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

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9780742568198: Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists
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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.

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About the Author:

Mike Veseth is professor emeritus of international political economy at the University of Puget Sound. He is editor of the award-winning blog The Wine Economist and author of several books on the business and pleasure of wine, including the best-selling Extreme Wine;Money, Taste, and Wine; and Around the World in Eighty Wines, which received the 2018 Gourmand International award for “Best U.S. Book in Wine and Spirits Tourism.” He’s currently working on his next book when he isn’t traveling around the world with his wife, Sue; speaking to wine industry groups; and looking for great wines and great wine stories.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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. (The Wall Street Journal)

I don't even like wine, and I found Veseth's book lively and engaging. (The Seattle Times)

Mike Veseth write about globalization and its effects on the wine industry, citing the popularity of cheap, branded products (Two Buck Chuck, most notably) and the subsequent backlash from “terroirists”- those who believe that a wine should reflect its local soil, culture and climate [...] He takes a look at China’s emerging wine business (its output recently surpassed Australia’s) and samples a few glasses from two of its vintners, one the country’s oldest in existence, the other a relative newcomer. (Forbes)

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)

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