Tag Archive - wine conversation

Wineries and Social Media

Here are a few more details on the talk I will be giving tonight for London Bloggers at Ember. I am probably not going to show these slides, they are more for my reference, but they might jog some memories after the fact! I will post the text of the presentation after the event.

Below you will also find a list of the wines we will be tasting, and the links to the winery blogs that supplied them for you to taste.

There is an added incentive to come along. There will be wine bottles to win for those who dip a toe in the wine conversation! Read on.

Wine Conversation 081209

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: wine london)

The wines we will taste tonight are:

  1. Vivanco Viura/Malvasia 2007, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco – courtesy of thirstforrioja.co.uk
  2. Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2007, Weingut Clauer (and if you are really nice to me, a taste of Riesling Auslese 2003, Weingut Clauer) – courtesy of winzerblog.de
  3. Higueruela 2007, from Sta. Quiteria – courtesy of tintoralba.com
  4. Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2004, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco – courtesy of thirstforrioja.co.uk
  5. Bellamarsilia 2007, Poggio Argentiera – courtesy of poggioargentiera.com
  6. CVP 2007, La Casa de las Vides – courtesy of casavides.com
  7. Syrah 2004, Cortes de Cima – courtesy of cortesdecima.com
  8. Antique Oloroso Sherry from Fernando de Castilla – courtesy of jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com (who also writes about sherry here)
  9. Special Reserve Tawny Port, Quevedo Port – courtesy of Quevedoportwine.com

And stay tuned for a series of videos we will be showing on the night. I shall link them up here tomorrow for you all to enjoy.

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An unusual kind of wine tasting

Ember

Ember

I hadn’t intended to write about this quite yet (I only just posted my first post for ages last night) but the London Blogger Meet-up Group has just announced an exciting event for Christmas which I need to tell you about now if you want a chance to come along (as I write, 45 of the 80 places are already booked, and that in less than 2 hours since it was announced).

[UPDATE 16:45 - unfortunately the event is ALREADY booked out - 80 acceptances in under 8 hours. How exciting! Keep an eye on this site just in case we can make arrangements for a few more, you never know.]

I’ve been in contact with Andy Bargery from Marketing Blagger for some time as he was the one who set up an excellent networking event for London Bloggers of any subject – in fact it was through this that I won my wonderful trip on the Stella Artois Airship a few months ago. That event inspired me to volunteer to “sponsor” a future event, to also give something back to my blogging peers, and that is what I plan to do on December 9th, 2008 at Ember, opposite Farringdon Tube Station.

I will give you more details on this site and on the meet-up page soon, but I plan on talking briefly about Wine Blogging - who we are, why we do it, and specifically what benefits it has brought to my winemaking friends. I hope to have many different wines to taste and I also hope to show you some videos from these bloggers presenting themselves and their wines. I bet they LOVE that challenge!

The wines to taste will be courtesy of: Winzerblog, Poggio Argentiera, Tintoralba, Quevedo Port, Cortes de Cima, Casa de las Vides, La Gramiere (although this is a long-shot) and, of course, my own efforts with Dinastia Vivanco.

(EDIT: through the power of Twitter my friend Justin will also be trying to locate some sherry to try!)

I will also be looking to hook-up with bloggers who do not write about wine to participate in my campaign to “reach out from the wine bubble” – be warned! I’m in search of your views on wine.

There will also be some money behind the bar for some free drinks, and I might even chuck in a Christmas present or two!

If you want a chance to join in, Be Quick! Sign up to the event.

See you there!

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“It’s grim out there”

Mr Lawrence Wine Bar, Crofton Park

Image by RobWinton via Flickr

Whilst entirely subscribing to the idea that recessions and “bubbles” (and now “crunches”) are to a great extent about a state of mind and driven by an irresponsible media (including blogs!), and therefore not wishing to add to the misery, I think it is important that bloggers are seen to recognise the real difficulties being faced by businesses in our various spheres of interest.

Even if our own jobs may not be directly involved, if we write about wine (or beer, or whetever) then we rely on producers, shippers, importers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, bars, pubs and a whole host of other suppliers. I get to speak to a lot of business people in my job, and there is a general mantra out there which goes something like this:

My business is theoretically fine, I’m doing the best I can, but I can’t be sure that other businesses I rely on will not suddenly fail, nor that some unforseen event will have a catastrophic effect on me. My customers are also not in trouble, but they are being very cautious and spending less, particularly after all the recent bad news. I’m holding on, but this needs to pass quickly!

Each reticent customer has a knock on effect on others up and down the chain; raising costs, slowing payments, spreading nervousness, eventually driving people out of business.

We are regularly reminded that the “engine” of the economy for the last decade or so, particularly in Europe and the US, has been consumer spending, financed by cheap credit and rising house prices. Oops!

So, as this is not (for good reason) an economics blog, does this have to do with wine culture and the wine conversation?

The long period of growth has encouraged the belief that things would always be good (anyone else remember the “end of history” comments after the fall of the Berlin Wall?), so the idea was to capitalise on this and “move upmarket”. “Premium products”, “Trading up”, “Luxury brands”, “Icon wines”, are all familiar terms, and it spread to all sectors. The UK, starting in London and the South East, turned its pubs into “Gastro Pubs”, more and more “Style Bars” opened up, and lots of “Clubs” emerged too. Unfortunately, everyone around the world has heard of British Pubs, but I doubt anyone really talks about British Bars.

Wine consumption in the UK is tied to this drive up market. Wine has been seen as a luxury product that those with the time, money and interest could get to enjoy, and therefore, as more of us felt we did have that time and money, we began to drink more and more wine. This was also good for business, because being a luxury product, these outlets could charge more for wine, including a healthier profit margin. In turn, everyday products, like beer, began to compete on price to drive volume, and the margins were lowered. It made more sense for pub owners to create spaces where rich, relaxed and unworried customers would want to gather to buy more luxury products. Spending on these “evening leisure activities” grew massively.

The result is that the local “community pub” fell out of favour to such an extent that they closed, were converted to upmarket outlets, or were sold off to developers to create more trendy living spaces.

Then, the new “Age of Austerity” dawned. It happened 3 months ago. With the credit crunch, possible recession and all its implications, those “rich, relaxed and unworried” customers have evaporated. One friend who runs a great local bar told that around 12 weeks ago the numbers of customers coming to the bars dropped like a stone. So how will they all survive? They won’t.

How do you convince a worried customer to go out and spend money that they are afraid of losing in your restaurant or bar? Well, you have to be part of the community, the place these individuals go to talk to friends about their shared predicaments. Unfortunately, many of these places are no longer community pubs where one meets friends, only ‘leisure providers’, and therefore something to be avoided.

There is no easy prescription. Bars and restaurants will struggle to attract a reasonable volume of customers willing to by the range of premium wines, spirits and foods in stock, so they are probably going to change their ranges. I’m afraid to say that the Wine Conversation will struggle. However, not all is lost.

A possible glimmer of hope, and it is faint, is that the drive to reduce costs and prices will be accompanied with a desire for value for money – after all why waste your money at all if it isn’t good value? It might encourage more places to price their better wines more keenly to at least differentiate their offering from others, and the search for these places will encourage more people to talk about “that place with the great value wines” that they found. Wine does not need to be a luxury product (as Tesco’s healthy wine volumes shows), but we do need pricing to reflect that it is now a firm part of the mix available in the on trade.

But, this is also a plea. Not for wine, but for local businesses. Times may be tight for you, but they are equally so for your local suppliers – restaurants, pubs, bars and shops. If you want them to survive, you HAVE to continue shopping with them, maybe diverting your money away from cheaper, but more anonymous, offerings from bigger brands. Support your local businesses as much as you can, and in turn you will see benefits, and hopefully we can come out the other side reasonably intact.

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Reaching out from the wine bubble

In the beginning there’s an idea. That idea creates a comment. That comment spawns a reaction, and eventually a conversation emerges. All is well with the world, and the idea spreads.

Bubble fun

After a while, the subjects have all been agreed, the channels of communication established, and the terms of reference accepted. The conversation gains lots of participants, but the range of the discussion doesn’t evolve.

Welcome to the bubble!

The wine bubble is already here! Fruit laden wine reviews. Points scoring. Winery histories, with “passionate” winemakers, “carefully selected” grapes, vineyards in “unique terroirs” and their “hand made” wines. There is a lot yet to be documented and recorded, and yet how much of it is new, and how much of it means anything to those who are on the sidelines of the conversation, or outside the bubble?

The wine conversation inside the bubble is necessary. We need enthusiastic analysis of the hundreds of thousands of wineries and literally millions of individual wines. However, we musn’t kid ourselves that any of this is really relevant to the ‘real’ world – the average wine consumer, or further still, the non-consumer.

I’d like to try and reach out, dedicate a part of the effort on my reinvigorated blog, The Wine Conversation, to exploring wine BEYOND the bubble.

What does wine mean to those who inhabit very different bubbles (after all, we all belong to various bubbles of some sort)? Film buffs. Knitters. History experts. Music fans. Photographers. Sports fans.
Gardeners. Travel writers. In short, to most of our friends who do not quite (yet) understand our fascination with all things vinous?

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but saved it for the new blog (good excuse!). I hope to go out and speak to these non-wine bloggers about wine, and see what it REALLY means to them. Should be fun!

The majority will be my thoughts on wine, in particular wine marketing and wine innovations. I’ll try and find new and interesting places where the wine conversation may have reached. I will also rant and rave against mindless legislation and bureaucratic idiocies, but I hope you’ll indulge me in this.

If there are things you think ought to be explored here, do leave me a comment or send me an email – I will do my utmost to respond.

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