Archive for the ‘Annoyances’ Category

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.


I am not a mouthpiece.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009




I just received an email from a winery’s PR person telling me how so-and-so magazine gave their wine this really great score and included the wine in one of those best-of lists.

I have a few questions for winery PR staff, and I truly do not mean to sound flip:

I write about wine, I review wine. What purpose does it serve for the winery to send a critic a press release telling them how another critic rated their wine?

What am I to do with this “90-some points” information? (more…)

How do you say “Chopped Liver” in Japanese?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009


Sideways goes sideways. From:

Sideways goes sideways.

What a jip! What a rip!

Jumping on the opportunity that is the rising popularity of wine in Japan, the movie Sideways is being remade in Japanese.

This lack of originality (seemingly typical of Hollywood – where ideas for U.S. video entertainment are recycled scripts and concepts of shows and films successful abroad) is topped off with a few changes – the most insulting of which is that the new movie takes place in Napa. There also is no merlot bashing and the movie is replete with product plugs. (more…)

French wine policies: more questions than answers

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


"Straw Man". From:

"Straw Man". From:

Something strange is happening in France. The country, whose identity only 20-some years ago included a culture and appreciation of wine, appears to be under siege of an anti-alcohol faction. Most recently, we see evidence of this in ludicrous statements by the nation’s Ministry of Health that consumption of even small amounts of wine increases the risk of cancer.

I am a proponent of evidence-based medicine. This statement, however, is based on bad science. While the commentary on the Ministry’s assertion, or what appears to be the execution of an agenda, is strongly negative, I am at a loss for finding any background information for how this anti-alcohol trend in France came about. Other than blaming the teetotalism of President Sarkozy, the commentators whose writings on the matter I have read to date, offer no insights into more substantial and meaningful explanation of why France is experiencing this anti-alcohol movement. (more…)

“Closure” afterthoughts

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


Wine Closures. From

Wine Closures

Last Friday, I posted about an informal tasting of wines finished with alternative closures at a MW seminar in Yountville. Given how many people seem to be interested in this topic, I’m seizing the spotlight opportunity to expand on the original post.

The tasting and the original article seemed innocuous to me because it didn’t seem to cover any new ground. I thought that, given the widespread use of synthetic closures in wine production, most people in the business would know a lot about synthetic corks, screw caps and glass stoppers, and that my 263-word blurb with very little commentary would not garner any interest. (more…)

Chopped Liver

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008


Chopped Liver. From

Chopped Liver

Did you know there are vineyards south of San Francisco? Really, there are! Over 100,000 acres! That’s Napa and Sonoma put together. But it seems that, in some people’s mental maps, there is no noteworthy wine country outside of these two regions.

I make no contentions that Napa and Sonoma don’t produce quality wines. They do. I don’t argue that these regions don’t deserve their reputations. They do. However, when news reports about frosts and weather flukes as well as harvest updates omit mention of the Central Coast and call Napa and Sonoma the premiere wine country and when wine websites categorize Central Coast wines as “Other California Wine”, I am compelled to make a point of clarification. (more…)


Tuesday, July 8th, 2008


Van Halen, 'Balance' album cover.


With a lot going on in my personal life this week, and in the coming few weeks, I am struggling daily for balance between my obligations and and aspirations. It is in thinking about that quest for balance in my overloaded schedule that I was reminded of the fact that one of the things we value most about wine is balance. But that is not always achieved.

Balance seems to be at an even greater premium when talking about wine-related research and the health benefits of wine. It seems that any sort of cautionary commentary about the benefits of resveratrol or about moderation and responsibility in alcohol consumption is invariably perceived as “preachy” or judgmental. (more…)