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One of the pleasant side effects of being a wine professional is the opportunities that pop up involving our favorite beverage. Take, for example, one that arrived over the weekend.

A fairly large, fine-wine-oriented distributor was looking for volunteers to pour at their portfolio tasting on a Monday, in Manhattan, in September. Said the email:

“The work is pretty straightforward: They’ll need you from noon to 6:00 to pour wines; you’ll receive a fact sheet beforehand that will cover information about the region whose wines you’ll be working with. For your efforts, you will be compensated with a mixed case of their wines.”

Note that this email came to me under the auspices of a dues-driven association of New York wine media professionals, so my response needed to account for the fact that I am a member wine writer/blogger/communicator. That said, what do you think my reaction was? Here’s what ran through my head, roughly in order… Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Costco:

I was alarmed yesterday to learn from a colleague—the estimable Jeff Siegel, aka winecurmudgeon.com—that Costco has drawn a new line in the 100-point-scale sand, and henceforth will not stock any new wine retailing for $15 or under unless the wine has earned a rating of 90 points or higher.

Presuming this to be the case (and Curmudg is a professional journalist; I trust his sourcing), I must ask: Have you lost your palate and your mind? Was the Costco wine director sidelined by a sizzling hors d’oeuvre, or have you just decided to toss in the towel on having any sense of authority as a wine purveyor?

Setting wine-merchandising policy based on critics’ ratings sends quite the message to your customers and the wine industry. It says you don’t have the sense or sensibility to judge wines for yourself as they walk in through the wholesale door. It also says that corporate-Costco doesn’t have much confidence in its floor staff being able to express what they actually think of the wines they sell (note: not good for self-esteem). Read the rest of this entry »