Saturday, June 7, 2008


As of Saturday, Salamanzar and the Grand Poobah Wine Swami have been ordained official clergy in the Church of Rosé wine.  As clergy of Rosé (i.e. dry pink wine vs. blush- the sweet awful pink stuff), it is our mission to convert the non-believers to Roséism.  Non-believers are defined as those who look at a pink colored wine and run away screaming because they assume it is sweet. Our belief is held on three principles as stated in the temple scriptures.  1. Everything pink in life is good; 2. Rosé is not to be taken seriously, but seriously drunk.  3.  When we meet someone who thinks pink wines are sweet, it is our obligation to teach them about dry-rosé. 

Our daily service ends with this prayer:  We'd like to teach the world to drink, dry rosé pink wine.  We'd like to buy the world a glass and keep folks happy all the time.  That's the pink thing. [repeat until the bottle is empty]

Rosé is just a color.  And these wines go by other names like Pink, Rosado, Vin Gris, Rosato, Kretzer, and Weissherbst to name a few.  Well-made pink wines are based on a red skinned grape(s).  They have all the best qualities of a white wine with some of the qualities of a red wine.  By letting the red grape skins soak in the wine for a short period, the wine takes on a pink color. If the same wine were to have the skins left in longer, the wine would become fully red.  Most rosé wines are fermented dry or nearly dry making them easy to drink, very food friendly, and a great compromise between red and white wines, especially in warm weather.  However, we preach year round pink drinking. 

You can read more of our thoughts on pink wine in an article in Fifteen-501 magazine.  Scroll to the bottom of the page when you get there.

Now seeking disciples... -Salamanzar

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

ABSOLUTely outrageous money

This just in.  Pernod Ricard, one of the BLCs I have referred to in the global world of wine and spirits, has just purchased Absolut Vodka.  Analysts projected the selling price might go around $7 Billion.  Pernod Ricard bought Absolut for...$8.83 Billion. Gulp.  More evidence that the wines Wine Authorities seek out, support and are passionate for, are literally just a drop in the ocean of BLC supported wines. -Salamanzar

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Locopops also Helps Your Wine Palate

Finally had some free time to get my first Locopops of the season (2600 Hillsborough Rd, Durham).  I had the tangerine/basil which was excellent, but also was intrigued by the plum/black currant pop.  These are two flavors commonly described in Argentine Malbecs and also found in some Cabernet Sauvignon based wines.  While it wasn't my favorite tasting Locopop of all time, it was excellent for identifying these two wine descriptor flavors.  

This pop was very dark in color appearing purple and black and tasted of very bright plum and currant flavors. Since they don't use sugar in their pops, this one actually had some tannin from the fruit's skins and wasn't particularly sweet tasting, but very fruity tasting.  We often talk about the fruit of a wine, but we do not mean it tastes sweet.  Fruit vs. sugar are two different things.  I'd like every wine drinker in the Triangle to please go buy a small plum/black currant Locopop and taste it so they can learn about these flavors and the difference between fruit and sweetness, please.  Maybe we should ask them to do a series of "wine flavor" pops and sell them at Wine Authorities as an "educational" tool? - Salamanzar

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Three More Durham Converts

Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Mike, Mariana and their 14 month old, Tommy, at the wine store.  They are self proclaimed foodies and serious wine lovers.  Today they live in CA, but soon they will be new Durhamites.  Mariana is a sommelier originally from Argentina.   Mike works in the tech industry and they have an opportunity to move to the Triangle since his company has offices here.  With the cost of living so high in CA they were interested in moving to NC to grow their family and as Mike put it, actually get ahead by affording a house.  

Their preliminary research led them to considering Cary and Raleigh for housing, but after a few days of driving around and hearing good things about Durham, they came westward to check it out and that's when I met them at the shop.  They had heard about Wine Authorities from people in CA, which was surprising for me.  After hearing their story, I preached the Durham gospel and in a few hours, they agreed Durham seemed like a better suited home for their lifestyle.  They wanted to know more.  I gave them a list of blogs to check out when they got home.  We also offered to spend some time with them on Sunday to show off the city.

Sunday we pointed out the finer points of Durham even further, and after a few beers at Tyler's in American Tobacco, they are leaving for California ready to make plans to move to Durham. They will be a welcome addition to the local scene of great people making up our fabric.

I love wine.  It's been a source for meeting some of the best people in the world. - Salamanzar

Market Watch Part II - The BLCs

The majority of the world's wine is controlled by the Big Liquor Companies (BLCs) around the world.  These empires make far more money selling spirits than wine, but having wine allows them to fill trucks, control restaurant wine lists and has relatively little additional costs since they already have warehouses, sales people, offices and trucks on the road.  Some of the BLC names include Diageo, Foster's Group, Constellation Brands, Bacardi USA, E&J Distillers and Pernod Ricard. Just how much money and control are we talking about here?  Diageo recently bought 50% ownership in Ketel One Vodka for $900 million and Bicardi USA bought the name and logo for Grey Goose vodka for $2.2 billion.  That's just the name, not the distilleries or the recipe.  In fact the recipe is irrelevant for spirits like vodka.  It's all about marketing and image.

Here are the top spirit growth brands of 2007 from Market Watch:  
  1. Smirnoff (Diageo) 9,290,000 cases 
  2. Captain Morgan (Diageo) 6,335,000 cases
  3. Jose Cuervo (Diageo) 4,290,000
  4. Crown Royal (Diageo) 4,150,000
  5. E&J Brandy (E&J Distillers) 3,720,000
  6. Grey Goose (Bacardi USA) 3,325,000
  7. Svedka (Constellation) 1,600,000
  8. Patrón (Patrón Spirits Co.) 1,580,000
  9. Seagram's Vodka (Infinium Spirits) 890,000
  10. Three Olives (Proximo) 885,000
Other top growth brands you may know in the list: Burnett's Vodka, Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita, Jameson, UV, Admiral Nelson, Pinnacle.

Again, these are not the top selling brands, just the brands with the most growth in 2007.  Remember there are brands like Maker's Mark, Jack Daniel's, Sky, Ketel One, Jägermeister, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo, Jameson, etc. still out there strong. 

When you add up the numbers involving spirits it's easy to see why the wine business is a side thought.  It takes pennies or nickels to make many of these spirits.  They sell for premium prices in the $20, $30, $40 or more range.  The top growth wines sell for dollars or at least under $15 in most instances and cost far more to produce per bottle.  

Most spirits drinkers are loyal to a brand for image, but are told they are drinking for flavor. Case in point the popular Tanqueray commercials right now featuring "Tony Sinclair."  The image they project is that drinking their gin is cool and therefore tastes better.  

BLCs exist in NC right now through wine on most retail store's shelves and in the ABC stores, but their presence is more behind the scenes.  They are working right now to get laws changed and move into NC in a big way.  We will most likely see the state run ABC store go away in the near future and then everything will change in NC when it comes to BLCs and their presence here.  We will see giant liquor warehouses move in, the price clubs will sell liquor and the wine playing field will change radically, dramatically and rapidly.

Fortunately not all wine is owned by the BLCs and you can find honest brands, real wineries and estate grown wines still in the world. That's what we do at Wine Authorities.  Our mission is to represent estate grown wines from around the world.  Most of these wines won't fit the BLC model.  - Salamanzar