Archive - August, 2008

Calm before the storm

Pouring some Excellent winesImage by Ryan Opaz via Flickr It has been a little quiet around here, and that isn’t JUST because it took me a while to recover from twittering about wine until 2 am on Friday.

Firstly, I’ve been working on some thoughts on monetisation for wine bloggers which are being posted on the European Wine Bloggers Conference site (part 1 is live now, the next parts go up over the next day or two) as are part 2 and part 3 – part 4 is our discussion at the conference which I will report on after the event.

Secondly, the conference takes place this weekend in Rioja, in both Logroño and Briones (at the Dinastia Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine) from where we hope to be able to bring you some Live Blogging!

Unfortunately our internet connection will probably not support live audio/video streaming, but our friends from Vinus TV will be putting the materials recorded during the day live as soon as possible (I do hope Gema comes to the conference!)

A few of us will be trying to keep you updated through the use of Cover It Live, but as it will be my first chance to use it, I have NO IDEA how effective it will be, but head on over to the EWBC site and check it out if you can on Saturday.

I may be offline for a day or two, but hope to keep you updated here, or on the EWBC site, as to the build-up of the event, some of the wonderful wines we taste and the new friends I make.

Wish me luck!

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Ooh! I’m all a-twitter [updated]

I’ve finally gathered myself together enough to be able to post a round up of last night’s Live Twitter Tasting & marathon food matching adventure.

It was a real experience!

First, I need to thank my key partner-in-crime; Andrew (wine_scribbler). Andrew was the one who had received the Hugel & Fils samples in the first place, and also the one to come up with the ideas for the food matching menu (below). Thanks so much!

So, the story: The second edition of the Twitter Live Tasting took place last night as planned, and as we European participants had to wait until midnight for the tasting we thought we’d do it over dinner and tweet later. So Mex helped me to put together a stellar line-up of social media savvy guests to join the fun. We all wrote our thoughts separately and compared notes later – hard work, but fun.

[click here for more photos - thanks everyone!]

So, to the matches and my thoughts:
1. Hugel Tradition Gentil (aka Les Fleurs d’Alsace) 2006
Match: Scallops pan fried with white wine, ginger, garlic and chilli
The Gentil was a “palate tingling” experience. An interesting complexity of fruit flavours and a crisp finish that partnered very well with the delicate, yet spicy dish. Excellent!

2. Hugel Tradition Pinot Blanc 2006
Match: Red Onion or Asparagus Tarts with baby leaf salad (I bought these, I must admit)
I must admit that this was my least favourite of the wines as I found the nose and the palate rather muted. However, the wine coped incredibly well with the lovely tarts despite the egg, and in fact was all the better for the food match. Not bad but there was better to come, and I think there was a consensus to this effect between all of us.

3. Hugel Tradition Gewürztraminer 2006

Match: Fois Gras Mi Cuit with toast and fig chutney
The foie gras was lovely, and worked well with the Fig chutney. However, the Gewurtztraminer, with its rich, spicy, ginger and wild honey flavours, amplified things further. This wine and match was the star of the night I think. Interesting that the Gewurtz would be selected by those who had never drunk it before as you’d expect it to be one of the most challenging as it is SO different to the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio most UK drinkers are used to. I found this very inspiring and I look forward to sharing more unusual varieties with my friends in future. 5-star excellence!

4. Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2004
Match: Pork Medallions with Mustard Mash, Apples and Cider Reduction
I’m afraid I made everyone wait for this as I had been busy eating and drinking and not preparing, but it turned out OK and I’m grateful for my patient guests. The Riesling divided the table. Those of us who are familiar with Riesling, and the uniqueness of Alsatian Riesling in particular, I think really enjoyed it’s “petrol”, floral and hints of something rubbery and spicy at the same time. A classic Riesling for me. However, some were not as fond of this, and found some of these aromatics a little off-putting. I can understand that, but I have hopes that over time they’ll come around. The wine was very good, but maybe I should have decanted it earlier as Etienne later suggested during the Live Twitter, however it matched the dishes rich reduction and hints of sweetess well.

5. Hugel Gewürztraminer Vendage Tardive 2001
Match: Coconut Maccaroons [supposed to be accompanied with fruit salad]
By this stage the final train home loomed, so we missed the salad and jumped straight into the wine. Gorgeous wild flower honey richness and wonderful cleansing acidity and superb length. This was a great wine.

The LIVE EVENT:

Once the others ran off to their train and get home in time to participate (what stamina!), Andrew and I logged in to join the simultaneous tasting across the world. I know I chatted with people across the US, Spain, South America (?) and even China (hi there StrongTiger).

We did attempt a live video chat too with Yahoo Live! which was an absolute disaster, although amusing at times as we attempted to communicate without audio using signs and whiteboards. I’ll never do THAT again. Apologies to all those who were forced to listen to me alone as it seems I was the only one with working audio.

Lots of comments, feedback, differing views on wines and questions for Etienne which I think he handled pretty well considering the time delays and the occasional Twitter Fail Whale.

I will attempt to post some of the conversation here in a few days – I’m working with some friends on a solution.

A bit of chaotic fun and hopefully a bit of encouragement for readers out there to try some Alsatian wines with a variety of foods.

SOME THOUGHTS:
Twitter was a very important ingredient in this event, but not, I guess, in the way we might have expected.

Everyone wanted to experience this sort of event using Twitter, and this alone brought people on board who might not be as interested in wine alone. It also meant we could let people know about it, reach out to get more participants, build some excitement and coordinate our events. But the actual tasting on Twitter is a little too chaotic and complicated by refresh delays and limited space.

I wonder whether in future we need a separate platform alongside Twitter to conduct the Q&A section of the tasting, using Twitter to reach out to a broader audience?

Other, more personal ‘learnings’:
1. I need to plan the food more in advance so I can join in the conversations and not keep running away
2. We need to organise a separate UK/European edition at a more convenient time so more of our followers who cannot taste the wines themselves can follow the event
3. Mex knows EVERYONE! If in doubt, ask her for advice
4. Get more Moo cards! They are such a conversation topic of nothing else

Thank you ever so much to:
Andrew [Review 1], [Review 2]
Mex
Niamh [Review]
Lea [Review]
Kai [Review]
Annie [Review]
Sandrine [Review]
Jeremy [Review]
Lolly [Review]
James [Review]

And of course, a BIG thank you to Bin Ends Wine and Hugel & Fils for putting this event on.

See you all again soon I hope

Update 24/08/2008: I’ve added links above so you can read lots of other reaction from those present as well. Thanks everyone

Twitter Live Wine Tasting – UPDATE

This is becoming very interesting!

First of all, Springwise has selected this event to be featured on its site for trend spotters and entrepreneurs everywhere.

Second, the little dinner alongside the tasting that Andrew and I were going to hold, is turning into a 5 course banquet of delicacies for a group of 5 or 6 “movers and shakers” in London’s digital world. Identities are currently being protected to stop the groupies, other than mine, mobbing my front door :)

Lastly, I have found a few more sites that you might want to check out if you are thinking of joining in at all:

http://twittertastelive.com: set up by binendswine as the home of the events, presumably

Twitzu Event page: register your twitter ID here so we all know you will be taking part

1 Wine Dude’s Yahoo Live! Broadcast: unlike my event, Joe Roberts will be broadcasting his dinner party and tasting live (assuming all this twittering activity does not crash the whole internet)!

Hugel Wines and Twitter

I’m a sucker for wines from Alsace. I love the variety of styles, the rich flavours and the amazing expression that can come from just one small (albeit beautiful) region of France.

When I discovered that wines from Alsace would be featuring in an upcoming rather unusual live wine tasting, I thought I’d do my best to be part of it – and I’m glad to say I succeeded because this should be quite an experience!

THE WINES
These will all come from Hugel & Fils (www.hugel.com):

LOCATION:
What makes this tasting different from 99.99% of all other wine tastings happening in the world right now is that it will take place live, in Europe and the US, using Twitter and also, because it can happen simultaneously anywhere in the world, we are going to be able to be joined by Etienne Hugel himself.

[If you are not familiar with Twitter, it is a web application that basically is a cross between blogging, sending an SMS and instant messaging/chat. Very addictive! It should make the comments, and tasting notes, a bit of an entertaining challenge.]

TIMING:
The tasting will start at 00:00 UK time on the 22nd of August (that’s midnight folks!) because we are joining in with our US friends who start at 19:00 Eastern on the 21st).

I will be trying to stay awake and post my thoughts on the wine (and the food we will match them to) along with Andrew from Spittoon (see below) both on twitter and on this blog.

If you want to follow the tasting live you’ll need to sign up and ‘follow’ me (add me as a contact) and some of those below. My username is thirstforwine

Other that will be participating include (and there will be plenty more I’m sure):
binendswine (USA) http://www.binendswine.com
(the coordinator of the event)
wine_scribbler (UK) http://www.spittoon.biz
catavino (Spain) http://www.catavino.net
gabriellaopaz (Spain) http://www.catavino.net
1winedude (USA) http://1winedude.blogspot.com
dalecruse (USA) http://drinksareonme.net
winecast (USA) http://winecast.net
richardpf (USA) http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com

If you are a fan of Alsatian wines, or maybe you want to learn more about them, you can join us live, or look out for the report of the event. It promises to be a fun experience and a new way to share the fun of a wine tasting without the pressure

Airship Photos

I’m working on a post with some thoughts about beer marketing (you won’t be surprised it stems from my recent brush with Stella Artois marketing efforts) but in the interim, I thought I’d post a link to my photos so I can share them with those of you who have been following my attempts to get airborne, and those I met on the way that I promised this to.

Click here for the full set (click on the slideshow button for the full effect)



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