Drinks Cart: Mark Wahlberg is launching a tequila brand
Read to the end for Hope's opinions on Emily in Paris
Josh is out of town this week, so I’m taking over for him. I’m his sister Hope, an occasional contributor of wine memes. I work in wine sales and live in Bordeaux France, and since Josh told me I could do whatever I want, I thought I’d focus on some drinks news I’ve found interesting in the past few months.
Last week’s Snack Cart linked to this NYT article on fake booze, and I wanted to add a few more details. The opener mentions that the $1,000 bottle comes from a store called Acker. This isn’t the first time Acker (short for Acker Merrall Condit) has been found to be selling fake alcohol. Famously they auctioned off many bottles belonging to Rudy Kurniawan, one of the biggest wine forgers in America. This old article from New York Magazine is a great read about both Acker and Rudy, and I’ll always recommend the documentary Sour Grapes on the same subject. Both are excellent glimpses into a very specific world of very strange rich people. Recently Acker hired some smart people for their wine buying team, so hopefully they can rebuild their reputation a bit. But yeesh, this is a bad look.
Mark Wahlberg is launching a tequila brand, because every celebrity has a tequila brand. And it can be huge business - Teremana, the Rock’s brand, sold over 600,000 cases in 2021. Casamigos (the original celebrity tequila, from George Clooney) sold 1.1 million cases in 2020. Last August, the LA Times dug into some of the problems this rapid expansion causes in the larger industry-- from cultural appropriation, to a loss of identity, environmental concerns, to just plain crappy tequila.
If you want to read more about tequila, Vinepair looks at the myriad non-profits working in Mexico and wonders what inspires “agave activism.” Basically, they discuss how and why mass produced tequila tastes different from the artisanal versions and how fans are trying to preserve the flavors they love. Again, no one wants to drink bad tequila!
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Product Tip: I mentioned my troubles opening Champagne bottles in last week’s Snack Cart, but I rarely struggle to open a regular wine bottle. I recommend a basic waiter’s key. They’re cheap, easy to manoeuver, and easy to pack for a picnic or weekend away. Buy in bulk and you’ll never worry about leaving it at the Airbnb or holiday party. However, if you have reduced mobility, struggle with wine keys, or just like gadgets, this electric one touch opener works great.
Back in October, the SF Chronicle announced they would be hiring a second full time wine writer to focus on California. It’s increasingly rare for a paper to have any full time wine writers, let alone two. They just announced this week Jess Lander is joining the team. Lander has written some great stories in the past that have ranged from stories of wildfires in wine regions to the challenges of being pregnant as a winemaker.
Lander’s article about childcare and winemakers is worth reading just the pre-paywall snippet. Winemakers who get pregnant have some unique challenges, from working around harvest, to avoiding pesticides and chemical sprays, to tasting while visibly pregnant. I look forward to seeing what she writes for the Chronicle.
News you can use: A Sommelier Tastes 16 Box Wines
Sadhbh O’Sullivan at Refinery 29 (UK edition!) looks at the tandem rise of the natural wine movement via Instagram. She argues that the funky, visual labels and the studied nonchalant coolness of natural wines benefit hugely from the curated and aspirational aesthetic of Instagram, making natural wine more mainstream. I adored this and the different things she touches on: gender, elitism, drinking habits, all of it!
I’m probably too old to go back to grad school in Paris to master the art of “drinking, eating and living,” but who cares. Comment ça va, fellow kids?
I refuse to learn what NFTs are, and yet, here we are. Robert Mondavi, one of the most famous and biggest wine companies in California, is selling a wine NFT. $3,500 gets you a computer-generated image that you can “trade in” for a bottle of Mondavi wine, bottled in porcelain. Isn’t a bottle that you can re-sell, well, fungible? No, please no one tell me, I regret asking already.
The loss of smell and taste from Covid is horrible for anyone. It’s a unique torture if you smell things for a living. This article from the New York Times talks to oenologists, sommeliers, and perfumists suffering from anosmia, scared if they’ll ever be able to properly do their jobs (and enjoy their passions) again. Among the many, many anxieties of living through this pandemic, this one was never too far from my mind.
This is geeky but great- no one knows where 1/4 of all Russian wine comes from.
There was a lot I liked about this article by Emily Monaco in Whetstone about the changing dining habits of the French. Weaving in modern changes like delivery apps to the history of how meals were served in the 18th century is fascinating. However, I think many of these changes (less formal meals, takeout, eating on the go) are found mostly in Paris. In my experience, the traditional rollout of starter-main dish-cheese-dessert is still the standard for a nice meal at home or in a restaurant.
To combat binge and underage drinking, Ireland recently instituted a minimum retail price for a bottle of alcohol, wine, or beer. Scotland, who instituted a similar price model in 2018, found that initially it did lower consumption--until Covid hit in 2020, which threw off drinking patterns completely.
I do not watch Emily in Paris (I’m not against it! I just never bothered! This discourse is not for me!), but I know that a Champagne brand meant to be sprayed at events is one of her main clients. VinePair wonders if this could ever really happen. Honestly, I have seen worse ideas.
Out of Context J. Gold of the Week
The bistro! But of course! Dark wood and beveled mirrors, chandeliers and haze, rough red wine, soup a l’oignon and the caffeine-jacked mutterings of stubbly intellectuals who smoke stinky Gauloises and will nurse two fingers of suze-cassis until long after you’ve gone home to bed. - link