Wine Business Fears a Possible Disaster in Potential Trump Tariffs

In Honor of National Drink More Wine Day

Eric Asimov, The New York Times, reports:

the last month has passed in a blur of fear and dread as the industry contemplates the Trump administration’s threat to impose 100 percent tariffs on all wines imported from the European Union, along with a variety of other goods including foods, spirits and clothing.

Make no mistake, a tariff of that size, or any number close to that, would be catastrophic for Americans in the beverage and hospitality industry. A 100 percent tariff would double the price of wines in shops and restaurants, with disastrous ripple effects.

Consumers may be furious if confronted with a $25 bottle of Fleurie that has doubled in price to $50. They will have to adapt, or drink wines from somewhere else. But that hardly matters when compared with the American jobs that may be lost and the businesses that could be threatened if the tariffs go into effect.

The fear does not stop with importers. An entire chain of businesses are built around the acquisition and sale of European wines and foods, from distributors to retail shops and restaurants, and all the associated workers — not to mention dock labor, forklift drivers and others.

(click here to continue reading Wine Business Fears a Possible Disaster in Potential Trump Tariffs – The New York Times.)

The Dotard is about to fuck up another industry. Granted, he claims to have never had a drink, but I imagine Trump properties like Mar-A-Lago and Trump Hotel etc. make a lot of their annual profits on selling 1%ers and hangers-on overpriced bottles of European Union wine.

Thinking With A Dirty Glass (Variations on A Theme - Vernal Equinox)

A favorite local independent grocery (Green Grocer Chicago) said this in their newsletter yesterday:

Please be aware that the current administration is considering putting 100% tariffs on wine imported from the European Union on JAN 14 (next week!)

If this actually is enacted, it will change the wine industry in fundamental ways for all companies in the space (producers, distributors, and retailers like us).

If this comes to be we will have to tilt our portfolio towards wines from other areas such as South Africa, South America, and of course the good old USA that offer affordable wines at prices our customers like to purchase at.

My suggestion: stock up on Rioja, Chianti, Bordeaux, and other good wines from Europe this weekend!

Hmm, probably Cognac too. Damn it.

Season's Greetings!

Ganesha of the Wine Corks was uploaded to Flickr

embiggen by clicking

I took Ganesha of the Wine Corks on May 22, 2015 at 11:36AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 22, 2015 at 04:37PM

from Wikipedia:
Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions.

The Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet – A Planned wine bar for 736 W Randolph Street



Hmm. More wine drinking options in the West Loop are always good…

Thomas Powers, a sommelier, former director of Chicago-based KDK Restaurants Inc. (Jerry Kleiner’s defunct company) and the onetime owner of long-closed Harvest on Huron, plans to open a wine bar focused on American vintages on Randolph Street’s restaurant row.

Mr. Powers has signed a lease at 736 W. Randolph St. to open the Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet. It will sit across the street from Haymarket Pub & Brewery and Au Cheval, adding yet another element to the increasingly popular West Loop nightlife scene. Expected opening is late 2014.

Mr. Powers and his business partner, who declined to be named, have raised half of their needed $2 million investment from a group of about 40 individual investors. They have not yet hired a chef but have secured a beverage director, whom Mr. Powers declined to name.

He’s looking for a chef to build out a mostly small-plates menu featuring salumi, cheeses, oysters and a few entrees.

The 6,900-square-foot, two-story former warehouse is raw space. Mr. Powers’ plan is to build out the 1,700-square-foot first floor with 40 to 50 seats, 20 bar seats and 10 seats in a lounge.


(click here to continue reading Former Kleiner associate planning wine bar for Randolph Street – Crain’s dining blog – Crain’s Chicago Business .)

Kermit Lynch Knows the Terroir

Good news, if this trend continues; Robert Parker’s taste in wine is not my taste in wine…

For much of the last 35 years, the wine critic Robert Parker dominated the international wine scene. Parker invented the 100-point rating system for wine, and his reviews wielded such influence over sales that vintners everywhere worked to please Parker’s palate, making oaky, intensely flavored, high-alcohol wines. Kermit Lynch, meanwhile, through his wine shop in Berkeley, Calif., and also through his nationwide distribution business, chose to sell only French and Italian wines made in the unadulterated, old-school traditional style aimed at accentuating terroir — each vineyard’s unique combination of weather, soil and geography.

…Find a good merchant and let her pick out four or five bottles and then give the wines a chance. Try to be open-minded when you taste. A lot of people say, “I don’t know much about wine, but I know what I like.” Maybe you don’t know what you like, because you just keep drinking the same style. The wine world is pretty vast and diverse, and it’s not marriage. You don’t have to be faithful to one style. So don’t impose your comparatively limited experience on every wine you encounter. Try to understand wine styles you’re not familiar with.

Right here in Berkeley, I found a great winemaker, Steve Edmunds, working with Rhone varietals. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — I eat better in Berkeley than I do in France these days. My son now works for me, too, and he’s been talking about California wineries dropping the heavy-oak, heavy-alcohol style. He wants me to consider adding some to our portfolio, and I’ve given him the green light to scout around.

Q: Do you believe there are certain wines we should all be drinking? Or just that everybody should drink whatever they like?

A: Yeah — whatever you like, you should drink. But maybe you shouldn’t serve it to your friends.

(click here to continue reading Kermit Lynch Knows the Terroir –

Keeps My Mind Wandering Where It Will Go
Keeps My Mind Wandering Where It Will Go

Greek Wine Mug, With Horns
Greek Wine Mug, With Horns

Eliyahu Was Thirsty
Eliyahu Was Thirsty

Wine, Beer, and Espresso are good for you

Ode to Dionysus
Ode to Dionysus

Dark wine, hoppy beer, and dark roast coffee or espresso – sounds like my typical day’s consumption!

Excerpt from an interview with Jo Robinson on the topic of phytonutrient intake…

Tom Philpott, Mother Jones:  Now that we’re talking about my favorite stuff, we may as well discuss some of my vices. What wine grape varietals are especially high in phytos?

Jo Robinson: Almost invariably, most of them [wine grape varietals] are higher in phytonutrients than the one we eat fresh, table grapes, and the exceptions would be black and red table grapes, some of them approach the ones that we make wine out of.

MJ: Great. But any differences among them—say, cabernet vs. pinot noir?

JR: Of course, red wines are much higher in phytonutrients than white wines. In terms of reds, pinot noir is kind of middle of the road in terms of antioxidant activity, because in a way you can just hold that bottle of red wine up to the light and the darker it is, denser, the more phytonutrients it contains. So the ones that are really high are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. Also, oak-aged wines—oak has a lot of phytonutrients in it which gets into the wine.

MJ: Damn it. I like my lighter red wines. Guess I just have to up my intake! Is it true that hops in beer are excellent for you?

JR: Yes. Hops are bitter—and very high in phytonutrients. So the higher the hop content, the better the beer is for you, and the more bitter it tastes. What’s so interesting in this culture is that we’re very bitter-adverse, which means that we select things that are unusually low in phytonutrients. So the best-selling beer in this country, is Bud Light.

MJ: Red wine, check, hoppy beer, check. Let’s go for the triple crown of my vices. Coffee?

JR: Coffee is very high in something called chlorogenic acid, which is a good phytonutrient, and the darker the brew, the better. Espresso is particularly high, because it tends to be darker roasted.

MJ: Darker roasts are better…really?

JR: Roasting introduces another factor—it caramelizes some of the sugars in coffee, and that caramelization process increases the antioxidant activity. Dark-roasted espresso… is favored throughout many European countries.  

(click here to continue reading Cook Your Berries. Drink Dark-Roast Coffee Instead of Light. Let Your Garlic Sit. | Mother Jones.)

Bengali Tiger
Bengali Tiger

A Salute to Crema
A Salute to Crema

French Cows Drinking Wine

Wine Mug
Greek Wine Mug, with horns

Sure, why not? Animals drink various kinds of naturally occurring alcohol anyway…

The French are known to like their beef, and they also like their wine. In the southern village of Lunel-Viel, in the Hérault department in southern France, some farmers have taken the next step and are feeding wine to their beef cattle on the principle that if French beef tastes good now, it can only improve with a bottle of Saint-Geniès des Mourgues.

This was what a local farmer Claude Chaballier fed three animals last year – in a trial run that he’s preparing to repeat next month. He says the resulting beef was “lean, marbled and tasty”.

Two Angus and one Camargue were given a mix of leftover grapes, barley and hay before about two litres of wine were integrated into their diet.

Mr Chaballier says next month’s experiment will again use a regional wine and should help to develop the practice, although he insists that “it’s something that will have to remain local and small scale”.

(click here to continue reading The Mooo-ton Rothschild for madame? Cows have a tipple to beef up flavour – News – Food & Drink – The Independent.)

Mrs O'Leary's Butter Cow
Mrs O’Leary’s Butter Cow

Red Wine as a Probiotic Delivery System

El Coto Rioja 2006
El Coto Rioja 2006

Hmmm, sounds like a reason to have a lil’ bit…

In studies on animals, for example, scientists have found that components of red wine seem to improve intestinal health, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Research on human subjects is limited. But one recent study that examined the claim was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In it, a small number of healthy adults were instructed to avoid all alcohol for two weeks — a so-called washout period.

Then they went through three separate phases of 20 days each. In one, the subjects drank red wine, about a cup daily. In another, they drank the same amount of red wine daily, but this time with the alcohol removed. In the third, they drank up to 100 milliliters a day of gin each day.

What’s the best digestive aid? Join in the discussion below. In the end, the researchers found that both types of red wine produced improvements in the bacterial composition of the gut, lowered blood pressure and reduced levels of a protein associated with inflammation. Slight improvements in gut flora were seen among gin drinkers, but the effects in the wine drinkers were much more pronounced.


According to research, red wine may improve digestive health.

(click here to continue reading Really? Red Wine as a Probiotic Delivery System –

Wine Jug
Wine Jug

and a few more details from the National Institute of Health (since I couldn’t find the specific study at the AJCN, due to a combination of their poor search feature and researcher1 incompetence)


BACKGROUND: Few studies have investigated the effect of dietary polyphenols on the complex human gut microbiota, and they focused mainly on single polyphenol molecules and select bacterial populations.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate the effect of a moderate intake of red wine polyphenols on select gut microbial groups implicated in host health benefits.

DESIGN: Ten healthy male volunteers underwent a randomized, crossover, controlled intervention study. After a washout period, all of the subjects received red wine, the equivalent amount of de-alcoholized red wine, or gin for 20 d each. Total fecal DNA was submitted to polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time quantitative PCR to monitor and quantify changes in fecal microbiota. Several biochemical markers were measured.

RESULTS: The dominant bacterial composition did not remain constant over the different intake periods. Compared with baseline, the daily consumption of red wine polyphenol for 4 wk significantly increased the number of Enterococcus, Prevotella, Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides uniformis, Eggerthella lenta, and Blautia coccoides-Eubacterium rectale groups (P < 0.05). In parallel, systolic and diastolic blood pressures and triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and C-reactive protein concentrations decreased significantly (P < 0.05). Moreover, changes in cholesterol and C-reactive protein concentrations were linked to changes in the bifidobacteria number.

Conclusion: This study showed that red wine consumption can significantly modulate the growth of select gut microbiota in humans, which suggests possible prebiotic benefits associated with the inclusion of red wine polyphenols in the diet. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN88720134.

(click here to continue reading Influence of red wine polyphenols and ethanol… [Am J Clin Nutr. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI.)

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City Winery Chicago Moving to Randolph

West Loop at Night number 0142
West Loop at Night number 0142, approximately the 1000 block of West Randolph

Another new neighbor:

CHICAGO-Summit Design + Build LLC is underway on construction on City Winery Chicago, a fully operational urban winery and tasting room, restaurant with outdoor wine garden, concert hall and private event space at 1200 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop. The building is a former refrigerated food distribution warehouse built in the early part of the 20th century, is being renovated into a 33,000-square-foot contemporary winery and hospitality facility. Opening is scheduled for August.

(click here to continue reading – Duke Signs Leases for Three Industrial Tenants – Daily News Article.)

Francis Ford Coppola: Artists Might Not Get Paid In the Future

DaVinci Wine (or Whine, depending)
DaVinci Wine

Francis Ford Coppola is simply repeating what he has said before, Francis Ford Coppola Sees the Future For Artists, and Francis Ford Coppola Finances His Movie With Wine because it seems like the truth. Mick Jagger and David Bryne concur, btw: Mick Jagger and Internet Piracy and Death of the Music Industry, Rolling Stones Edition

How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce? We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

(click here to continue reading Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration :: Articles :: The 99 Percent.)


West Loop wine bar -Uva

Decaying Carnivale

Decaying Carnivale

Kevin Pang reports about who is going to move into the old Rushmore location:

Chef Mark Mendez, who left Carnivale last September, has revealed his next move: opening a Spanish small bites/wine bar with his wife Liz in the West Loop.

They’re calling it Uva, Spanish for grape, and it’ll be located at Lake and Carpenter Streets (1023 W. Lake St.) in the West Loop. His neighbors will include Next/Aviary and Maude’s Liquor Bar.

Mendez said he and his wife are working with Charles Bieler of The Gotham Project, who’s been working on a proprietary system of kegged wines on tap in New York City. Mendez will also be sourcing what he calls “oddball, small batch varieties.”

(click here to continue reading Former Carnivale chef Mark Mendez to open West Loop wine bar –

Wine Jug
Wine Jug

Reading Around on March 10th through March 11th

A few interesting links collected March 10th through March 11th:

  • Can't blame Perry for avoiding me at taco eating bash – "In a computer search, I discovered that since March 2, 2001, I have had at least 25 columns in which I've made references to "Rick Perry" and "hair." Now that's a lot of Rick Perry hair jokes. Now, that's not as many jokes as David Letterman has made about what the hookers are doing on Times Square, but it's up there.

    Also, over the years, I have done seven columns in which "Rick Perry" and "adios mofo" appeared in the same text. These were references to when Perry told a TV reporter just that. So after today, we're up to eight "adios mofos."

  • Sam's Club to Offer Wine in a Barrel – "Move over boxed wine — Sam's Club this week will begin offering wine in a barrel.

    The retailer will carry Sonoma. Calif.-based Red Truck Wines' new three-liter Mini-Barrel, a trademark- and patent-pending barrel design featuring the iconic wine-barrel shape, complete with rings, staves, a wood-grain look, and burned-in imagery and typography."

Wine as an Ingredient in Art

Just not quite in the way you might have thought. Sign me up! Sounds fun…

Ode to Dionysus

Artists over the centuries have chosen all sorts of seemingly unusual things with which to create their art, from ground-up roots, soils and foods to blood and even urine, as Andy Warhol so infamously proved.

For Matthew Lew, the chosen medium is wine. And his reason for taking the unexpected step is identical to that given by many when asked why they love drinking wine: its terroir.

Terroir is the French word for soil, but it means so much more than that. Terroir is a uniqueness rooted in a sense of a place. That’s important to Lew, who began a few years ago to use wines made around the world to link his work with specific geographical areas.

“It gives a different essence to the piece,” the Chicago artist explained.

A just completed painting, a Tuscan landscape, used two Italian wines, a 2005 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva, and a sparkling non-vintage Canella Prosecco di Conegliano.

His works are colorful, contemporary, expressive and often bold. Themes range from Buddhas and cityscapes to elegant abstracts. Sometimes, he’ll mix in a client’s favorite wine to give a commissioned piece a special significance.

[Click to read more: From wine glass to canvas, painter explores the visual meaning of terroir — Bill Daley at the]

Mr. Lew mixes wine directly into his acrylics, with a bit of randomness as a result. Richer colors sometimes but there isn’t a strict formula.

I just wish I had space to have a permanent painting studio in my apartment: I’d throw a splash of this Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2006 I’m sipping directly onto my palette just for fun. Frequently, the best art is a result of happy experiments and chance.

Vacuum Decanter

“Metrokane V1 World’s First Vacuum Decanter” (Metrokane)

I wonder how useful this vacuum wine decanter would be? Seems sort of cool, but I don’t often have dinner parties these days.

  • World’s first vacuum decanter maintains wine character until next pouring
  • Set features 52-ounce handblown crystal decanter
  • Also includes stopper with vacuum gauge and hand pump
  • Lead-free decanter eliminates worries about leaching into wine
  • Wash decanter by hand; 5-year warranty on stopper and pump

Wall Street Wine Club

I received solicitation from the WSJ Wine club in the mail, but wonder whether the wine is $4 a bottle swill or better. Hard to tell, really.

Breakfast drinks self-portrait

Some question the wine selection:

The Wall Street Journal announced today that it has created an online wine store, along with a wine club. Sadly, it looks dishonest from day one.

The Journal is not the first publication to try to leverage its supposed integrity into wine sales. The Times of London has had a successful wine club for years. The San Francisco Chronicle — the only newspaper in the US with a dedicated wine section — has been running one for the last couple of years.

Readers of the publications can wonder about how much impact the club has on editorial decisions. Will a wine get John and Dottie’s approval now because the Journal managed to acquire 5000 cases at a discount?

[From Wine Rocks: Wall Street Journal wine club: Looks like lies to me]

The initial offer includes one of those fancy corkscrews, and twelve bottles for $69. I am considering trying to see what’s included. My price point is usually around $10 a bottle, so perhaps I am a good target.

Wine Lovers See Red Over State Laws

We’ve discussed stupid Illinois wine shipping laws previously, but the problem is occurring in more states as well.


A handful of states in recent years have enacted laws that, while permitting direct shipments, include requirements that bar or discourage many out-of-state wineries from participating.

Besides Massachusetts, Arizona, Kentucky and Ohio have all passed laws that ban direct shipments from larger wineries, which disadvantages many vintners in big wine-producing states, such as California. Kansas and Indiana require residents ordering out-of-state wine to first visit that vineyard and show identification proving they’re of legal drinking age; Kansas requires consumers to make the journey each time they order from the same vintner.

Critics say these laws fly in the face of a landmark 2005 Supreme Court ruling that struck down as discriminatory state laws that permit in-state wineries to ship to local consumers while denying the same right to out-of-state wineries. At the time, 26 states allowed some form of direct shipping from outside their borders. These were exceptions to the nation’s so-called three-tier system, a patchwork of state laws that usually require alcohol producers to funnel their wares through distributors to reach a store or bar. Legislators created the system in the wake of Prohibition, partly to discourage overconsumption.

[From Business –] [Digg-enabled access to full article here]

And the reason for the ban:

Advocacy groups for wineries say local wine and liquor distributors have pressured state lawmakers into drafting laws that protect distributors, who fear a loss of revenue from direct shipping. “What the wholesalers really want is to preserve as much as they can their monopoly pricing power, which is considerable,” says Bill Nelson, president of WineAmerica, a trade group for wineries.