Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 2/7/21

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Today was International Women’s Day, so there’s a lot of great stuff below focused on the women of the wine world.

Five Inspiring Women in the World of Wine
More names for us to know.

Xenophobia, Racism and Classism: The Sinister Roots of America’s Prohibition
Great history lesson.

Aria Dorsey of Folk and Rolf & Daughters in Nashville, TN, on a Year that Started with a Tornado and then Served Up a Pandemic
Tornado? Because the pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with.

In focus: How the drinks industry is tackling gender inequality – The Drinks Business
More of this, please.

Meet The Woman Bringing A Caribbean Twist To French Champagne
Breaking barriers is a good thing.

How much alcohol is in your wine?
Invariably more than it says on the label.

E.U. and U.S. Tariffs Suspended, Wine Professionals Hope for Refunds
Welcome relief. But refunds seem unlikely?

Domaine Faiveley and the Riches of Burgundy
An interview with Eve Faiveley.

Restaurant Wine Directors Worry About the Future
Eric Asimov talks with some of them

Wine influencers – the future of wine writing?
To paraphrase my friend Meg Maker: don’t confuse communicating about wine with wine writing

Shanghai busts 2000 cases of smuggled premium wines
Wine and ham trying to avoid paying taxes.

Bursting the bubble – meet the female winemakers who popped the patriarchy
More patriarchy popping please!

The Differences Between Dry Farming and Irrigation
Jamie Goode does some excellent explaining.

New Somm Group’s Language Challenge
The new somm on the block.

Lilia Perez brings an international perspective to her winemaking at RGNY
A young talent, though I wish the first thing we learned about her wasn’t what she was wearing.

Will Fish Sauce and Charred Oranges Return the World Covid Took From Me?
Retraining the nose.

Put a Cork in It? The Wine Closure Industry is Changing
Better and better.

Some Comfort for Wine Ponzi Scheme Victims
I’d call it “celler temp” comfort. Not quite cold, but close.

Sulphur Ye Not the Little Wines
A wonderfully dogma-free take on lo-no sulphur.

Interview: Christina Rasmussen, wine writer and co-founder of LITTLEWINE
A nice profile.

Wine Future 2021 Part 1: How wine needs to prepare for post-covid world
A nice summary.

New Burgundy Level Adds to the Chaos
Interesting new classification.

Interview with Ryan Opaz – Foot Trodden co-author
Simon Woolf interviews his co-author.

Pressure for ‘Argon taint’ to be recognised as wine fault
Satire without racism, sexism, or profanity. Imagine that?

Freezing Temperatures Hit ALL of Texas, Vineyard Damage May Be Extensive
There will be a lot more CA wine in Texas bottles soon.

Vaccinations for California Vineyard and Wine Production Employees Varies by County
Wine is essential, says the state.

What’s a Sommelier to Do When They Lose Their Sense of Smell?
Disability insurance, if you’ve got it?

California’s Wineries and Women’s Ownership: An Empirical Study
‘Study’ seems a bit grandiose. But glad someone is counting.

The Language of Tasting
More stimulating thoughts from Terry Theise on tasting.

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Restaurant Wine Evolves to Survive

By this point, every one of us has used up the euphemisms for just how far from normal we find the times in which we live. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably don’t need reminding of the dire straits facing so many businesses, but especially those in the hospitality industry.

I’ve been reading stories and hearing anecdotes for months about the near apocalypse facing restaurants across America, with estimates approaching 50% for the number that simply have not survived or will not survive the ravages of their pandemic-inflicted shutdowns. Indeed, on my masked weekend strolls around Oakland and San Francisco, I see more and more vacancies and boarded up windows instead of the usual array of cafes, takeouts and eateries.

Like many, I have been making a conscious effort to order food much more frequently from the restaurants I want to support. As outdoor dining slowly resumes here in California, my family and I will cautiously be making an effort to patronise those of our beloved establishments that have managed to hang on until now. 

Throughout the past year, like the rest of the dining experience, restaurant wine programmes have undergone massive changes as eateries have fought to survive, with restaurateurs, wine directors and sommeliers trying anything and everything to generate revenue in completely uncharted territory.

Continue reading this story on JancisRobinson.Com.

This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is usually available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and maps from the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.

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Sommelier Richard Betts Throws Away His Pin

Today, Master Sommelier Richard Betts told the world that he no longer wants to be a Master Sommelier. He is resigning from the Court of Master Sommeliers because he feels the organizations values are, and have been for some time, at odds with his own.

In Medium article posted today, Betts lays out the rationale behind his decision, which results from two factors, the Court’s approach to dealing with the cheating scandal that rocked the institution two years ago and what he describes as its lack of empathy for the current climate of racial equality and social justice.

“It is unacceptable that in some CMSA circles there has been rhetoric around not being a political organization and wanting to remain neutral. There is no neutral. By doing nothing, one passively endorses the status quo — and the status quo for BIPOC in America has been, and remains, horrible.”

Richard Betts

I have a great deal of sympathy for Betts’ position, and I applaud the principled stand he is taking at this moment.

Diversity has long been an issue for the Court of Master Sommeliers, which skews the same way as most of the wine industry: male, and white. The problem, it seems, may not merely be about demographics.

If you want a chilling individual story, I suggest you take a listen through this brave 10-minute Instagram video from sommelier Tahirhah Habibi describing two formative (and seemingly quite damning) experiences with the Court of Master Sommeliers America—one as she sat for exams, the other more recently in the wake of current protests surrounding racial equality.

As for the way the Court has handled the cheating scandal, I have to say I am among those who are not impressed with their complete lockdown and radio silence. Not to mention what seemed to be a draconian approach to dealing with the ramifications of cheating—an approach that wasn’t so much extreme in its initial conception as much as it was entirely unfeeling and inflexible in reaction to its community of members when they raised concerns and objections to how it was being prosecuted.

Betts is not just going out on a limb with this announcement, he’s jumping off it, at least partially in the hope that some may choose to join in his protest. I look forward to seeing what kind of solidarity he receives from his fellows.

Read Richard Betts’ resignation statement here.

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World’s best sommelier 2016: Arvid Rosengren


As of yesterday, the world has a new “best sommelier”! The winner of the 2016 ASI World’s Best Sommelier competition in Argentina is Arvid Rosengren!

Rosengren is the popular sommelier at Charlie Bird in NYC. Although he lives in SoHo now, he studied nanotech engineering in his native Sweden before switching to hospitality school and eventually working for a number of years in restaurants in Copenhagen, both on the floor and as a buyer.

On his blog bio, he talks about this recent competition:

I have spent considerable effort and time bettering myself by competing as a sommelier, which involves hard theoretical study, blind tasting of wines, spirits and other beverages and practical tests. My next (and final) challenge is to compete for the title of Best Sommelier in the World in Mendoza, Argentina, a competition put on by ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale) every three years. This year there will be 58 competitors, each having won the title of the best of their country.

He also wrote about the 2013 competition for Europe’s best sommelier on his blog.

While in Mendoza, his girlfriend Line “took over” his instagram to post updates. Very cute.

Rosengren is the second Swede to have won the competition.

World’s best sommelier 2016: Arvid Rosengren
World’s best sommelier 2016: Arvid Rosengren

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