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Wine News: Wine to stop Muslim radicals, naked vintners, Majestic up, Australia down, Sarah Palin to ruin wine conference

Posted by Torsten 07 Feb 2010

It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.

I don't know how this always happens, but again we have a few miscellanies on the wide and, potentially, attractive topic of 'women and wine'. 'Potentially attractive' would perhaps be a good way of referring to something I came across the other day on the website of the Austrian Kronen Zeitung. Every so often you will find men and women stripping in front of a camera, to produce a calendar that supports some good cause (fight against cancer, making money etc.). Recently, the Austrians got a dozen women (almost) naked to support the Austrian wine industry. Personally, I think Austrian wine is good enough not to need that kind of support, but the organiser feels that the calendar will support the marketing of Austria's good wine in a 'modern and personable way'. 'Who', she say, 'would be better suited for this than our own vintner offspring?' So they put twelve (almost, I hasten to add again) naked daughters of vintners in wine related surroundings (vineyards, cellars etc.), decorate them with stockings and all the like and think that this will help to improve the image of Austrian wine.

As if this was not already plastered with stereotypes, the author of the article (or paid for commercial, rather) could not resist the temptation to add that the vintners' daughters make for a 'sweet and mellifluous finish'. Go Austria, I say.

While the Austrians have at least managed to find some connection between their beauty queens and wine, the Americans are obviously believing that just because you once were a beauty queen you would be qualified to talk about wine. Or how else would you explain that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) invited Sarah Palin to be a keynote speaker at their convention in Las Vegas? Perhaps they thought that, as she can see Russia from her bedroom window, she knows something about Vodka? The WSWA say they are keen on hearing 'her analysis of the current political environment and her vision for America's future'. Na dann Prost, as ze Germans say.

For some of us, it appears, the vision of the future is indeed bleak (although, one hopes, not as bleak to expose us to more Palin). Britons are still scared about the economy, and so they choose to eat at home. Strangely though, they still seem to prefer not to cook for themselves: Britons turn to pizza and wine in bid to beat the recession. So pizza delivery is up and wine chain Majestic also sells more. Majestic are doing well, especially after they reduced the minimum purchase in store from twelve to six bottles. The Times features an interesting article on Majestic's new boss that also sheds some light on the UK wine retail business in general, a business that is more and more dominated by supermarkets and their cheap deals.

Supermarket wine promotions, the Guardian says, have damaged the reputation of Australian wine, thus increasing the pressure on Australian wineries who are already in serious trouble because of overproduction. 20% of vineyards, it is estimated, will have to be uprooted 'just to balance the books'. Others are in trouble too. Scotland's oldest wine merchant, Cockburn's of Leith, has gone in administration. Despite all this doom and gloom, the Daily Mail has simple advice for investors:

Was 2009 a bad financial year for you? Don't drown your sorrows in drink - buy a case of good wine and watch its value grow.

How useful this supposedly good suggestion is to Daily Mail readers one can only speculate, especially with recommendations such as: 'As with many assets, buying wine is easier than selling it.' An interesting fact comes up though: Annual wine consumption in the UK is now at 30 bottles per person.

The media is giving lots of (sometimes) good advice to the UK costumers. The Guardian has an article on Five golden rules for the supermarket. The most helpful suggestion has to be: 'Avoid bottles sold at "half-price" – the lure of such wines is only ever supposed to be their promotion excitement.', while the most amusing one is: 'Never risk a bottle with a bird, insect or animal on the label.' The Telegraph advises customers to switch to low alcohol wines to reduce the risk of breast and bowel cancer; specifically, they mention Mosel Riesling (rightly so, as it is low on alcohol and so very yummy).

Someone else is giving good advice too. A 'leading' philosopher urges Muslim radicals to drink wine to chill out. Excellent idea! Oh wait, Muslims are not supposed to drink! But I am sure that Muslim 'radicals' are happy to ignore that law on the urging of an Oxford don.

If this is what English academics have to teach us, maybe it is time to drown our sorrow in English wine. Luckily for the English, the domestic production is up - 2009 was a record harvest, both, it seems, in terms of quantity (3 million bottles) and quality (so the winemakers claim).

German academics teach us something else. Apparently, wine tastes better in rooms lighted in red or blue. This might be useful knowledge to all you winery marketing people out there thinking of redecorating your tasting rooms. Perhaps also add some 'comfy' music and perhaps a few girls, maybe from the Austrian calendar, to make the wine tasters even more happy? If you are really interested in this topic, maybe read Steve Heimoff' more serious post on whether it is better to taste alone, or with the winemaker.

Maybe it is best to end this posting with women and wine, yet again. I just read that a study commissioned by a beer company found that less than one in ten women would be brave enough to order a beer on a date, even though men think that 'a beer glass makes the women appear more sexy, confident, fun and independent.' However, women would ditch beer for other options because they think drinking beer makes them appear masculine and unattractive.

Does that mean drinking wine makes me appear feminine and attractive?