Archive for June, 2009

Spin and predictions

Monday, June 29th, 2009


Burnt rubber.

Burnt rubber.

In a New York Times article about South African wines, Wines of South Africa spokesman, André Morgenthal, is quoted questioning the presence of “burnt rubber” character in South African wines.

…it has not been scientifically proven that the flavor even exists“, says Morgenthal.

The article relates that a team of researchers has been fast at work (late into each night, presumably) trying to understand this phenomenon.

It’s not like the burnt rubber character has not been widely identified as a real sensory finding in South African wines. And it’s not like the character has been understood as a real chemical phenomenon by others (….) or that it has been linked to disulfide flaws (….) or even published anywhere (certainly not summarized here or here). (more…)

Professional baloney

Friday, June 26th, 2009


Michael Jackson coverage on

Michael Jackson coverage on

Yesterday’s coverage of the tragic and unexpected death of Michael Jackson made me think about the divide between traditional media and new media. For a while, I have been sensing “traditional” journalists are being self-righteous about their status and place in society. I was constantly nagged by a feeling that this is about more than ideals and standards.

While I work, I like to listen to the news on the internet. I think it was during Woff Blitzer’s show that CNN announced that Jackson had been transported to the hospital after a reported cardiac arrest. The way the story evolved and was reported on various venues got me thinking again.



Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009



It seems revolt and change are teeming in so many places these days. Wine culture – and wine writing, in particular – is no exception.

I left Poland in late December of 1980. Although tension had been mounting and change had been brewing for some time; shortly after our departure, things spiraled down: Economic hardships, empty store shelves, public unrest, protests, water cannons, beatings and arrests.

The regime contained and suppressed it but things were never the same and a few years later there finally came a breakthrough. A similar situation is playing out in Iran. So, it is my ardent hope that the Iranian people achieve their breakthrough – whatever they want that to be. (more…)

Sacre Bleu! Thinking IS valued!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009




Last Week, Galen Struwe – President of Struwe Desnous Imports and owner/operator of the Sacre Bleu blog reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in answering a few questions for his blog. Galen was interested in exploring what he called my tendency to “surround your insights with a detached, academic kind of examination”.

Galen told me the Sacre Bleu blog is written with the millennial demographic in mind. Being older than this group, I suppose I have a limited understanding of what they are about. By numerous indications (which I am at a loss to cite at the moment), this group seems to value intellectualism and thinking. There is even a rise of something called called the “geek culture” reflected in TV programming.

How refreshing. Perhaps “Idiocracy” is not so much a prophecy as much as it is a cautionary tale being heeded by young people.

I’ll keep this short. You can read the whole interview here.

Aim lower

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009


Brand presence.

Brand presence.

I really do not think of myself as all that smart. Yes, there’s that whole med school and looking at brains for a living thing. But it doesn’t take much more than an IQ of 100 and discipline and persistence to get through med school and subsequent specialty training.

I suppose that my self-perception distorts my understanding of the intelligence and aptitude of the average citizen consumer. It’s probably safe to say that I have forgotten the level of medical knowledge possessed by Jane and John Patient since I don’t interact with patients on a regular basis (I’m not a real doctor, I just look at pictures, as my son once famously said).  Every once in a while, though, a sobering reality check comes along. (more…)

Pink and sweet

Friday, June 12th, 2009


Two pink wines.

Two kinds of pink wine.

In celebration of the withdrawal of the proposal that would have broadened the allowed production methods for the production of pink wine in Europe (and thereby diminish the quality of rose wines – more here), I decided to try a couple pink wines with dinner on Monday night.

My wife made one of her tried-and-true salads: grilled chicken, Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, shallots and balsamic vinaigrette on romaine lettuce and spinach.

I chilled a bottle of the 2008 Hartford Family Rose of Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, $25, arrived recently in my wife’s club shipment) and the 2008 Red Cote Rose (Artisan Family of Wines, Suisun Valley, $12.99, cabernet sauvignon & petite sirah, courtesy of Jeff Miller). (more…)

Wha… Wha… Whaaaaaat?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009


Hello Kitty.

Maybe it’s cultural. Maybe I just don’t get what this Hello Kitty is all about. I thought it was a kids’ cartoon heavily marketed through items like clothing, accessories, my daughter’s bedding and pens and stamps, etc. Apparently, this stuff has a following among adults. I would not hold my breath for Sponge Bob branded wines, beers or spirits, though.

This just seems wrong. Maybe not Ratatouille white Burgundy wrong…. But still wrong. I will be surprised if this label finds its way to the shelves of anything but adult novelty stores here in the U.S..

I may be just a tad behind the curve on this one, but it’s Wednesday and I think there are too many unknowns in the equation for me to be doing any intelligent commentary on  the matter. Or…it could just be Internet fatigue.

So…cartoon wine labels are all I have today.

Read more here and here.