Wine Words Of Wisdom

“They’re lying to you. They want you to be ignorant, clueless and easily manipulated. They’ve spent millions of dollars to inoculate you with a dreadful consumer virus called “brand anxiety.” They act as if alternatives did not even exist and if you point them out they call them “off brands from inconsequential players.” They take your money and give it to shareholders, ad agencies and guys named Louie with pinky rings instead of putting it in the bottle where it belongs. Who are “they”? Industrial Champagne producers (usually owned and operated by either giant liquor empires and/or luxury goods consortiums) who want you to think of Champagne as a “branded lifestyle statement” instead of wine.”

From the Wine Expo Holiday 2006 Newsletter. I don’t know how I got on this Santa Monica store’s (snail) mailing list, but I’m glad they found me. This 32-page newsletter – packed with witty and informative descriptors for several hundred mainly small production wines – contains some of the most passionate, certainly the most argumentative wine writing I’ve come across in years. Yet the author (presumably someone at the store) doesn’t even offer us his by-line. That might just be for fear of a midnight mugging: in this one newsletter, Wine Expo takes issue not only with “industrial champagne producers” but also “giant holding companies like Brown Forman, owners of Korbel, Bolla and Fetzer,” “heavy metal wines at jacked-up, Diva-filed pricing,” “that rag” (the Wine Spectator), “ultra-conservatives who insist on absolutes,” “a new rep to the wine trade,” “One Note Charlie Fruit Bombus Exaggerarti” and, of course, Robert Parker.

Wine Expo prefers to compare the wines it likes (and stocks) to music, to which end the same newsletter references The Archies, Alex Chilton, Bob Marley, Hank Williams, Djavan, Robert Johnson, Britney Spears, Thelonious Monk, Wynton Marsalis, and Chrissie Hynde. Wow. If this sounds like your kind of newsletter, write them at and ask to get on their (digital?) mailing list.

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