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Trade-ing Up at NYCWFF 2017

DSC_0369New Panels and Upgraded Tasting Opportunities Beckon

By W. R. Tish

As the four-day Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented by Coca-Cola gears up to kick off on October 12th, members of the trade have more than ever to look forward to. On Friday, October 13th, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Trade Tasting Presented by Beverage Media will feature not only the traditional array of wine, spirits and lifestyle booths, but also three trade-specific panels:


Panel #1 – 12:30-1:15pm
Inaugural Clean & Sustainable Cooking Panel

Chef José Andrés, former White House Chef Sam Kass and moderator Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, discuss the environmental impact of cooking fuels as well as the inefficiency of our global food system, which wastes a third of the food produced and emits excess greenhouse gases.


Panel #2 – 2:00-2:45pm
Meet the Experts: Inside Celebrated Living’s “Platinum List” Awards

Experts including Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, New York Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis and Chef Michael White of Ai Fiori discuss the criteria they used in making their selections of leaders in the hospitality industry for these annual awards.


Panel #3 – 3:30-4:15pm
Raising The Bar: Are Craft Cocktails the new “Farm-to Table”?

Creative cocktails, expensive ice, fresh squeezed juices, homemade bitters, antique glassware—everyone has them now. So how do you set yourself apart? James Beard Award-winning writer Talia Baiocchi leads a panel weighing in on the best ways to shine a light on your bar.

NYCWFF16_FirstSelects_069Not the Same Ol’ Dram

Another highlight for the trade is the Southern Glazer’s Boutique Spirits Collection, also part of Trade Day. “It is a unique and important opportunity, particularly in New York, to showcase distilled spirits on the vanguard of the cocktail industry that don’t always get the attention they warrant but are some of the most well-made and versatile products available today,” says Allen Katz, Director of Mixology & Spirits Education at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of New York, who oversaw this year’s Boutique Spirits Collection. “They come from a range of suppliers, large and small, and will be featured in signature cocktails and on their own. It is one of the few places you will find this great collection all at the same place and the same time.”

Conveniently, the trade panels and special wine and spirits collections all happen under one roof, at Pier 92 on the West Side, on Trade Day. Other signature events—from rooftop soirees to intimate dinners, from the Blue Moon Burger Bash Presented by Pat LaFreida to cooking demos and hands-on workshops—will spread the food and wine action all over town, even into Brooklyn.

And over the course of four days, 100% of the net proceeds will go to benefit the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry (part of Share Our Strength). To date, NYCWFF has raised more than $10 million to support the fight to end hunger. n

The post Trade-ing Up at NYCWFF 2017 appeared first on Beverage Media Group.

Wine As Healthstyle

Clif-Family-WineryNo One Asks About Resveratrol, But They Still Care About Wine As It Relates to Health

By Jim Clarke


The conversation on wine and health has changed. Think about it: warning labels, promotional restrictions and on-premise health notices are all still in effect, but vestiges of last century—now barely noticed, hardly ever debated. Thanks to 1991’s 60 Minutes report drawing attention to a slew of medical research, the healthfulness of wine (especially red) enjoyed in moderation is generally accepted by the American public as a given.


What is important to remember, however, is that since suppliers legally cannot mention health-related factors in their promotional materials or advertising, by default that shifts the conversation to the point of sale. And with today’s society as health-conscious as ever, that means the particular role wine plays in our diets and lifestyle continues to come up, albeit in diverse ways, not always directly related to alcohol.


“I get women saying that sulfites give them headaches, or that they’re allergic to French oak,” says Brittany Hastings, Estate Sommelier at Meadowood Napa Valley, a resort and spa right in the middle of the U.S.’s toniest wine region. “I don’t try to discredit their beliefs, but I try to find a wine to accommodate them.” In an age of dietary needs and intolerances, the customer is still king, whether science is behind them or not.


We’ve all had moments where we’ve wanted to explain to the guest who only drinks white wines “because the sulfites in red wine give me a headache,” that white wines typically have more sulfites, but that is no way to make a sale. (Incidentally, the effect of a sulfite allergy is typically hives, swelling, and nausea, not headaches.) It’s frustrating when guests are misinformed, but one can certainly empathize with someone who’s concerned about their health and well-being.


Healthy Vines + Healthy Minds

In fact, many visitors come to Meadowood for their Wine & Wellness program, launched earlier this year, which combines hiking, spa treatments, meals and winery visits. “It’s easy to market to people who are concerned about the environment and what they’re putting into their bodies,” says Hastings. “We go out into the vineyard and see exactly how things are made.” It’s the farm-to-table spirit applied to the wine world.


The approach to wine and health here is not so much scientific as intuitive: Hastings focuses her program on organic and biodynamic producers. Wine marketing emphasizes the benefits of sustainability and organics in terms of the environment or a wine’s flavor and purity, but Hastings says many of her guests have made the connection between agricultural techniques and healthfulness, just as they do with food. “Obviously those chemicals are going into the soils, and in the long term, into the wine, and straight into your system.”healthstyle2


Lifestyle First

In retail, customer concerns might go beyond what’s in the wine, to what the wine’s in. The demographic here hinges on those for whom an active lifestyle comes first, and wine gets fit into it. “Cans, collapsible bottles [Tetra Paks], even boxed wine,” do well at Mondo Vino in Denver, says owner Duey Kratzer. With such an outdoorsy population, Denverites are looking for wines that are easily transportable: “You can take them to the park or go camping with them.” Glass bottles are not only heavy, but delicate in those circumstances. And wine is getting taken along, not so much for health benefits as merely fitting into a health-conscious activities.

Specific dietary demands can affect sales, if in mysterious ways. Vegetarians, for example, apparently don’t drink as much. “I’m not sure why,” says Amanda Cohen, chef and owner at Manhattan’s vegetarian destination Dirt Candy, “but it’s definitely true and other chefs have reported the same. We actually get about half our guests who drink as much as I would expect, and a few who drink less, but the graph gets really skewed because there are about a third who don’t drink at all.”


Facing this reality, Cohen tries to maximize her wine list’s appeal to guests who are looking to enjoy themselves, rather than those who are “hung up” on particular health issues.


That means making sure the wines on the list pair well with vegetables. She explains: “Traditionally vegetables get paired with white wines, and I actually think that’s so limited. My heart sinks when I go to a restaurant that specializes in vegetables and their list is just a bunch of Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. I’ve found that Greek and Italian whites go great with vegetables because they’re a little less structured than French whites, and something like a Coda di Volpe has some saltiness that actually enhances the flavor of the dish.”



Cohen says vegans aren’t necessarily even more reluctant to order wine, even though egg whites and isinglass (made from fish bladders) are common fining agents. The fact that she has many natural wines on her list also makes it easy to accommodate them. Other popular diets, like gluten-free or Paleo, also rarely run afoul of wine. The latter is based on our modern understanding of what our early ancestors would have eaten, and while there’s no evidence winemaking goes back to Paleolithic times, Dr. Loren Cordain, the diet’s creator, says it also can help people stay on the diet by giving them a place to indulge a little.


He also points out that, regardless of diet, “moderate wine drinking has been shown to have many therapeutic health effects.” Something to always bear in mind, in case your guests need a reminder.






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Behind The Labels

label3The Connection Between Alcohol And Health Is Being Played Out In Part Via Label Terms

By Amy Zavatto


Everyone knows “what’s in the bottle” counts, but how much does what’s on the bottle say about its contents? When it comes to the relative purity and healthfulness of wine or spirits, the answer is: surprisingly little.


Whereas Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require ingredient listing (in descending quantities) and a “Nutrition Facts” box (including calories) on food and drink labels, wine, beer and spirits fall under the aegis of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and operate under completely different rules.


The flip side of what must be on the label (the prescribed government warning about impairment, plus contains sulfites for wine) is what can not be—which is basically any health claims. Meanwhile, however, America’s health awareness has grown to become positively mainstream. Terms such as “organic” and “gluten free” (not to mention “natural” “sustainable” and so on), are the new normal at food and beverage points of sale from coast to coast. With vintners, brewers and distillers prohibited from making even health references let alone claims, there is more pressure on retail merchants to understand and be able to make sense of label terms for their customers.

What’s In A Name?

“If they imply a product is organic, they have to comply with USDA organic regulations,” says Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, which develops national standards for organic agricultural products within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those USDA regulations involve inspection and approval of everything from ingredients to production facilities to cleaning products used. Passing muster with a third-party organic certifier (NOP recognizes more than 80) will earn the USDA seal of approval—something you will see far more often on spirits bottles then wine labels.


“It’s a little more nuanced for wine because of the sulfites used in processing,” explains McEvoy. “To be able to label a wine as organic, it must use both organic grapes and contain no added sulfites. In the U.S., you won’t find much organic wine, but you will find a lot of wine labeled as ‘made with organic grapes.’” A producer stating the use of organic grapes must identify the third-party organic certifier as well.

label2It’s important to remember that while “organic” has come to be perceived as “healthy” in general society, producers in our industry embrace it not merely for healthfulness, but also quality. “We focus a lot on having highest quality raw material and the highest quality spirits,” says Robert Birnecker, distiller and co-owner of Koval Spirits in Chicago, whose products have been certified organic (and kosher) from the get-go. “We just saw organic grains and other ingredients we could source were the higher quality.”


“Gluten free” is another term that has proliferated in recent years. The USDA and TTB adjusted regulations on gluten-free usage in 2014. To break it down in simple terms: You can only legally label your product as gluten-free if you are distilling or fermenting from an ingredient that already doesn’t contain gluten. However, if a producer is starting off with, say, wheat or other gluten-ful ingredient, they may make the claim of gluten-free if the liquid has gone through a gluten-removing process and the final product contains less than 20 parts per million.


Biodynamic & Sustainable: Not The Same

The terms Biodynamic and Sustainable illustrate how things start to get more complicated. Biodynamic producers adhere to the holistic and agricultural parameters developed by Rudolf Steiner in Austria. The philosophy behind the system is that a farm/vineyard is a living, breathing organism, and so everything in and around it—the air, soil, water, sky, people, organisms, animals—affect its health.


Demeter International, the official certification organization for Biodynamic products, operates with guidelines even stricter than USDA organic regulations. While Demeter is not controlled by the U.S. government, like organic producers, Biodynamic ones must pass third-party inspection. For Demeter, that’s Stellar Certification Services in the United States.


The terms “sustainable” and “natural” both have a great ring to it, but neither has any legal standing whatsoever. Natural, as it relates to wine, has become a touchstone of controversy, though its actual appearance on wine labels is far less frequent than somm/blogger debates might suggest. Sustainable, on the other hand, has grown with avocado-like vigor, becoming recognized as pure and good-for-you.


More important, sustainability has been embraced, adopted and codified to varying degrees in multiple regions and nations. A growing array of organizations, like SIP (Sustainability in Practice) based in the Central Coast of California and LISW (Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing), help wine grape growers in particular to adopt and adhere to practices that are healthier for planet and people alike. But while they have inspectors, they are by and large non-profit organizations that rely on self-policing and not at all governed by federal (or state) laws.label_sidebar


In short, when it comes to back label seals of approval, they vary in degrees of meaning and legality, but they do all mean something good. So you can stock them and vouch for them as being from people who are trying to make their products as healthful as possible. And that counts for a lot in many consumers’ minds.


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Invivo Launches at SPiN

To kick off the launch of their wines in New York, Invivo invited guests to SPiN the Ping Pong club alongside co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron. “Glambassador” Nigel Barker talked about his love of the brand as he toasted the success of the New Zealand wine alongside Jay Manuel, Deborra Lee-Furness, Mat Targett, Miles Chamley-Watson, James Marshall, and more.



Tim Lightbourne & Rob Cameron of Invivo Wine Cheers with Nigel Barker



Invivo Wines Paired with Ping Pong to Launch the Kickoff



Deorra Lee-Furness, wife of Hugh Jackman, talks to the winemakers

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