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Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists
 
 

Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists [Kindle Edition]

Mike Veseth

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Review

Fascinating... Political economist and blogger Veseth examines the wine world and analyzes its historical and present-day factors from the small to the large along with their potential impact on wine's future. He structures his overall argument into three major 'flights,' or selection of wines for tasting, the first being the effects of globalization. Looking at expansionist politics and economics, he examines retailing policies in domestic markets such as England, Germany, and the U.S. Veseth turns to the wine drinking market and its evolution, and the ever-expanding influence of wine criticism on both in the face of the rapid changes in bulk production. The last part of his analysis looks at terroir and the potential effect of climate change... Veseth's analysis is provocative. Publishers Weekly Seeking to view the global wine trade through an economist's lens, Veseth (international political economy, Univ. of Puget Sound; Globaloney: Unraveling the Myths of Globalization) takes readers through an engaging examination of international wine markets and the impact of consumers. Veseth carefully explains the construction of stores' wine walls, including the psychological, physiological, and economic impact of the placement of wines on them (think of reaching up for the 'top shelf'). Also included is an analysis and breakdown of the wine consumer market into distinctive groups, such as 'Satisfied Sippers,' 'Image Seekers,' and 'Wine Enthusiasts.' Veseth's basic premise is that the modern, globalized market now pits mass-made bargain wines against stuffy, epicurean standbys, creating limitless choices for certain types of consumers and turning the traditional model for what drives industry sales on its head. VERDICT This book will interest not only oenophiles but also general readers following the global economy or market analysis. Library Journal This is a serious book about the future of the wine industry that does not take itself too seriously. The writing of wine experts has long been lampooned for its pretension and incomprehensibility to the layperson. Veseth (economics, Univ. of Puget Sound) avoids these traps, although readers disdaining puns may wish he had not. He has produced an accessible, insightful book that shows he obviously has both intellectual understanding of and emotional attachment to the topic. His main intent is to address the potential benefits and dangers of various developments in the wine industry. Has globalization meant more choices at affordable prices or the homogenization of the choices facing consumers? How will climate change impact the traditional wine centers in Europe and the newly established regions in the New World? Will competition divide the market into a broad base of cheap wine in cardboard boxes for the masses and traditional wines costing thousands of dollars per bottle for a few elites? Veseth maintains his optimism, even if the prevailing mood is more dismal, and his optimism should be infectious for both wine lovers and those simply looking for an informative, entertaining book about the economics of a particular market. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. CHOICE Wine is, first and foremost, a business, though the nuts and bolts of economic survival rarely make for good reading. Enter Mike Veseth, who brings the mind of a trained academic and the writing talent of a veteran blogger to this fascinating exploration of the macroeconomic forces shaping the global wine industry. He knows his subject inside and out, and after reading Wine Wars you will have a deeper understanding of the major trends that are shaping not only the business of wine but the actual flavors of the wines you drink. -- Paul Gregutt, columnist, blogger, and author of Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide If we are what we drink, Mike Veseth knows the reasons have as much to do with market forces as mouthfeel. He is as at home with a winery's annual report as a vintner's tasting notes, and this delightfully unstuffy tour of the modern wine industry will fascinate anyone who wants to understand how business works today. -- Sasha Issenberg, author of The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy In the fine tradition of insightful and accessible bestsellers like Freakonomics and The World Is Flat, Wine Wars provides a valuable service to wine enthusiasts everywhere. By combining a clear-eyed economist's point of view with globalization expertise, Veseth offers an insightful and accessible survey that will give readers an understanding not only of what's in the glass, but also how it got there, and what the future may hold as the borders of the global wine village draw closer. This is an important work and a fun read, too. -- Jeff Lefevere, writer, Goodgrape.com Mike Veseth's Wine Wars is broader than simply a book on the economics of wine, but it definitely looks at the trends that shaped the global wine industry as it has become today from an economist's perspective... These stories are fascinating and informative... Anyone with an intellectual curiosity as to how all the factors came together to produce the wines available to us today will find much in Wine Wars to satisfy that curiosity. New York Journal of Books Written by a wine economics expert who lives in Washington, this book provides fascinating history on the globalization of the wine industry-and why that is not necessarily a bad thing. Veseth convincingly makes arguments for why inexpensive wine is not a problem and why the wine world is unlikely to collapse on itself. All in all, it is a comprehensive, well-written and glass-half-full book. Frankly, I learned a great deal about wine, how it is made and the history of many wine regions. I learned a great deal about the Chinese market, as well as the problems going on in France and Australia. This was a hugely entertaining and valuable read. Goodreads Of all the wine blogs in the wide, wide blogosphere, one that I look forward to reading the most is Mike Veseth's Wine Economist. There's nothing else quite like it... As of this month, Professor Veseth's thoughts are available in long form. He's just published a book entitled Wine Wars in which he tackles economic forces as diverse as Two Buck Chuck (he's a fan), the oft-debated descent of 'real' wine into 'McWine,' and much else. It's more business book than guide to wine-but students of wine as well as the economy will find much to enlighten and even entertain, thanks to Professor Veseth's readable style. Lettie Teague, Wall Street Journal A clear-eyed and expansive take on globalism and big business in wine. It's a welcome addition to the wine book shelf... For many writers, the wine business is handled as a dry, academic subject, but in the hands of Veseth (like Perdue before him) it's interesting and zippy reading (bordering on a fun vacation read) and an incredibly helpful primer for not only the newly wine interested to help them understand the wine wall at their grocery store, but also savvy veterans who have, perhaps, focused their learning in specific regions, not looking at the wine world in totality and from a business perspective. Good Grape Wine Wars is no dry textbook. Rather, it's a well-written story about what is-and isn't-happening to the world of wine. Every wine lover will find the stories and history of what is in their glass fascinating. The News Tribune Should wine be a beverage for everyone, or should it be an artisanally nurtured nectar, whose pleasures are available only to those with sophisticated noses and the deepest pockets? Veseth documents how these two contradictory approaches dictate what wines appear on shop shelves. The apotheosis of wine-for-all is the famous 'Two Buck Chuck,' a wine made ubiquitous in America by a German-owned chain of stores. At the same time that a mass market for wine has burgeoned, newly knowledgeable consumers have become increasingly aware of 'terroir,' the unique characteristics that come from wine grapes grown in specific soils and carefully bottled and aged to bring out their most distinctive and subtle qualities. Nevertheless, outsize profits lure vintners to make their products attractive to consumers of average taste. The appearance of new markets in China and elsewhere challenges small winemakers to expand or disappear entirely. Booklist Veseth takes a sideways look when discussing The Curse of the Blue Nun, The Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists (the sub-title of the book and the three sections in which is it divided). The first two parts help understand what's different about shopping for wine at Trader Joe's and Costco, and that was enough to keep my attention. Veseth is an economist and that's one of the reasons I subscribe to his blog feed... I wish there were more books like this focused on beer. Appellation Beer Mike Veseth has applied his economist's perspective, his understanding of global affairs, his clear understanding of the business of wine and his crystal clear writing style to assemble one of the best wine books of 2011... Veseth's analysis is thorough, sound and matter-of-fact. This is a well and tightly woven story, well-told by a creative thinker... A fascinating read, this book has pace, humor and insight. The Winesights Reader Veseth expertly presents the economic forces that are shaping wine consumption, and he frets about the beverage's future, particularly with the pushback seen by 'terroirists'-people who are obsessive about a wine's 'terroir,' that its identity reflect its unique growing conditions and place. The battle for wine's future isn't only about money, he posits, but also about power struggles between vintners, retailers, and governments... In his artful and sometimes amusing analysis of the 'wars' taking place within the wine world as a result of all these skirmishes. Veseth untangles a complicated issue and provides a cogent summary of an industry's challenges. For anyone who appreciates a good glass of wine-or who's been disappointed by a bad one, despite a high sticker price-Veseth's insights will prove tantalizing. Foreword Reviews Economist Mike Veseth is an authority on the global wine...

Product Description

Writing with wit and verve, Mike Veseth (a.k.a. the Wine Economist) tells the compelling story of the war between the market trends that are redrawing the world wine map and the terroirists who resist them. Wine and the wine business are at a critical crossroad today, transformed by three powerful forces. Veseth begins with the first force, globalization, which is shifting the center of the wine world as global wine markets provide enthusiasts with a rich but overwhelming array of choices. Two Buck Chuck, the second force, symbolizes the rise of branded products like the famous Charles Shaw wines sold in Trader Joe's stores. Branded corporate wines simplify the worldwide wine market and give buyers the confidence they need to make choices, but they also threaten to dumb down wine, sacrificing terroir to achieve marketable McWine reliability. Will globalization and Two Buck Chuck destroy the essence of wine? Perhaps, but not without a fight, Veseth argues. He counts on "the revenge of the terroirists" to save wine's soul. But it won't be easy as wine expands to exotic new markets such as China and the very idea of terroir is attacked by both critics and global climate change. Veseth has "grape expectations" that globalization, Two Buck Chuck, and the revenge of the terroirists will uncork a favorable future for wine in an engaging tour-de-force that will appeal to all lovers of wine, whether it be boxed, bagged, or bottled.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 421 KB
  • Print Length: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (16 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004UGMVNE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #319,307 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wine enthusiasts will enjoy it, although the focus is on mass wines, culture, and retailing 24 Jun 2011
By Sitting in Seattle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a wine enthusiast (see below) who eagerly awaited Wine Wars and read it quickly. It's an easy-to-read book with numerous interesting observations, anecdotes, facts, and speculations about wine economics and the operation of the global wine industry. For that reason, I think most wine lovers will find it to be at least moderately interesting, and will be rewarded by insight into the industry.

Among the interesting pieces are discussion of wine customer segmentation, dissection of the local supermarket wine section, discussion of the Trader Joe's and Costco effects on wine, and the interweaving of wine merchandising history with speculations about the future development of the industry. And there are various interesting facts about the wine markup at Costco, the relationship between Two Buck Chuck and German wine habits, and various brands and historical episodes.

The economic parts are journalistic, meaning that the author does not expound any economic theory, and much less any specific models, equations, or data. It's a readable narrative such as might appear in magazine articles, not at all an academic work. That's a good thing for a general reader, I suppose.

However, the book has a number of limitations that lead it to deliver less than it could. It is primarily about mass-marketed wines (both cheap and expensive) with almost no discussion of the role of boutique wineries. I would have enjoyed extended discussion of boutique phenomena such as tasting rooms, wine holidays, and wine clubs. The author's focus on economic relevance no doubt eliminated such wineries as insignificant players in the global business, although I would argue that these phenomena are both relevant to branding efforts (e.g., wine tourism in Napa) and of interest to the people likely to purchase his book.

That highlights a second problem: it is unclear exactly who the reader should be. One might suppose that -- using the Constellation Brands segmentation it presents -- the audience would be wine enthusiasts. Who else would be so interested in the topic of wine economics? Yet if that is the case, he misses the mark: too much time is spent explaining things that don't need explaining to that audience (such as "Carignan is the sixth most-planted red grape variety ... Have you heard of it?"). And as I noted above, topics likely to be of intense interest to them are mostly ignored. For instance, I would love to see an economic treatment of questions such as: how do tasting rooms play into the picture? why do ultra-premium wineries succeed or fail? should one "invest" in wine? was there a real "Sideways" effect? do enthusiasts really have different taste?

A final issue is that the book is occasionally repetitive, repeating the same description of the supermarket "wine wall" and similar things in multiple chapters. This reflects the fact that it has been assembled in part from the author's blog, but closer editing would be welcome.

In summary: if you're a wine lover, it's worth the price, is easy to read, and will lead you to think more about the global wine business, its mass brands, and how the mass wine market operates. However, it won't give you much insight into the ultra-premium world that may be of greatest interest to enthusiasts.

(Kindle note: I would have preferred to read this on my Kindle, but it was available later than the print edition. If you have a Kindle, you might want to wait for that version scheduled for July. The book is a straight-through, easy read, with no need to flip back and forth or take notes ... perfect for a Kindle.)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative 27 May 2011
By Judith A. Dickinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While selecting a wine will continue to be confusing with all the choices available, I feel much more informed and and educated after reading "Wine Wars". It's not often that a book is both entertaining and informative and wish I'd had it to read before visiting California's wine country, because I would have known better which wineries to visit and what to look for. It's also a great starting point for becoming an even smarter wine consumer learning how wines are priced, labeled and critiqued.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy A Copy! 14 July 2011
By john - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so informative, so useful, and so much fun to read that I wish I could say that I was the one who wrote it. Every wine lover should buy a copy. Great job, Mike!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forces at work on the wine wall 26 Sep 2011
By Bruce Larson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An insightful look at the world of wine by an economist who can write well! The book contains surprises (I didn't know that Great Britain is the world's largest wine importer), predictability (the role of China going forward), and fun (the curse of the Blue Nun). There is also some real economic thinking embodied in the work (but simply used and not belabored). The use of "the wine wall" as an organizing device for the book was a terrific idea.

Wine Wars can be read and appreciated by a broad audience. To me it falls in with a few others that combine broad and deep knowledge of a product, good writing, and a touch of economic thinking: The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade, and The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. I would also add Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful to the list.

This book is definitely ready to read. Drink deeply!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full Bodied Book 28 Aug 2011
By SiliconValleyGal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone who is interested in wine. Wine Wars is both informative and entertaining which easily kept my interest. The book helped me make some connections between the story of wine and economic theories that I learned in school. Don't worry... the book is not heavy on the economics. Mike even throws in some popular culture examples in his book. He got me curious about "Kami no Shizuku" so I actually ended up spending a weekend watching the series. (I'm feeling even more excited about my upcoming trip to Japan now. :P) I especially loved the international aspect of the book, which has taught me a lot of new things. Overall, the book was educational and definitely worth the read. Read the book and you'll know what I mean! I've recommended Wine Wars to all my wine loving friends.
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