Does price affect your perception of a wine’s quality? What would it be like to travel around the world in pursuit of eighty wines? Why does the wide variety of wine negatively affect your buying choices? How can you identify value wines?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist, award-winning author and professor emeritus of the University of Tacoma at Puget Sound in Washington, where he taught international political economy.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- What is the role of economics in the business of winemaking?
- How did Mike get the title of The Wine Economist?
- How do you have an advantage in the wine industry as a family business?
- What is one of the major risks you take when drinking the product of amateur winemaking?
- What should you expect from reading Mike’s books?
- What parallels can you find between Around the World in Eighty Wines and it’s Jules Verne inspiration?
- How can you use the “is it worth it” index to identify value wines?
- Which regions should you look to for great value wines?
- How is Beaujolais a Black Friday wine?
- What was the concept behind Money, Taste, and Wine: It’s Complicated?
- How can price impact your perception of quality?
- Why does the wide variety of wine negatively affect your buying choices?
- Why did Mike split his wine and professor personas?
- Why did Mike start WineEconomist.com?
- Why did Mike get a standing ovation in South Africa?
- What’s the best wine advice Mike has received?
- Why should you challenge your perceptions about cork?
- Who would Mike love to be able to share a bottle of wine with?
Start The Conversation: Click Below to Share These Wine Tips
Because this business involves a lot of capital investment, time for the vineyards, time for the barrel ageing, you really want to know that when these wines are ready, will the economy be there? - Mike Veseth Click to tweet
I have friends that what they look for is the biggest markdown. But if you were looking for a used car and it said, regularly $20k but for you, only $12k you would say, what’s wrong with it? - Mike Veseth Click to tweet
The research suggests that when you see a price, your brain knows that the higher price ought to be justified by higher quality, so it begins to programme in an expectation of higher quality. - Mike Veseth Click to tweet
One thing that I think I was wrong about… is cork closures. I wrote off cork without knowing, without appreciating how much the cork producers would invest to resolve their errors and how much people love cork. - Mike Veseth Click to tweet
About Mike Veseth
Economist Mike Veseth (pronounced VEE-seth) is an authority on global wine markets who travels the world studying wine economics and speaking to wine industry groups. He reports his discoveries on this blog, The Wine Economist, and in more than a dozen books including Wine Wars (2011), Extreme Wine (2013) and Money, Taste & Wine: It’s Complicated! (2015). The newest book, Around the World in Eighty Wines, will appear in November, 2017.
The Wine Economist was named 2015 “Best in the World” wine blog by Gourmand International. Money Taste, and Wine received the 2016 Gourmand International award for “Best in the World” wine writing.
Mike Veseth is also professor emeritus of International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He is an authority on globalization and the global wine market. Mike was named Washington Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His 2005 book Globaloney was selected as a Best Business Book of 2005 by Library Journal. JancisRobinson.com’s annual book review named Wine Wars a Wine Book for the Year in 2011.
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 64!
You’re in for a special treat today in this conversation with Mike Veseth, known as The Wine Economist, and award-winning author and professor emeritus in Washington. He took an Around the World trip in Eighty Wines, Jules Verne style, to discover great value wines and the stories behind them.
This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video show so you’ll often hear me responding to a comment one of the viewers has made. You can join that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern. If you’re listening to this podcast on the day it’s published our next Facebook chat will be next week – mark it on your calendar.
I’ll put a link where you can find us next Wednesday in the show notes, as well as Mike’s website, books, social media handles and the video version of this conversation at nataliemaclean.com/64.
Now back to you. Why not make 2020 the year that you move from feeling overwhelmed with all the wines in the liquor store to feeling confident about every wine you buy and knowing exactly which dish will pair perfectly with it?
I can help you with that. Sign up for my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)?
Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!
Okay, on with the show!
You can also watch the video interview with Mike that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Mike Veseth.
Here are my takeaways:
- I admire how Mike makes wine economics accessible, even to the extent that he changed his first name to be more approachable to readers.
- I love how Mike structured his book after Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days, even down to starting just a few blocks away from where the character Phileas Fogg started in London, England.
- Unlike many other products, even agricultural ones, wine has a unique planning cycle given the vines don’t mature for seven years. That necessary long-term perspective is why there are so many family-run wineries.
- Mike describes Beaujolais Nouveau as a Black Friday wine when vintners get the cash they need from the harvest. He also makes a great point that Chile being known for value is a blessing and a curse, the latter because low prices aren’t always associated with high quality, and make launching premium labels more challenging.
- I want to avoid the biggest mistake Mike says we make: mistaking price for quality. It’s fascinating that MRI studies show the brain lighting up for happiness when subjects are told that the wine is more expensive.
- I’m definitely playing that game of how much would you pay for this wine with myself and others to get a greater appreciation of value.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips Mike shared. You’ll find links to Mike’s website, books, social media handles, the video version of the conversation and how you can join me next Wednesday on Facebook live in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/64.
Finally, if you want to learn why red wine shouldn’t be your default pairing for many cheeses, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Paul Mabray who says that the wine industry must adapt to social media and new technology or face digital darwinism. Find out what that means and the implications for you as a wine drinker next Wednesday.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine tastes twice as expensive as it costs!
Does price affect your perception of a wine’s quality? What would it be like to travel around the world in pursuit of 80 wines? That’s exactly what we’re going to learn from our guest who joins me live from Washington tonight. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest one review site @nataliemaclean.com And you’ve joined us here on the Sunday Sipper club where we gather every Sunday at 6:00 PM Eastern. That’s Toronto New York time to talk to the most fascinating people in the wine world.
our guest this evening writes about the fascinating intersection of money, taste, and wine. He has published more than a dozen books that have won numerous awards including the wine Wars, extreme wine, money, taste, and wine. It’s complicated. And his latest book around the world in 80 wines, he is a professor emeritus of the University of Tacoma at Puget sound in Washington where he taught international political economy. And prior to that, he earned his Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University. Today he’s known as the wine economist and let me just bring him in here and he joins me live now from Washington. Welcome, Mike Veseth the wine economist. Oh, hi Natalie. Fantastic. Good to have you here Mike. And now I’ve just, I mean you have such an impressive background. I’ve only hit the highlights, fill in the gaps and tell us maybe something that would surprise people about you, maybe that they, they wouldn’t know about you.
Well, I tell people that I lead at, I have a double identity. I’m, I’m really confused. I leave it. If, if you go onto Amazon or Google and you search for Michael’s thesis, which is the name my mother gave me, but then you get the professor this year, his professor, the guy who writes books about globalization and series of university textbooks and so forth. And then if you go to those same places and you look for Mike Veseth, then you get me the wine economist, the person that writes about wine and, and the, the difference, the split, the personality split was actually very intentional that, , when I started to get into writing about wine, I wanted, I didn’t want to write just for professors. You know, there are a lot of academic wine economists. There’s a European wine economist association and the American winding on this. And I didn’t want to write just for them. I wanted to write to people in the industry for consumers to get lots of feedback. And through a little testing we discovered that Michael Veseth didn’t get a lot of, replies and comments. People were a little intimidated by their professor, but Mike Veseth. Oh yeah, no. So he’ll be right up.
Well, Mike, I’m glad you’ve joined us and Michael has retired for the evening. That’s great. That’s excellent. All right, Mike. Um, so now we, we did, we did talk about this before when we did a shorter video, but please tell us the wine economist. How did you get that title?
Well, I learned that there was such a thing as a wine economist from a famous winemaker. It was a long, a while ago. I, when my wife Sue and I were newlyweds and it was so long ago that people without a lot of money you could take a budget vacation and Napa Valley. So that’s what we were doing. We drove from Washington state to California and we were staying in a budget hotel and, and not spending a lot of money trying not to spend a lot of money. And on the way back on the last day, we were driving up the Silverado trail and I saw this name and if I knew more about um, wines then that I wouldn’t recognize that it was the name of a winery that was kind of famous for that. The judgment of Paris that had gone before. Right. That’s only, we pulled in for one last tasting walk through the big Redwood doors and there was a cellar rat and the winemaker was here.
If I’d known more about wine, I would have known him. He was pretty famous but I didn’t know. So I just, you know, he poured the bullet out the courts and poured the bottles and you began to talk and I was sitting there end of a long day of wine tasting and was having trouble swirling without spilling. So I was working on that, asking these simple questions and he learned that I was an economist and suddenly he began to ask me very serious questions. He wanted to know about inflation rates because they were moving up in interest rates because they were 18 2025 30% and so forth. And it really made a difference again because, he, his business was, I’ve involved a lot of capital investment involve a lot of time, time for the vineyards, time for the barrel aging. You really wanted to know that when these wines were ready, would the economy be there with consumers, be there in a good situation to sell it? What was happening in the economy? The part that I knew about would affect whether his wine smell, what he could do in terms of making an investment and barrel and, and so forth, or what do you might have to do. And when I got back to our budget hotel in Santa Rosa that night, I sat down and said, wow, I think I just learned something. I learned that there is wind economics, that the wine is an art and a craft and a science, but it’s also a business.
Absolutely Mike. And, you know, I would just say, you know, given that vines on average takes seven years to mature, if not longer, people in the wine business have to plan really for the longterm. We’re talking seven years out. It’s not like this year’s sneaker style. it’s like decisions you make today will affect your bottom line seven, 10, 15, 20 years from now. And, um, I dunno if you found this in your travels, but I think that’s often why family businesses, do well in the wine industry. I know there’s been a lot of, corporate, you know, takeovers and so on and consolidation, but still families who look to that longterm, the economics I think work in their favor if they are always looking at that longterm vision.
Oh, it’s exactly right. In fact, that one of the chapters around the world in 80 wines, the chapter on Australia, talks about the unexpected importance of family businesses and some of them, the reasons, why that might be the case. So I think you’re exactly right. When you look at, other industries of the same size, other global industries, they’re not as dominated by family businesses as the wine industry is. That’s for sure.
Well, this is the most fun kind of economics I’ve ever encountered.
Economics with a glass of wine. Exactly.
Exactly. I love that I did an MBA, but it was like economics was never this fun, Mike. All right, So Mike, let’s, let’s, do a little bit of background storytelling before we dive into your books. Your fantastic books with the best titles ever that I’ve heard of. , let’s start with maybe take us to, the, the worst moment of your wine career. Let’s start there and then go, we’ll go low then we’ll go high.
Start at the bottom. Huh? Exactly. I am fortunate I haven’t had any tragedies. I’m not a winemaker, so I haven’t lost a vid and something terrible like that happened. I was, um, I think maybe the worst personal moment, was, both embarrassing and painful. It was a couple of years ago and a local group of amateur winemakers decided that they would host a charity event, raise money for charity. And they asked me if I would be a wine judge and I’m not a professional taster like you. I mean, they should have asked you, but, but instead, they asked me. So it was great. Immature judge and amateur winemakers and, and our team of judges, we tasted everything blind. They went back and tasted some more. And, and when we announced the winter, for example, the wine we chose is the best. This was the embarrassing part.
The best white wine wasn’t even made out of greats. Oh, what figs FIPSE. Yes. Yeah. It was good. It tasted like a Malvasia or a sideways w it was head and shoulders better than the other ones, but it was on, you know, people looked at us like we didn’t really know what we’d redoing, I could imagine, but not painful. The painful part came that night. All of us judges got horribly sick. I know of those amateur winemaking wine had some, must’ve had a bacterial problem, and so we all got food poisoning. And you know how you spend the night with food poisoning? Worst moment.
That’s a great story, Mike. Oh my gosh. Judging a homemade wine competition. You are a brave man. one was great then. Okay, so let’s go high now. What has been the highlight of your wine career so far? Well, I mean I’ve had
a lot of great moments. I really am a person. interesting. a book reviewer once started to review this as everyone should be as lucky as Mike VeSeth Nice. Why did he say that? No, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it seems like I’m in, cause I’m, I’m happy, happy with what I’m doing and this is a very nice, lovely, my best moment was, I think it was back in 2013 and I was invited to South Africa to give the speech at something called the Netter Bert auction. The [inaudible] is a winery at a school in BOSH and the, they have an auction once a year and they, they choose older vintages from the best of the South African wineries and people come in. The idea is that most people never have a chance to taste an older vintage. So they curate these things and, and auction them off to, through retailers and distributors and so forth from around the world.
And so it gets, gets the best of news of South African wine out where people can taste it and appreciate it. And every year they have one speech. And so I, I got the speech and it was interesting cause I was so darn nervous. I, you know, I was going to learn everything I could about South Africa and this point and that, and when I got to the end of the speech, according to wine enthusiast, which sent a reporter to cover it, it said that people stood up and cheered. And I think the thing they love is that I wasn’t telling them, you know, this is what you need to do to be. So that at the end of it, I suggested to them that, um, that the winds were great. They were really great and they are. Um, but, and, and what they needed to do to try to draw in the rest of the world for their wines is to do what they do best, which is something called a Bri.
Have you ever been taped? That’s a South African, is it a barbecue or barbecue? Yeah. Okay. It is the uniting force in South Africa that, that, , black and white and Indian and indigenous and everybody in South Africa gets together to enjoy your Bri. , their national day of unity is actually all dry day. And, and the idea that I think the idea that I would be seeing that, the thing that brings you together is the thing that can help propel you. Because there are brides to go with white wines and Brian or with red wines, everyone likes a barbecue or, right. So it was a, it was a, a moving moment. I was really moving.
Oh, that is, yeah. You remember that. You remember the things that touch you deeply that you feel deeply. , also reminds me of the Argentine equivalent of a saddo. So, I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that correctly, but yeah. Yeah. Very cool. so Mike, let’s, let’s go now to maybe perhaps the most memorable thing someone has said about your writing. I think you’ve, you’ve said something already that was really interesting, but is there anything else you wanted to add to that? Cause I know you’ve won lots of awards.
No, no there. I think, , once again, it’s, it’s, it’s a moving thing. , there’s, a winemaker in the South of France named Caro feely and she, she, runs a wine school and she and her family have a vineyard and she writes books about her experiences. Her newest one is called a glass half full, and it’s, I think it’s just come out anyway. So, um, she, a few years ago asked me to write a book blurb for one of her books, a little endorsement on the back of the cover. So I asked her to write one for, money tasted the wine. It’s complicated. And so she sent me the blurb and, and in the blurb, she said that she laughed out loud at some of the things I said and that, that’s how it’s good. And, but then in the text of the email that went along with it, she said it also made her cry.
Oh, it made her cry because although she’s living in France, she’s original, it’s a South Africa condition. She’s originally from the climb kuru this, this wonderful kind of remote area of South Africa. And in fact, money tastes in wine, ends in, in the decline crew with Sue and me in the back of a pickup truck going to a bride with the stars above us and everything. And she said that that, um, my, my description of that journey at the end of the book, made her so homesick that she just cried. And of course, that again, that, that touches me because the thing that I might be able to connect with someone that way, that, that closely is, is
you’ve already painted a picture too in the back of a pickup truck and the stars and everything else that it’s being there. It’s taking us there with that, that imagery. That’s, that’s, that’s just lovely. Um, all right. so let’s, let’s chat about your books. Let’s, um, would you like to start with your most recent one, Mike? Oh, sure. Okay. This is around the world. 81 wines. Excellent. Hold it close to your camera there and I’ve got a screenshot of it anyway that I’ll put up here. Excellent. So this is, um, so we know around the world in 80 days, classic book. So what is your take on this? What’s the concept? What’s the organizing principle, if you will? I’m, for the longest time I have been fascinated by books.
Take the reader on a journey because although the the the idea of, of this is it, you’re following the author through this and discovering something about the world, it seems to me that you’re always really interested in finding out something about yourself. And I’ve got up around the world in 80 days and Gulliver’s travels and Jonathan Reagan’s old glory and, and Mark Twain’s travel books, they’re all around here. It’s fascinating. And at one point I began to realize that Sue and I were on a journey of our own too, and we were discovering things about the wine world and things. That’s why I’m fascinated. Inspired by Jewel’s Verna. I decided to make his journey and to see to what extent, the journey that we’d been taking, , mapped up. But so that, for example, his, the journey begins in London at a place called the reform club. So our journey begins in London three blocks away and a wine shop called Berry Brothers and Rudd.
Oh, that’s famous in London. Yeah. Only wine for 400 years and so forth is that steep, the
start and the endpoint. And it follows him, follows an Affiliate fog, the jewels varying Bureau through, Italy to view through France in Italy. But then, when life gets complicated. affiliates fog has to get to as fast as he can around the world. And, and I’m more interested in accumulating stories and this is maybe the, the big difference is that, um, around the world in 80 days is w was, , designed to be this story of, man versus, and men in technology versus nature and distance and the idea that someone could overcome the challenges of, of moving around the world, a technological problem., for me, I, it made me sort of stop and think what is it I’m trying to find out about, about wine in the world? And I it just ended up on the question of why, why, why is wine so important? Why, why does, why motivate and excite and inspire people around the world doing this? I don’t have to cover the distance. I have to accumulate stories that reveal some truth about the importance and significance of wine and the people to their communities, to their families, to the world.
Oh, I love the concept. I love that. Following the footsteps of a, a classic journey, a classic novel, it’s, it’s fantastic. Um, what a great organizing principle, cause you do need that to hold together the narrative. , Beverly asks, um, Oh, so before I get to Beverly’s question, Elaine Bruce is saying, I am loving all of this. Yes, Elaine, excellent. You should stay tuned till the end of this. Elaine, um, Beverly says, how long did it take you to write this book?
Oh, V it took a, it took a little over a year to actually get the writing of the book done. But part of that is that, as we travel, I record a lot of, of my thoughts and so forth on my blog. The wine economists, it’s at wine economist.com. It, the wine economists started off as a way for me to have this exchange with people too so that I could try out ideas. , instead of trying to ideas and academic papers, trying out ideas, out in the open so that people could criticize them, make suggestions and so forth. So, so that, a lot of the writing of the ideas had been developed and then it’s a matter of sitting down. and that, that painful process of actually getting, getting words on a screen.
Yes, absolutely. So you treated your blog or your website, the wine economists.com, almost like a peer review site. The way academics would contribute and say, okay, you need to look at this, refine this, this question is unanswered. That’s fantastic that you,
it works really well because if I’ve got a good idea, I learned about it. If I’ve got an okay idea, people improvement, if as often happens, I have a terrible idea, I find out about that pretty fast.
Very quickly. Yes, as do I. I have a group that I call wine lovers for better grammar and they will tell me every time I’ve got a dangling participle or a comma misplaced, there’s a raging debate about the Oxford comma. Anyway, that’s going down a rabbit hole. okay., Laurie asks, what is, in your opinion, Mike is the best value wine? That’s a big question. I’m sure there are many answers, but where would you point us to as a wine economist for the best wine values these days?
Okay. So, best, well there are great wine values from a lot of places. It’s a matter of searching them out and increasingly looking, looking. We’re not expecting them, but I mean the the the um, the wines from Chile, for example, red wines from Chile have a reputation for very good value. It’s a, it’s in fact, it kind of a, as I talked about it in the book, it’s, it’s almost a curse cause they would like to be known. The Chileans they’d like me to be known for great wines and great values. People tend to think of them as great values. the South African wines, some of them, not that many in the market, some of them are sort of stunningly delicious or Chris that you would pay.
Absolutely. I’ve come across some recently by that tastes like almost like a Bordeaux, you know, it’s, and I’ve been recommending them, they’re like 25 bucks and they taste like a, like a, even a second, third growth Bordeaux. It’s like, wow. And many of them have had their tutelage in Bordeaux. It’s, it’s unbelievable the value coming out of there. And the refinement. And yet it’s a South African signature that’s on the line.
Let me, let me put in a plug for Washington state warrants. Yes, please. Yeah, because Washington state, there, there is a reason why California wine wineries are now investing more in Washington because they make wines that will remind you of a Napa Valley wine but it half or a third of the price.
Right. Absolutely. And right to that point, Mike, But how would you describe a value wine, Mike?
Oh, I have a colleague here, Lee. He’s, he’s French. And when he and his wife, Cynthia House and [inaudible] go to a wine tasting at, at events with me, they will, here’s, here’s what they do. They, they go around and then they taste the wine. And they don’t write down, 89 points or, or they write down how much they would be willing to pay for it. I love that. And then they look to see and if if the price is less than what they had thought they’d be willing to pay. So I call it the, is it worth it in there?
I love that. That’s brilliant. Awesome. I’m going to do that now. One. How much would I pay for this? Excellent.
There are some times when even though the price is very high, you taste that one and you think, wow,
this is priceless. Exactly. And people are always looking for that. They do the QPR, the quality-price ratio, and there was even a site, I don’t know if it still exists that does that. And they take for quality. They take the score, which is an approximation and relate it to the price. But I love that concept of how much would I pay for this? I love that. I love it., Like the whole boutiquey wines? I mean maybe it’s just a yes or no. Well, what we say in my part of the business is that what does someone do? You know what someone does if they have more money than they know what to do with, but not enough to buy a baseball team. Ah, they started a winery, we go there we go and this and that. I like that with that because I have friends that have started wineries. Yeah. I actually have a friend who owns part of a baseball team. So I, when I tell this job an of a lot of people,
but, but part of it is that this comes down to a matter of value that when, when someone starts a boutique winery, you know, they’ve got their heart and soul into it and as you bring and, and, and so they, they want to be validated. They want to have, their decision would be this validated and setting a high price because people confuse price with value, quality. Setting a high price is maybe something that they have to do for the economics, but more often I think it’s something that they want to do because they want to have this status, , that is associated with it. And about the idea that price and quality are the same, then we wouldn’t have that problem as much.
Absolutely. Well, if ego didn’t get in the way of a lot of things, we wouldn’t have so many problems, but that’s okay. We’re not here to solve all of those. We’re just here to talk about the wine world. So if you’re just joining us folks, , you’re here on the Sunday separate club. If you’re enjoying this conversation, please take a moment to share it. Add a comment as you do share because, um, we will be drawing for next week. If you’re watching the video replay, you still have a chance to do this for a personally signed copy of one of Mike [inaudible] book who joins us tonight, the wine firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of this session, I’m going to be announcing the winner of last week’s contest, a personally signed copy of the Vicon villages cookbook. You’ll also want to follow us yes. And, to get notified when we go live every time.
All right, so back to some more comments. Huge fan of that. why Mike? Few in the cellar in Ontario. Creekside broken press. The raw tastes double the price. Um, that’s, that’s Neil, Steven Andrews. Oh, you just disappeared. Your comment, they’re going too fast now for me to keep up with this. Okay. Um, Steven Andrews. Yeah, you’re talking about John Howard’s megalomaniac winery. That would be an interesting thing. And, um, okay. So Mike, let’s get back to your books. What, is there anything else you want to tell us about around the world in 80 wines? It’s your newest book. We can talk about some of your other books, but is there something else you wanna say about that one before we sort of talk about the other ones?
For me, it is an account of what is really quite enough. It seems to be a fascinating journey in an opportunity to think about all the different ways that that wines, art, , affect people and affect the world all around the world. And, I will say that this is a teaser for you, your viewers here that in around the world in 80 days, Jules Verne has a surprising ending twist because he arrives in London and he thinks he’s lost. We did discover that through some twist of fate, he has not lost at all. And so, so inspired by that, around the world. And 80 wines also has a surprise twist, which, I provided not only to, to imitate Jules Verne, but also to make it possible for every reader, no matter what their wine is, would be to come away satisfied with the conclusion. So you read the book, take a look, wait for that, wait for it as they say.
So to begin again at the beginning and to know that place for the first time, that’s Lord Alfred Tennyson, but you know, to, to journey through our senses, through the world of why this sounds like this is your book. And then to come back again more knowledgeable and yet to know that that sensory experience for the first time I, Oh, I need to dig into that. Oh my goodness. Okay. So Marie Johnson says, I have had a lot of new world wines that I can’t afford old, can’t afford or old world wines. So is that happening generally? Do you think Mike, that old world wines are becoming more inaccessible to more of us?
Well, no, because it you know, if you look at Bordeaux for example, yeah, everybody looks at the first growths and the second girls and the famous classified growth or dozing, and sure enough, those are very expensive. , I don’t drink those, but once or twice a year, because I have friends that like this year here, those sorts of wine. But in fact, you know, we’re no has 3000 wine producers and, and so there’s, there are different grounds and, and, it seems to be looking at, for example, the sales patterns at Costco, Costco has begun to sell more of them, affordable, more doughs that are now being produced in a more accessible style. And I, so I think that the winemakers in the old world recognize that the market for the very best wines is limited. And it’s not even a drinking market. It’s mostly are collecting some and versus drinking. People are trying to, people compete, people when they present the old word. So it’s a matter of looking for these things and looking to reviewers like you and others to help guide them because there are 3000 producers. What do you know? How do you know what to drink? But, so don’t give up.
Never. Never give up. Keep going. That’s it. That’s a great, uh, encouragement. Laurie says, what is Mike’s opinion on expensive wines? Are the prices Brett based on wine reputation, not necessarily the wine itself. So we touched on that a little bit. Anything you want to add to that, Michael?
It’s many of the studies of some people think, well, it must cost so much more to make than an, than less expensive wine. And that’s why it’s so expensive and, and really good wines are really the highest quality does cost more to me, but, but not so much that the price is based on what people will pay more than anything else. And so, um, you know, if, if you’re not if it’s screaming Eagle, I’m not that person who’s going to pay me $800.
Right. You’re not the customer. It’s not mispriced. You’re just not the customer. Okay. Wow. Oh, there are so many great questions coming in so quickly. One is wonderful. What else is there that has the artistry, history, and complexity? Agreed. Elaine, I’m Steven. Andrew says, your book sounds great. I am traveling to discover great wines at good prices that we do not get at home. Lots of fun if you can do it. And Steven is always traveling the world. He’s always logging in from somewhere different. Um, Greg Hughes. There is also, there’s also a region that is cursed like chili. Oh, Dewar. Oh, you mean in the past had a bad reputation. VIN Nieto campaign. Beaujolais comes to mind. All the old world. Yeah. People that had to re or regions that had to recover from something, I think even of Germany and the sweet wines, you know, and so on. So how does that impact,
Beaujolais was typecast. Yes. Longest time. They’d be so many people. So many young people especially, you’ve never tried a crew. Beaujolais are really wonderful wines and affordable too. Yes.
And entirely different from the nouveau, like confuse them and think all Beaujolais must be consumed within six weeks of release. But it’s not true. There’s ageable emotionally that’s released. I’m closer to Easter or April, March timeframe is when that comes out. Right.
So, you know, around the world for 80 wines, I talked about Volusia Lei and nouveau and I called nouveau a black Friday. Why? Oh, how timely. Why, why? Because it’s a discount. Yeah. I think it’s in Canada too. Is that the day that if a retailer can sell enough, there’ll be in the black for the whole year. If they can’t sell enough, well then they’re going to go, go be in the red. And, and for the longest time, what was your lay move? Oh, was that Black Friday wine? One point more than half of all Beaujolais wines were moved out and sell all of those. And often they sold them at a higher price than the Cru. Beaujolais sell all of those. It’d be in the black for the whole year.
It’s definitely a cashflow crop and Chateaux cashflow. Exactly. Yeah. Ah, I like that. That’s great., so some of your books are, well, all of them actually have intriguing titles, money, taste in wine. It’s complicated. What was the concept of that one versus around the world? There you go. Love the title, love the concept. What this began,
with the idea that an economist might be able to talk a little bit to consumers about how an economist would buy wine if economists thought about it a little bit. And so, for example, the very first chapter is called the wine drinkers. Biggest mistake. Do you know what that is? Tell us. Price and quality.
Ah, okay. All right. There you go.
And so I talk a little bit in here about some of the research about how well, that’s the case and why that’s the case and, and, and how it can lead to all sorts of errors. I point out that, the people, I have friends that when they go to the supermarket to buy wine, but they look for or with what is called shelf talkers slips with the points on them. And sometimes they have points. But I have friends that what they look for is the biggest markdown, you know, $20, but you pay only $12 or something like that. And so they’re, they look at the top number and they see, wow, that must be a really good wine. And they’d looked at the bottom number and they say, ah, okay, so, but you know, if they sold, if you found a car like that, if he were looking for a, used a used car and it said regularly $20,000, but for you only 12,000, you would say, what’s wrong with it?
Yeah. I have friends that when they see them, it’s like a trout going after a lure and they’re not themselves from doing that. And part of it is, you had, one of your, commentators earlier on said that they, they, they use the price. Maybe the price informs them of what to expect. And some of the research suggests is that when you see a price like that, your brain, first of all, is always way too busy. You’re always multitasking in that it’s always looking for shortcuts. And so when it sees a price, then it knows that the higher price ought to be justified by higher quality so that it begins to program in, an expectation of higher quality. And when they did these awful, um, I, I’ll say awful only because I would hate to be one these awful MRI studies where they put consumers in an MRI and they put a tube in their mouth and feed them wine and they’d tell them stuff. And when they, when they told them that it was, they took the same wine when they told them it was like a $12 wine there, the liberal part of the brain that shows happiness flowed a little bit. But then a little later when they told him it was a hundred dollar wine, same wine, you know, that they’re really big were it only thought they were happy, but they were actually
actually, we’re at least chemically who’s not. Money does actually buy,
are very limited. Right?
Awesome. So why do we fall for this sale deal thing in wine and not on cars? Why don’t we look at the wine that’s on sale and go, what’s wrong with that one or do we,
well, I, I think there are consumers that respond in different ways, tomorrow for example. But, um, I think, I think part of it is that, in other things, many of the things that we buy and we have experience with them where we, we, we know about them. But you know, you’re in a supermarket, there are 2000 different wines and you don’t really know what’s in that bottle or even if it’s, , sometimes if it’s a fine wine, you don’t really know that vintage very well. And so you’re, you’re working in the dark more than you are in a lot of other consumer goods. And so that means that all of this little bit of information is very influential. That’s true. But you’ve got to then overcome this idea that the prices, prices giving you more information than it really is.
Huh. That’s great. I always say there’s a reason we don’t have orange juice critics. Right?
That’s right. That’s right. Or, , you know, in my, in the supermarkets around here, they’ll often have a clerk that works around to help people make decisions. So I’ll, I’ll wine a steward. And so I think I point out that they don’t actually have milk stewards.
No, exactly. There’s no one saying buy that cabbage versus that one, you’ll be fine.
That’s what money tastes. The wine started off like this and then end it. It, it talks about to help people guide people through how to think about buying wine in a restaurant or, or hi, whether to invest in wine and so forth. And then in the later chapters, it’s a, I began to think of all the different places where money and taste are involved in, excuse me, wine tasting wine was involved. Then you add money to it. It changes. So
money changes everything. Okay. Steven Andrew says yes, absolutely. Says in your opinion, Mike, do countries generally set trade barriers for their wines and Canada uses wine to raise taxes so our wine becomes overpriced. Whoa. Deep economics here compared to European countries. Any comment on that?
Oh,, it in general, I would say that the wine trade is relatively free among nations. There, there are trade barriers and so forth. But, um, in the US we have, taxes on imports from other countries and, and Canada has, did you and Canada? I’ve, I’ve been fortunate to, in, I think it was 2015 I spoke to both the Ontario wine growers association and the BC winegrowers association in the same year. No, for you. it’s, it’s the regulations in the domestic market that are the greatest barrier. It seems to me from your wine in general, growing and blossoming the way I would like
exactly, like the fact that we can get a California wine easier than here in Ontario, then we can, and a BC wine is insane. It’s a grassroots industry anyway, preaching to the converted,
but it’s, it’s, it’s also a complicated,
yeah. Yeah, it is. All right. Alan Cameron, if Mike Rawan, he’d be a 99. The Gretzky of your guests, 100 is reserved for God. So you’re not going to get that. But you’ve got a very high score tonight. They don’t usually rate guests. Okay. So let us turn now. I can’t believe how fast this has gone, which is a testament to how interesting you are Mike. What I’m calling the lightning round. Okay. All right. So these are a series of quick questions and short answers because we just love getting tips and advice as we come to the finish line here. So what is the best piece of white advice you’ve ever received? Mike?
Know Myself. Trust thyself.
Exactly. Okay. What’s the one thing you were wrong about perhaps as it relates to wine?
Oh, I think I’ve been wrong about a lot of things, so, but, but one thing that I think I was wrong about that a lot of other people were, it’s cork closures. I think a dozen years ago I kind of wrote off the cork and I thought, well, you know, old screw caps are getting better and, and the synthetics and so forth, but cork, the amount of research and, and change that there has been done in order to improve court closures. Now they didn’t get, something called the helix screw. Cork in this, no, I haven’t. Google helix, cork and it, so it solves even that last problem. Now I’m a pork taint, even in less expensive. Quartz is virtually eliminated in the world and so pork is back. And because it’s a natural product, I’m glad that it’s back. I have nothing against, the other things. But so I wrote off for without knowing, without appreciating how much the court producers would invest to resolve their errors and how much people love court. I am
glad to hear that. I need to re-examine my own misperceptions or hangover perceptions of cork. Thank you for that. , what’s the most useful wine gadget you’ve ever come across?
Oh, I’m not a big fan of gadgets for me, but, but if a friend of mine earlier this year showed me some gizmo where you take a wine bottle and you put a thing in it and you put it up, harass upside down, and you flip it over, Oh, it gurgles back over. And so air rated wine goes back in. The original bottle wasn’t very expensive. And I could taste the difference. So I’ve got a gadget.
Okay, that’s good. If you could share a bottle of wine with any person outside of the wine world, living or dead, who would that be?
Outside of the wine world? Maybe Twain, because he traveled to some of these places, are, or jewels Vern. He can show us. I think that would be it. Yeah.
Hm. Excellent. Do you could put up a billboard in downtown Toronto or Seattle, wherever. What would it say?
Well, if it’s in Toronto, it’s easy. The Q a once, Oh, well many great VQ wines and Ontario and, and I, I’d love to see that, that industry explode.
Fantastic. And finally, what’s the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked? Because I’m collecting them.
Oh, the most interesting question I’ve ever been in. I guess it must be this one because,
okay. So that’s sort of circular, but that’s fine. That’s great. Okay. Mike, as we wrap up our conversation, is there anything we have not covered that you’d like to mention right now?
I just want to say how much I have enjoyed this and, and you correctly. And I’m, I’m looking forward to reading, , when the program is over reading the comments, your viewers have left.
Absolutely. Thank you so much, Mike, because we will, as they post their comments, you know, we’ll, you and I will both dive in there and answer unanswered questions, comment and so on. That’s part of the ongoing conversation that happens just not tonight, but you know, as the week goes on. And that always makes it great for everyone who’s here tonight. And so how can people best find you online?
Well, you go to wine economist.com yep. Write to me at email@example.com. Okay. Are you on Twitter as well? I’m on Twitter @mikeveseth.
Excellent. Mike, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for all of the insider tips. Uh, there’s just so many I’m going to take away and do myself from, you know, how much would I pay for this wine to look again at cork? Um, the whole gamut. It’s been very valuable. Thank you so much for all of your insights. All right, so we’ll say good night for now, but uh, we will be in touch again. You should be a repeat guest for sure. Okay. Bye for now. Okay, bye. Bye.