New Gary Vaynerchuk Interviews at VinTank Office are Great

If you are a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk but haven’t noticed his “Into the Trenches” videos posted from the VinTank office, you should check them out on Gary’s Cork’d blog.

They are a nice change of pace compared to his WLTV videos. Gary is a great, engaging interviewer and gets some candid responses from his guests. (I haven’t had a chance to hear his SIRIUS radio show either, and wonder what the feel of that show is.)

Check out this interview with Sophia Montes from Marita’s Vineyard. The Montes family story, a version of the American Dream, connects with Gary who has a similar immigrant story.

maritas_garyv_video

I’m pretty late getting to these. I never said I was trendy. But take a look if you haven’t yet.

Looking for Feedback RE Our Recent Email Offers

We’ve been getting more and more offers for advertising to our mailing list. We try to send just one email per week to the mailing list. Currently we have what I think is a good opportunity to test some of our recommendation algorithms and also different formats for these offers, so I’ve been sending quite a bit more than one email per week.

If you received an email from us, I’d appreciate ANY feedback.

  • Did the emails interest you? Annoy you?
  • Did you get an email stating you were in the top 1% of recommended users for a wine?
  • What kinds of emails are you interested in? Offers? Site updates? Events?
  • What kinds of offers would you be interested in? Just specific recommendations? Any wine? Flash sales?

Thanks, folks.

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Embed Wine Badges On Your Site

We’ve just launched a feature to allow you to embed our wine data on your site. Similar to what you see int his post.

Just look for this image in the right side bar of any wine info page:embed_screenshot

We offer 3 embed types.

  1. HTML is the most flexible and should work with any site or platform, but the data is static.
  2. Javascript will get the most recent data from our servers.
  3. PHP will also get the most recent data from our servers, but may work better than the javascript version on some setups.

I will also be releasing a WordPress plugin this weekend that will make it even easier for those blogs to include our info.

If you have any questions about how to use these, let us know. If you start using our wine badges on your site, also let me know and we’ll showcase your site here.

Thanks, and enjoy!

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WineLog WordPress Plugin

Finally launching an official WordPress plugin for WordPress. We’re launching with two main features:

1. The ability to add “wine badges” to your posts and pages via a shortcode. Similar to this post. Here’s how you would do it: {winebadge id=”54195″} (use square brackets instead of braces)
2. The ability to embed “wine lists” to your posts and pages via a shortcode. So if you tag all of the wines at your event “myevent”, you can quickly post those wines into a blog post by using the short code {winelist query=”myevent” num=”10″} (use square brackets instead of braces).

Here are the wines from my fake event:

Users with a WineLog blog will have access to these features now. I am currently uploading the plugin to the WP plugins directory and will udpate this post with a link when that is available. Update: The plugin is in the WordPress plugin directory now.

Here are some other things I have planned. Let me know what you think about these and/or other features that would be useful for your wine blogging.

3. Popover form to embed wine badges and wine lists from the edit post/page without using a shortcode.
4. Option to create digest emails from your wine log feed once a day/week/month.

Notes About a WineLog WebComic That Will Not Be

I’m going through old old notes under my desk today (that’s for the prodding, Kim), and thought I’d post this bit that I scribbled into a notebook on a plane ride a couple years ago.

So here is a script for a WineLog web comic. I drew a little outline of the panels; it’s basically Kim and I sitting in front of my monitor. Use your imagination.

Panel 1
Me: I’m going to start a comic on the WineLog Blog…

Panel 2
Me: … so I can talk about all the funny wine-related things that happen to us.

Panel 3
Kim: OK, but it’s going to be boring.
Me: What do you mean?

Panel 4
Kim: Well, you’re not going to write about how I got drunk on my 21st birthday. And all your other wine experiences happen in front of a computer screen.
Me: That is true.

Updates to WineLog/Twitter Integration

We have recently updated WineLog to use Twitter’s “OAuth” integration. This means that users who have integrated WineLog and Twitter in the past will have to resync the services by clicking this link.

Users who haven’t integrated WineLog with Twitter yet can do so more easily than ever. Click here to log into Twitter and integrate with your WineLog account.

You will be asked to log into Twitter and authorize WineLog to publish updates to your Twitter feed.

As a reminder, we publish once to your feed for every wine added, rated, or reviewed. There are more options to control what is published to your Twitter account via your WineLog account page.

We are happy to make it as easy as possible to share your WineLog activity with your Twitter friends. This new method of authorization and updating is more secure than the previous method.

True Taste Wine Aerator

True Taste Wine Aerator SystemWard did an excellent write up on a bunch of wine aerators he tested. All of the aerators he tested worked by pouring the wine through a contraption that would basically mix up the wine with the ambient air.

Ted from True Taste Wine Aerator sent us a sample of his aeration system that works by using a pump to actually bubble air directly into the wine. In theory this will let you control exactly how much air you put into the wine.

I’ve only used it once so far, on a bottle of cheap $10 Arrogant Frog Lily Pad Pinot Noir, but the results were pretty spectacular. Although cheap, this wine was a good candidate for aeration because it was a little strong on the alcohol straight from the bottle. I used the True Taste to aerate directly inside the glass for 5-8 seconds and there was a noticeable difference in the quality and texture of the wine. The wine was mellowed as if it had been sitting out for an hour or more. And you could taste another level of flavors.

I’ve never used one of these aerators at home, so I don’t know if this is better than other systems. (Ward should be able to chime in soon, and I should be testing the True Taste vs. a
Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator tonight.) I’m excited to try this on some other wines to get a better feel for it.

The construction is very home-made (there is an extra battery slot that you need to leave empty that could be confusing). The tubing looks medical grade. There are a few pieces you need to squeeze together. It can look intimidating at first, but everything is easy to put together and clean up once you use it.

I found the box more visually appealing than the pump itself. Which is good because there are a few parts and you’ll need something to store them in. If, like me, you don’t have any more cabinet space, you’ll need to store it in the open. The box with the True Taste logo on top looks nice on top of our wine fridge.

Now you are going to look like a total nerd whipping this out at a party. But I always thought that the fancy glass pour-through systems looked a little pretentious… making you look like a wine snob. Wine nerd. Wine snob. Your choice. Maybe do the aeration ahead of time to avoid it.

Here’s an instructional video from the True Taste website. It will give you a good feel for how the device works.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The True Taste Wine Aerator System is $39.95 at their website. That’s some decent cash to put down for a device like this, but I think it’s worth it. I could see myself spending a bit of my wine money on something that would make all the wine I drink taste better vs. splurging for a nicer bottle.

So I’m sold on aerating. What I’m unsure of is if this is the best way to go about it. I suppose you could save money and decant it in advance, although decanters can get up there in price too and you do have to plan ahead a bit. And it’s possible other aeration systems are better. Again, I’m going to try the True Taste against the Vinturi, and will probably decant some for comparison. I’ll let you know how that goes. Chime in if you have a favorite aeration system or trick.

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Jon Newman Wine Dinner at Morton’s Recap

newmanwines_smThis post is mostly for folks who attended the Jon Newman Wine Dinner at Morton’s in Philadelphia last night. I’ll recap the wines we drank, but also talk a bit about Newman’s talk and the guest author Jeffrey A. Cohen.

Here are the wines: (or search for the tag newmanmortons2010)

Rigol 1897 Brut, Cava, Spain

Kingsford Manor Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Kingsford Manor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Mockingbird Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

All of these wines are current selections from Newman Wine and Spirits and so good QPR (quality/price ratio) wines. That’s Newman’s style; he’d rather “impress someone with an $11 bottle of quality wine” than a more expensive wine.  That fits right in with my wine buying/drinking philosophy.

Jon stayed apolitical in his talk, but did poo poo the PA Liquor Control Board (where he used to be chairman) for not allowing direct shipments in state.

He was a little sceptical of the rave reviews of the 2009 Bordeaux, wondering over the fact that Robert Parker and others have declared three different vintages this decade (2000, 2005, and now 2009) as “the best ever”. Are they really getting better and better at making wine over there. Perhaps. Jon talked about how he asked a wine maker over there (he might have pointed someone out by name, but I forget) why people are willing to spend $800-$1000 for a single bottle of first growth Bordeaux. The answer was basically that that wine is a status symbol… a way for rich folks to impress.

Meanwhile, Jon is focused on those $10-$20 bottles of wine.

He talked about the surplus of good wine that is available, in California in particular, and how the bad economy has lead to folks “trading down” to lower price points. People who used to buy $30-40 bottles are buying in the $20 price range. He said that consumers who step down like this, tend to stay there once they realize they can find good wine at those prices.

Especially in this market, there are great wines out there at lower prices. If you expand your options to regions like Spain, South Africa, and South America, you can especially find some good values. And if you get in the loop with folks like Jon or other services like Cinderealla Wine and Wines Til Sold Out, you can really get some great deals.

Another thing I love about Jon’s view on wine is that he’s all about “what can I drink now”? He said at the PALCB, they would survey customers about how long they stored the wine they were buying. The average response was not 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, or even 1 day… but 2 hours. I myself have probably held less than 10 bottles of wine for longer than a couple months. All of those wines were either gifted wines out of our price range or otherwise sentimental wine that we were saving for special occasions. It’s mostly in and out in our wine fridge. So reviews and buyers like Jon who focus on “what can I drink now” are valuable to drinkers like me.

Finally, I wanted to turn you all onto Jeffrey A. Cohen, a former Philadelphia trial lawyer and entrepreneur who’s writing fiction full time now. He’s a funny mafioso looking dude, a childhood friend of Newman’s, who introduced his debut book The Killing of Mindi Quintana at the dinner. It’s a story of a lawyer turned vigilante against one of his own clients. We all got copies of the book at the dinner last night, and I’m looking forward to reading this as soon as I get a chance.

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1 Wine Dude on Cahors Malbec

While I struggle to get my hands on a single bottle of the stuff to drink, 1 Wine Dude is actually in Cahors France (for the International Malbec Days festival going on) tasting and pondering on the Cahors marketing push.

The dude concludes (emphasis his):

Ignoring the discussion of whether or not enough Cahors wine in the tier is produced and exported to the U.S. to provide the ammunition for such a push, from my vantage point it looks like Cahors will be going head-to-head against Argentina in that tier, only with higher prices, more confusing labels, less market awareness, and (arguably) a less newbie-friendly taste profile.

The whole article is worth a read. So read it.

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