Contents under pressure (Champagne)


During the recent week-long episode of “deflate-gate,” another dad at a youth basketball game leaned over and asked me, “How do you feel about the important matters of our day, such as Tom Brady’s balls?”

Frankly, I hadn’t heard so much talk about pounds per square inch since the last sparkling wine seminar I attended. So, for your reference, our senior pressure intern (PSI: balls and bottles) compiled the following infographic. Prosecco, from northeast Italy, has about 3.5 times atmospheric pressure in a bottle. Champagne bottle pressure is about 6 times (or, to sound super wonky, six bar). That explains the heavier bottle since it has to withstand more pressure. They are also made by different methods and use different grapes. Now, have a good date night. And don’t talk about football. :-)

Cold water on the “red wine myth”?

red_wine_pourResearchers have poured cold sauvignon blanc on the idea that red wine is good for your health. Eegad, it was all a chimera!

The new study, published in the British Medical Journal, makes a methodological point: previous studies looking at the effect of red wine an health had grouped respondents into drinkers and non-drinkers. But, they find using health data from England from 1998-2008, that lumping former drinkers in with teatotalers in the non-drinker pool brought down the overall health of the non-drinkers. Looking just at the teatotalers, the health effect of red wine was reduced or eliminated across age groups.

But what about the enjoyment of a glass of wine pleasure and happiness extending or enriching life? (The paper doesn’t actually parse wine in the analysis instead relying on units of alcohol.)

Listen to one of the killjoys who wrote the study. Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor at the University of Sydney, told “I think we have to put our results in the context of real life. Alcohol was consumed, is consumed, and will be consumed, so I think the moderate consumption method has still some value, providing that it’s put in the context of a broader healthy lifestyle.”

Wait, he’s not opposed to moderate wine drinking? Well, he continues! “I think, regarding the messaging, what is the main implication of our study, is to tone down quite a lot the messages around the protective effects of alcohol for health. I don’t think that we can be advising people to use alcohol drinking at the moderate level as a health promoting strategy, as a health promoting intervention.”

Oh, okay. But we already knew it took 35 bottles a day to reach the possibly effective dose of resveratrol.

“All cause mortality and the case for age specific alcohol consumption guidelines: pooled analyses of up to 10 population based cohorts” British Medical Journal

Tasting note: “bitter clown tears”


This tasting note is no doubt better than the wine!

But, oddly, I bet it actually helped sales of the wine (assuming people read it). It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a store out there somewhere that posted only mockeries or send-ups of tasting notes. Would resonate well with the youngs. If anyone lacks creativity but wants to get started, there’s always the silly tasting note generator.

Via imgur

Q&A: Jean-Marc Roulot

roulot_meursaultI met up with Jean-Marc Roulot recently. Not only does he make the excellent wines at Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault but he has pursued a parallel acting career, with 52 credits to his name including Haute Cuisine (fire it up on Netflix during this blizzard).

In case you missed it, you can check out the Q&A I did with him over on

RIP SkyMall, purveyor of random wine stuff

Forget the ECB–the big business news of the day is that the parent company of SkyMall has filed for bankruptcy! Yes, the catalogue found “in the seat back in front of you” that peddled bizarre but somehow captivating objects is on a ground stop that may really be interminable. SkyMall loved pets–everything you never thought you needed for Fido and Whiskers. But they equally loved wine! So here, we immortalize for the ages some of that random wine stuff! Long live SkyMall wine in all its awesomeness!

Pets (animals) + wine! Amazed the pages didn’t spontaneously combust since this is such SkyMall hotness! Read more…

Burg surge: wine auctions 2014

Wine auctions around the world ticked higher in 2014. But auction hammers were coming down the fastest in the US, which surged 26 percent according to data aggregated by Wine Spectator.

They report that global wine auctions halted two years of declines to grow at a 4.5% rate to $352 million; the US accounted for $159 million, up from $126 million last year. Globally, Hong Kong sagged 7% while UK and Europe slumped 26%. Hong Kong retains the crown though as it bested NYC with $104 million in sales vs $84 million for New York. In the US, Hart Davis Hart in Chicago was the leader with $42.8 million in sales but Wally’s, a newish entrant, saw strong growth rising to third in the US thanks to the consignment from collector Roy Welland, which fetched about $11 million.

Online auctions tallied up $46 million in sales with the leader. Despite occurring in the US, these do not figure in the US auction total as compiled by Wine Spectator.

Sotheby’s was the wine auctions 2014 leader with $65 million in sales worldwide. Click here to see the handy table from WS in PDF.

Representatives from several auction houses commented that Burgundy had displaced Bordeaux as the top wine. DRC led the way but Domaine Leflaive, Rousseau, Comte de Vogüé, and Louis Jadot were among the Burgundy producers seeing significant volume.

As a Burgundy enthusiast, I lament the rise in interest of the region’s wines since there is relatively little wine to go around. We’ll see if auction interest ticks up for village wines given the low harvests in the region the past few vintages. Probably not, but the prices will undoubtedly escalate at shops anyway as others clamor for a taste of the precious pinot and chardonnay. For 2015, it will be interesting to see if the US remains the top market given the strong dollar. Probably.

On a related note, for the two major auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, wine is a mere canapé for the main course of art and collectibles. Driven by art pieces, Christie’s global sales rose 12% to $7.7 billion while Sotheby’s grew 18% to $6 billion according to Bloomberg. Christie’s is a unit of Artemis, owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault (who also owns Chateau Latour in Bordeaux, Domaine d’Eugenie in Burgundy, and Araujo in Napa). Sotheby’s trades on the NYSE with the ticker BID.

The fondue dilemma and the Swiss Franc surge

The Swiss franc surged in foreign currency trading yesterday as the central bank decided to stop defending the 1.20 floor with the euro. Last trade in the EURCHF was 0.99, so that’s a 20% surge for the Swissie. The CEO of Swatch was appalled at the currency move will likely send prices higher in foreign markets for the “Swiss made” watches. James B. Stewart, one of my favorite financial journalists, has an article in today’s Times examining the role of currency moves on various luxury products (and was kind enough to include a quote from Dr. Vino).

So, because I know you loooove talking currency moves even more than uncorking a good white wine from Neuchatel, what does the Swiss franc surge mean for wine? Read more…

Next NYU wine class starts Feb 4

wine_barrelsMake good on your new year’s resolution to learn more about wine and sign up for my next wine class at NYU. It’s open to all adult learners and, fear not, there are no grades so you don’t have to worry that your parents will be disappointed if they were to see a bad grade in a wine class on your transcript.

The course meets six consecutive Wednesday evenings, starting on February 4. We will explore some basics, including how to taste as well as understanding France and the US. We will also explore hot-button issues and topics, such as natural wine, wine auction markets, the role of critics, and how to navigate a wine list with confidence and style. Each class will have a tasting of at least six wines.

So what are you waiting for–sign up now! Hope to see you there.


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