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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trade Tasting Reviews: philosophy

My reviews of trade events are just simply that: reviews. In fact, I review
the event and its effectiveness as a trade marketing tool, offering a mild
critique and awarding points for efficiency and overall achievement.

So far as I know, I'm the ONLY wine writer/critic on the planet doing this,
although there may be other blogs out there that try to perform the same
action. My writeups have been published since the year 2000 at and form the basis of a monthly email and fax newsletter,
which I actually SELL to make some money out of all this...

I date stamp everything for archival purposes, along with a notice of where
the event was held, who it was for, who the contact pointperson is, and a
listing of the wines that I cared for -- with pithy comments. I use the term
MVC a lot, which is an abbreviation for Modal Varietal Character. Why repeat
the basic description for Merlot grape/wine when you can use shorthand to
indicate what is prominent? Many Merlots do NOT have an MVC, others have a
lot. I try to indicate this.

I write up everything, even the events I don't like much. Since I write
about the event and not the wine, I feel I can leave out the wines that
don't turn me on. I throw in a quote I get from talking to people. Actually,
many people have come up to me at a trade function and tell me that they
agree (or disagree) with my assessment. It's all great fun, as these readers
get to compete with each other for a stunning quote.

I give great stress to the trade catalogue, since it is a listing of what is
to be shown. A good catalogue should be PORTABLE and easy to use with one
hand. It should have page numbers, some interior arrangement that meets the
flow of the tables, and ordering information (e.g., retail and/or licensee
price, grapes used, CSPC number, availability in the distribution channels,
etc. etc.).

This is not an easy matter to pull all this stuff together, so it takes time
to create a catalogue. I have been the victim of slapdash catalogues that
have been a house of horrors to use. I have had absolutely perfect
catalogues pitched to me. I have consulted (no charge for my time) on many
catalogues, to get them up to near perfection based on the wines available
in the room. The best catalogues have tech notes for the wine press. We eat
tech notes for breakfast....

The food: I always comment on the food, because in most cases the food is
for wine matching and pairing. It should be appropriate and serviceable.
Cheeses, no matter what the quality, should at least be at room temperature.
Yet most are stone cold from the fridge. Why? The bread should be above pain
industriel quality, yet modt times it is not, and often it is "sweet" bread,
crummy crackers, or even rye bread. Why? What does it cost to do just the
simple things?

I always leave a note on the downside, the bummer part of the show. Many
times the bad thing about trade shows is that the pouring staff (usually
agent reps, but also special purpose hirees) know next to nothing about the
wines, not even their availability. They plead ignorance, which is not
useful if they are the agent! Other times, the pourer will be from the
country of origin, and does not speak English -- and there is no agent
around at that moment. Communication fails. Sometimes these winemakers or
export directors do not want to give me an FOB price, from back home,
becasue this is privileged information NOT meant for the press...I always
leave an upswing note at the end, finding some positives about the event. I
always rate the event out of 100,
figuring that every wine person on the planet knows what THAT percentage is

So enjoy the notes that will follow in this blog...

Trade notes are also at

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