News, Notes and Dusty Bottle Items ? The Vortex Edition

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

The Vortex

Newsweek magazine named Tina Brown Editor-in-Chief.  Brown is a well-respected publishing veteran formerly of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, amongst others. 

In Brown’s opening remarks with her new team she said:

“…To have a magazine … of such relevance in today’s spinning vortex of a world that can actually bring sense, bring meaning, bring connection to all the splintered fragments that assail us every day …”

It’s an interesting choice of words and speaks to the value that magazines can bring to consumers in a world of instant headlines and increasing digitization.  Context and analysis become the primary value that magazines offer, helping readers make sense of what’s around them. 

As if to put a finer point on Brown’s statement, the cover story to the current edition of Newsweek discusses the overwhelming demands on the modern day presidency.  The article, titled, “Hail to the Chiefs” with the subtitle, “The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world.”  The ensuing article does a good job of elucidating the complex demands on being the Commander in Chief including the amount of information (briefings) that must be read and understood, the President’s own spinning vortex.

I bring this up within the context of wine because it’s hard not to notice the incredible increase in the amount of complexity and fragmentation in the wine world.  Practically every day brings to the fore a new wine-producing country; a new service is launched; a new initiative is announced, and a new technology upsets the proverbial apple cart demanding relevance and a place within our mental hierarchy of order.

Frankly, most wine-interested people could use a daily briefing book like the President receives in order to make sense of it all … 

Meanwhile, research reports continue to indicate that consumer spending habits have changed, perhaps for the long-term.  No longer is it a part of the U.S. psyche to be spendthrift for the sake of the accumulation of material goods.

However, ironically, most of our mainstream wine media is not focused on context at all, nor are they focused on bringing order to the complex wine world, they are interested in wrapping wine in a lifestyle wrapper, a spending choice that is no longer relevant—the equivalent to junk food, enrobing chocolate over empty calories.

Methinks (and it’s only the 190th time that I’ve brought it up), that the mainstream media that serve the wine-inclined is well-served moving forward by, “Bring(ing) sense, bring(ing) meaning, bring(ing) connection to all the splintered fragments …” while accepting the reality that luxury lifestyle is an anachronism.

Whoever accepts the challenge of providing a monthly wine briefing book wins bonus points.

New Species

Enter a new species in the wine world – the “Asian Whale.”  Long an inhabitant of the gaming tables of Las Vegas where it has been said that up to 80% of the whales are Asian, they are now migrating to the wine world.

A very good article (here) from the Guardian in the U.K. elaborates on the many facets that Asian interest in wine is bringing to the landscape of wine trade.

Sasquatch Spotted

For years and years, people have complained about sulfites in wines indicating that they triggered headaches, flush faces, sinus congestion and more.

Justification for naming sulfites has always been that unsulfured wine, normally consumed on vacation in Italy or France, didn’t trigger an allergy attack so wines that were sulfured must be the culprit.

Meanwhile, people vigorously defend sulfites as NOT the source of allergy issues with no clear counter argument for WHAT does cause the reaction in people.  It is/was a very confusing issue and because I don’t have allergic reactions to wine I generally ignored the conversation.  However, I find it fascinating that an issue that has long been a part of the wine landscape has seemingly been identified.

According to recent research, glycoproteins, a type of protein coated with sugar that develops during the fermentation process might be the allergen culprit –these glycoproteins are very similar to known allergens like ragweed, for example.

Just goes to show that prevailing wisdom sometimes isn’t always that wise.

Speaking of Prevailing Wisdom …

Tim Hanni, and his recent research about taste sensitivities has a piece at Huffington Post.  It’s well-done, but the lone comment to the story again frame’s Hanni’s premise within the argument that a democratization of wine perception will create wines that lack distinction.

Folks, that already exists, what Hanni is talking about is changing perceptions.  The realities already exist. 

As I’ve noted in several recent posts, I like what he is doing.

Increasing your Sense of Smell

On a daily basis I vacillate in between snap reaction and action and more considered thoughtfulness.  One of the things I’ve been considering and researching are detox diets as a part of purging my dependency on caffeine while also losing 10 lbs. in the process.

The negatives to a detox diet are the caffeine withdrawal and the short-term hunger pangs.  The benefit of a detox diet is the fact that most detox dieter’s report that their sense of smell goes off the charts to what might be considered super-human levels.

Color me convinced. 

A detox diet and a zinc supplement, another recommendation to increase sense of smell, and I might turn into a robo-wine taster, which would be okay by me.

Harvard Business Case Study

I don’t know what kind of deal with the devil I’ve made to be on such a good run of luck, but I was recently named best wine blog by a third-party web site, I was asked to write for a Financial Times property and now a blog post that I wrote is going to be a part of a Harvard Business case study.

I like it, particularly the Harvard part, because I went to Ball State University, an average school for people with average grades, where I was barely granted admission before finally figuring out how to leave my wayward studying habits behind while balancing my extracurricular activities. 

The post that will be a part of a Harvard case study can be found here.


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