Archive for the 'Polls' Category

Wine auctions: Lafite 1982, the belle and the crystal ball


The wine of the moment, everyone agrees, is 1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby’s North American wine department head, observes that “it now regularly brings $25,000 to $30,000 a case. The rise shows the strength of Asian buyers.” Last year you could have purchased a case for only $11,000. [Bloomberg]

Will 2008 be kind to the wine auction market? Have your say in the latest poll! (Check prices for a bottle of Lafite 1982 at retailers)
poll now closed

Sommelier, store clerk or shelf-talker: who makes the best wine picks?


The hipsters at NY mag asked for help. Their reporter, Emma Rosenblum, went to eight different wine shops and asked the clerks for their wine pick under $25 for a steak dinner. (Steak? Come on, in this day and age of extracted fruit bombs, that’s no impossible food-wine pairing!) Then she poured the eight wines for three of NYC’s top sommeliers who gave them raspberries–and were not just talking “hints” of raspberry, these were full-on, nasty and slobbery. It’s a fascinating story that raises lots of issues. Among them:

1. Lame clerks. The clerks in the story were lame. That can happen, particularly this time of year as stores add temporary help. If you’re not convinced you’re getting great service, talk to another clerk, possibly the wine buyer for that department since you’re sure that he or she will be there to throttle come January, if necessary.

2. Shelf-talkers. Could the reporter have gotten better wines by keeping mum and letting those flaps of paper do the talking? I have an ongoing discussion with a cranky friend who says that store clerks are more reliable than wine magazines because: (a) magazines have compromised their ethics and (b) wine stores have their skin in the game because they want you to come back. Judging by this line-up though, not many stores in NYC are likely to have repeat business!

3. Sommeliers. It was an interesting idea to have restaurant wine sales people (sommeliers) judging the picks of store wine sales people. Is the sommelier more likely to steer you right be cause he or she is around to fear your immediate wrath or bask in your lavish praise after you drink the wine? (Btw, I hope NY mag does an encore edition, pouring sommelier selections back for wine buyers at stores. And with seasonal food this time!)

4. Friends. NY mag didn’t talk about them. But let’s add them to our poll for laffs.

So have your say in the latest poll!
poll now closed

Varietal stemware: genius or hucksterism?

Georg Riedel, 10th generation Austrian glass-blower, invented the delicate crystal glass designed for each grape variety.

Many wine lovers around the world have cabinets stuffed with complete sets by each varietal. But Riedel continues unabated, subdividing grapes with his just released Oregon pinot noir glass–mere grape no longer suffices as now terroir is overlaid on grape. The logically possible amount of stemware just increased exponentially.

Daniel Zwerdling burst into the wine world like a bull in a decanter shop. His story, “Shattered Myths,” in Gourmet (August 2004 and very, very unfortunately not available online), asserted that Georg was pulling the wool over discerning drinkers eyes: the reason wine in Riedel stems tastes better is not because of a tongue map–it simply tastes better because we believe it should.

So, as we contemplate adding more crystal to our collections and to give as gifts this holiday season, have your say in the latest poll!

poll now closed

Kids at wineries, let the voting begin!

Following the controversy generated by a recent poll on this site about banning kids from wineries, we add another poll! But this one has content from you, dear readers, of this site! Grateful for all the photos, the hastily convened Kids At Wineries Committee surveyed the submissions and picked the top five–wait, top six with a late and provocative entry crossing the line! They were all very cute–well, except for that last one that the Committee included for diversity.

Unlike the previous poll, this one has prizes! A complete set of children books by Michelle, my wife, starting with Urban Babies Wear Black and running through the just-about-to-be released Winter Babies Wear Layers. Five books in all, with a black onesie, and a grape juice box thrown in for good measure, these prizes will go to the person who submitted the photo here with the most votes as of Sunday the 7th.

So without further ado, to the photos! Read more…

Poll: Martha Stewart today, who tomorrow?

Martha Stewart is the latest big name to appear behind bars–wine bars, that is as the Independent (UK) put it. America’s queen of homemaking maven has just launched a new line of wines made by E & J Gallo that might actually do well based on her large following in the related area of entertaining. Even corporations are getting into the act: Microsoft has a wine called the Blue Monster with wine from Stormhoek winery in South Africa and a label by cartoonist Hugh McLoed. It’s currently only available for staff and affiliates.

A celebrity hardly even seems like a celebrity these days without cashing in on wine. Lorraine Bracco, Barry Manilow, Jay-Z (more or less), Mike Ditka, various Boston Red Sox players, Greg Norman and many more.

So who’s next celeb-u-tainer–or corporation!–to bravely lend their name to a new wine? Have your say in the latest poll–or add your own choices in the comments below.

poll now closed
(Photo credit: Fair use is made here of a reduced-size crop from an image in MSNBC attributed to Scott Duncan)

Poll: ads versus subscription models for wine web sites


This week the New York Times ended their experiment with a pay subscription barrier on selected content (“Times Select”)–yay, free content for all! Subscriptions had made the company $10 million a year but the thinking is that by making the “premium” content free to readers, the uptick in page views and associated advertising revenues will offset the loss of subscriptions. Even the Wall Street Journal, seen as the most successful online newspaper with $65 million in subscription revenue, is talking about giving out the content for free under the forthcoming Murdoch regime.

Some wine sites put their content behind subscription barriers, notably,, and The Wine Spectator also hits readers with ads after they have already paid, as did Times Select for that matter.

Are there enough ads out there to support wine sites? Should subscription-based wine sites go free? Have your say in the poll and the comments below.

poll now closed


Poll: should kids be banned from wineries?

Discussion on a recent posting highlighted that the new Sattui castle winery in Napa has a “no kids” policy, which set off brief exchange with one reader supporting it. One dad emailed that he thought there should be a “no asshole” policy instead. As a wine-loving dad, I certainly enjoy going to wineries with my wife and four-year old–heck, we’ve even been to NYC wine bars together, though at an early hour.

So I thought I would give this a more public airing with a poll. What do you say: should kids be banned from wineries?

Thanks for voting; poll now closed.

Related: “At Wineries, the Visitors Can Be Young and Bubbly: Napa Valley” (NY Times, May 22, 2005)


Poll: should artisanal be banned?

I was chatting with a friend the other day and somehow the crazy frequency of the word-du-jour, “artisanal,” came up. As in, you know, hand-crafted, made with care instead of mass-production. David over Goliath. I’m all for the process. But the word? I’m done with it.

I have plotted the worldwide frequency of the term above, not just in wine, but all things precious and artsy-craftsy. We appear to have a long way to go before the term dies of overuse.

So what do you say–should artisanal be banned? Polls now open!

poll now closed

Note: the graph was hand-crafted.


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