth, chair of the department of food science and technology, duking it out.

Waterhouse:

“Putting a bottle of wine in your shopping cart immediately makes you look smarter and healthier. It’s all about image. Who do you want to be seen with?”

Bamforth:

“Most people who drink beer are young men who eat sausages and watch ball games. Think of how healthy they would be if they just drank beer.”

Both the beer and wine schools at the California school have internationally reputations. Bamforth is the first Anheuser-Busch endowed professor of brewing science.

Senior art history major Laura Stotesber told the campus newspaper: “It was enjoyable, intelligent, witty and there was a well-balanced argument on both sides. I thought it was great to see these two industries come together in fun.”

These guys know where to find the good stuff

Jeff Bagby

This is the way it is supposed to work, but when you interrupt your beer culture for about 100 years then some things – like ongoing addition of “new blood” and thus innovation – start to fall through the cracks.

Food and wine magazines are constantly featuring the hot new chefs, new winemakers and even new sommeliers. In an interview in the New York Times wine authority Jancis Robinson was asked what she sees as the most important change in the wine world.

“Oh, the upgrade of quality, and the enthusiasm and ambition of winemakers everywhere,” she said.

That’s also happening in beer, although you’re less likely to see brewers’ mugs in glossy magazines.

Instead San Diego Union-Tribune illustrates the point with a feature on Jeff Bagby (pictured above at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival) of Pizza Port Carlsbad.

The author calls Bagby one of the county’s most intuitive brewers (how do you measure that?), “willing to base a beer on a hunch.”

“A lot of it is a shot in the dark,” Bagby tells him.

Perhaps – and if so his aim is still pretty good – but his beers are no accident. In part because it seems he’s always in “research” mode. The easiest way to find the new and interesting beers at the Great American Beer Festival is to ask Bagby – or another of his generation of New American brewers like Will Meyers of Cambridge (Mass.) Brewing – because he’s out talking to other brewers and tasting beer.

Now go back to Robinson’s quote. Do you think we could say this?

“Oh, the upgrade of quality, and the enthusiasm and ambition of beermakers everywhere.”

OK, not everywhere, but Robinson probably wasn’t including Yellow Tail either.

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