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First Look: Tesco iPhone Wine App

I was told about a clever new application for the iPhone that has just been released by Tesco in the Apple iTunes Store: Tesco Wine Finder

I recorded a brief video of my first trials – see what you think.

Seems pretty clever use of technology to me – combining label recognition (to save retyping details), social aspects such as sharing your review of the wine, and online shopping.

I will have a more in-depth trial of it, but at first glance this seems like a good way of encouraging consumers to look at what they are drinking a little more closely and recording the wines they liked for future purchase.

Disclosure: the application only works for wines listed by Tesco and I only had a couple readily to hand, so I have used one that I am involved in supplying to them, the Castillo San Lorenzo Fincas, for demonstration.

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Go with the cash flow

LONDON - JANUARY 5:  Chancellor Alastair Darli...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

… or “How I will do my bit for the economy of this country via the wine aisle

For the last few years, pretty much since I started blogging, I’ve had something to say about the underhand way that the government uses Duty on wine to line their coffers, usually at the expense of the consumer, but by implication also affecting everyone else in the chain, from retailer to producer.

I have tried to argue that our Duty system, with high taxes on EVERY bottle of wine, no matter how good (or poor), have little impact on whether consumers drink to excess, which is supposed to be one of the reasons to raise the price.

I have tried to argue that lowering taxes would enable producers to invest more in the quality of the product and their communication/marketing, educating consumers to drink better, and drink more responsibly.

To no avail, of course.

Earlier this year, the Treasury admitted in a letter (during a campaign by Le Beast wines, Harpers, Drinks Business and Off Licence News) that:

“…alcohol duty is an important revenue stream for the government”

and

“The alcohol duty increases announced at Budget were not designed to tackle problem drinking but they will play their part in ensuring we can continue to fund the Government’s spending priorities.”

It seems that the anti-alcohol lobby and politicians are allowed to use these as justifications for putting Duty up, but when they get the money, they can then spend it on whatever they wish.

So, I’m changing tack.

Let’s be realistic: If the government needs money to shore up our economy and get people back to work (or keep them in work), then they will be forced to raise taxes. They could*:

  • tax me harder on my income, thus making me have to work longer/harder
  • tax me more on stuff I buy (VAT), thus discouraging me from buying that ‘stuff’ and thus not making money OR,
  • raise money from me while I am enjoying one of life’s real pleasures; drinking wine

To be honest, thinking about it like this (as I did when I went to sleep last night), I would rather be paying them extra dosh while I have fun, not while I work (of course, in my case I’m doing both).

So, Mr Chancellor (or simply Darling as we will now call him), I’m not excusing you. You could still do A LOT more to support wine businesses, producers, retailers, consumers and the health of this country, but as you do not seem to be prepared to do this, I guess I will just have to do my bit for the economy of this country via the wine aisle.

I hope you appreciate it!

And, Darling, when we start to emerge from this fiscal black hole you have helped to get us into, I trust you will do the decent thing and engage in a proper dialogue about what is actually good for the many responsible drinkers in this country.

Now, I’m off to pay some taxes, … by the glass.

* Of course, I suspect they’ll do all 3 of course! Watch out for 20% VAT, higher income tax and increases on Duty as a triple-whammy

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The future of wine writing

Blogs and the future of wine writing

Blogs and the future of wine writing

I want to get a post up about my experiences of the Wine Future conference, but before I do that, I want to address something that has bothered me since the final session.

In that final session, Jancis Robinson said, in answer to a question about the future influence of blogs:

“… (there is a) huge generation of people … who are dying to communicate about wine and are very frustrated that dinosaurs like me, and my colleagues who write columns in the National Press, in Britain anyway, refuse to move out of our ‘slots’ and make room for them, so this is a natural place for a new wave of wine enthusiasm to communicate itself.” – Jancis Robinson, Wine Future 2009 (see mins 3:09 – 3:38 on the Vinus.tv video)

Someone else said pretty much the same thing to me at the EWBC.

I’d like to dispel that myth.

The vast majority of wine bloggers are not writing blogs because they are waiting, biding their time until they are “called” to take on the mantle of Wine Writer at the FT, Guardian, Sunday Times, etc.

There is a generation of wine lovers who are using the power of social media, through blogs, twitter, facebook, youtube, etc. to communicate their love of wine and their personal take on it. Some content is definitely better than others, and a very small percentage may be doing this with the goal of taking their place in the Circle of Wine Writers (as it exists today), but that is not what frustrates most of us.

I would argue that the frustration comes from the fact that we realise that there are lots of wine stories out there, whether from a consumer, producer or trade point of view, that the traditional media (mainly in printed formats) is incapable, or unwilling, to share. Instead of helping the wine industry, those respected, established writers who continue to make ‘old media’ their main/key/only platform, ensure that wineries and brands who might get involved with more creative, and arguably more effective, channels, are instead still wasting their money and effort on dead-end advertising.

Jancis, for the record, no-one I know thinks you are a dinosaur – quite the contrary! You are showing how it is possible for a wine writer to use the internet to VASTLY increase the number of wines and wineries you cover, whilst also building a business and a brand you can benefit from financially. We’d be ecstatic if more of your colleagues did the same, increasing the quality of online content, and giving consumers a greater chance to learn to love wine and wine culture.

We don’t want your job, we want you to want OUR jobs!

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Live Blogging from the Wine Future Conference in Rioja

I’m busy live-blogging the Wine Future Conference in La Rioja. You can follow along too, and see what we feel was coming out of the event:

From Bloggers to Gangs and the Future of Wine

I’ve only just returned from the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in Lisbon, but instead of collecting my thoughts and writing them up, I was straight into the next project which was to be the voice in social media of The Wine Gang at their first wine tasting.

The Wine Gang (Olly Smith, Tim Atkin, Joanna Simon, Anthony Rose & Tom Cannavan) asked me to help share information about the event they were planning with the world. It is interesting that more and more of the wine trade are recognising the possibilities of Social Media not just to do traditional things, such as get visitors to a show, but just to raise the profile of the participants (organisers, exhibitors, brands and even visitors). However, getting started is not easy, so I offered to help get the process started with The Wine Gang Live blog and even a twitter account @winegang – let’s see where these go from here!

Check out one visitor’s reaction to the event and how they learned about it:

The event took place last Saturday at Vinopolis and was a great success I believe. The exhibiting wine importers and retailers seemed happy with the orders and feedback they were getting, and the consumers learned a lot and tasted some EXCELLENT wines (Corney & Barrow had an excellent Nerello Mascalese called Passopisciaro – thx for the tip goes to Tim Atikin). It all means that The Wine Gang are likely to do this again next year, so keep an eye on their wine subscription site (I think there is lots more news to come there) as well as their blog.

I enjoyed meeting so many people I know in the trade, and to bring along some fellow bloggers. I also really enjoyed meeting some of my twitter friends in person (IRL as it seems to have become known). I have lots of video to edit and photos to sort through, BUT …

Tomorrow I’m off to Rioja for Wine Future conference with Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Gary Vaynerchuck and Ryan Opaz! (oh, and a few other speakers too). It will be an INCREDIBLY busy trip, but I will be live blogging the event with Gabriella Opaz so look out for lots of content about what these industry leaders make of the future of wine!

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