Category Archives: press

Blah, Blah, Blah Wine

Dr. Debs’ interesting post at Good Wine Under $20 about jargon got me thinking about the way we communicate about wine. Her point to ponder was whether “jargon (technical terms about wine), dialects (terminology common to a group of wine writers), and idiolects (terms that a single wine writer comes up with; if sufficiently popular, idiolects can get shared and become dialects)” actually obstruct our ability to communicate about wine.

Jeff’s post on Good Grape got the old wheels churning even harder; for him, Dr. Deb’s post dovetailed with a magazine article in Sante that he read about how menu descriptions affect how we eat in restaurants. As Jeff sums it up, a dish that’s more elaborately described on the menu will be described by those who’ve eaten it as “more appealing, tastier and the restaurant as being trendier and more contemporary.”

This would seem to argue, then, for more elaborate tasting notes, rather than less. If we are trying to get more Americans drinking wine (and we are; you’ll thank us when you’re older), then hopefully by introducing it in elaborate, flowery language will make everyone have better, fonder memories of their wine drinking experiences… and thus drink more wine.

As you may know, if you’re a regular here at the Wine Scamp, elaborate is not a problem for me. And as I commented on Dr. Deb’s site, one of the reasons I love wine so much is that gorgeous juxtaposition of sensation and language that is the tasting note. My first love being poetry, I have always been fascinated by our attempts to communicate the indescribable; emotions and sensations are so subjective that the attempt to encapsulate them in words seems almost impossible. So things get fancy, words get outlandish, and jargon and dialects are born.

Seems like the perfect opportunity for a Friday poll, which I can’t seem to get to work in this post, but which you can vote on in the sidebar to your right.  Sound off!

Zines, zines, zines…

Wine AdvocateI’m shopping.  When I started this experiment of writing about wine, having been out of the business for what seems like forever but is actually only 2 years, I promised myself that if I stuck with it I would budget in a few wine magazine subscriptions.  I hadn’t maintained my trade subscriptions because it was a little too painful reading about expensive, interesting wines when I didn’t have the money to buy them and no one to discuss them with; but I’m feeling frisky, baby, so watch out!

Back when I was a wine rep, I exhaustively read consumer-oriented publications, because that’s what affected my customers’ shelves and lists.  It was important for me to know what trends were affecting their sales (and therefore my own).Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Decanter, and Food and Wine.  Talking to a wine bar owner lately, I’ve learned that Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar affects sales here in Texas (or at least here in Austin), though it didn’t seem so big an influence back in the USVI.
Wine Spectator

My inestimable former boss BG, would also get more trade-oriented subscriptions; we shared, of course, and I always enjoyed reading Wine & Spirits, Quarterly Review of Wine, and Restaurant Wine.  He particularly swore by the little-known gems he would find in the latter, and I must say that he was right on the money when he ordered something for our territory based on a review from RW. BG was a traditionalist and liked to get the printed magazines; I needed information fast, even from back-issues, and needed to be able to search wine ratings, so I liked the online subscriptions.  At WA and WS, you can search their databases for wine rating scores, which is super-useful for wine reps whose customers respond to ratings. (Is that redundant?  Does anyone sell wine to people who are not affected by ratings?) 

Restaurant Wine

 

So, I’m working on a budget, and I am no longer driven by the need to find the next new 92 pt wine that retails for less than $10 (though I’m not opposed to it).  I’m interested in reading articles on industry trends and winery profiles, but I’d also like to hear about cool new bottles of deliciousity.  I like the immediacy of online subscriptions, but then there’s something satisfying about getting something in the mail every month, too.  Plus, I’m not always near a computer.

What would you recommend I buy, if we were to keep at a budget of about $200?  What wine publications are most useful and rewarding for you?  Which ones feel like the best bang for your buck?  Where do you find your precious nuggets of wisdom?