Cracking the DaVino Code with Wine Economist, Mike Veseth

Jul13th

Introduction

Did you know there’s a triple crisis in the battle for the soul of wine right now? Why do you need to master the DaVino Code? What makes some of the claims on “better for you” wines misleading?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with author and editor of The Wine Economist newsletter, Mike Veseth.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

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Highlights

  • What happened during “wine’s lost decade”?
  • Which main factors have contributed to the declining global wine market?
  • What might surprise you about the brand behind White Claw Hard Seltzer?
  • Which environmental and social factors have led to a triple crisis in the wine industry?
  • How did Mike imagine the wine wars playing out in Wine Wars II?
  • What’s the story behind Bellissima by Christie Brinkley?
  • What makes some of the claims on “better for you” wines misleading?
  • Which lessons can wine producers learn from the deconstruction of the soul of milk?
  • What’s the tasting experience like for Bellissima wines?
  • Why should you consider trying Creekside Cabernet Merlot?
  • What is the DaVino code?
  • How does the DaVino code keep out potential new wine buyers?
  • What do you need to know about the battle between Martians and Wagnerians?
  • Which wine would Mike love to be able to share with Mark Twain?
  • Why is Mike a big advocate for drinking locally?
  • Which wine would Mike want to be served at his funeral and why?

 

Key Takeaways

  • Mike illuminates the triple crisis in the battle for the soul of wine right now with great examples.
  • I love his concept of the DaVino Code for better understanding wine.
  • He makes a great point about why some of the claims on “better for you” wines are so misleading.

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About Mike Veseth

Mike Veseth is editor of The Wine Economist newsletter (WineEconomist.com) and author of more than a dozen books including Wine Wars (2011), Around the World in Eighty Wines (2018) and Wine Wars II: The Global Battle for the Soul of Wine (2022). He is a sought-after speaker at wine industry meetings both in the United States and around the world.

Veseth’s writings on wine and globalization have been widely praised. Globaloney was selected as a Best Business Book of 2005. Wine Wars was chosen a Best Wine Book of 2011. The Wine Economist was named Best Wine Blog by Gourmand International in 2015. Money, Taste, and Wine: It’s Complicated received the 2016 Gourmand International award for Best Wine Writing. Around the World in Eighty Wines was named one of the 100 best wine books of all time by BookAuthority.org.

A noted educator, Veseth is professor emeritus of International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. In 2010 he was named Washington State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Veseth received the Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Puget Sound and the Master’s and Ph.D degrees in Economics from Purdue University.

 

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Transcript

Mike Veseth  0:00  

The DaVino code is making a play on the Da Vinci Code, free to put myself in the place of someone new to the wine world. You have to figure out what to buy. You have a certain language to master. There are brands. There are grape varieties. In the Old World, many places the great variety isn’t there. You have to know, you have to know Burgundy is Pinot Noir. It’s laid out like a map, whereas the New World is laid out more like the breakfast cereal aisle, where you look at the brands and suppose that you wanted to try a Syrah. In the New World you’d find Syrah and then Shiraz, but you’d still have it divided by countries. You’d have to look at the California and Washington State, Australia. Where am I going to find this rock? So these this Code you have to break that I think becomes a barrier. Once you’ve learned to read music, you can play wonderful melodies and harmonies.

Natalie MacLean  1:05  

Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations. Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 189. Do you know there’s a triple crisis in the battle for the soul of wine right now? Why do you need to master the Divino Code? What the heck is that? And what makes some claims on better for you wines misleading? You’ll hear those tips and more in Part Two of our chat with Mike Veseth, the Wine Economist. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back to it if you missed it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note before we dive into the show is the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression, Defamation and Drinking Too Much. So in my book, I mentioned that after the birth of my son, my husband and I started sleeping in separate rooms. I was getting up every two hours to feed our son and my husband was still working full time. And now we’re divorced. So this provoked a lot of comments from my beta readers. Apparently, it’s a hotbed issue. Something that sleeping separately leads to lost intimacy and the inevitable decline of a marriage. But others believe that sleeping together, especially when you’re an insomniac and he snores like a chainsaw, is a recipe for everyone feeling exhausted, and a more certain route to relationship issues. I’d like to know what you think. Let me know.

I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at Natalie MacLean.com/189. This is where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Natalie MacLean  4:34  

You say in the description for Wine Wars II, the stakes are higher than they were 10 years ago. What do you mean by that?

Mike Veseth  4:41  

Oh, because 10 years ago, we still saw the global wine market growing. Okay. In the first 10 years of the 21st century, the global wine market grew at a tremendous rate. If that rated continued, there would be about a third more wine sold in the world now than there actually is. But after the global financial crisis 2008, global wine consumption hit a plateau. I call it wine’s last decade. And then in the past four years, there’s actually been a decline in global wine consumption. So there was a time when, as is the case with a rising real estate market, that you can’t make too bad a mistake. Because if you overpay for something, or over plant with something, the growing market will save you. So all right, yeah. Now, in today’s more zero sum, global wine market, mistakes really hurt. That if we’re not able to connect with consumers, if we’re not able to produce the wines with soul that we risk losing them more than in the past. Which is why at the end of the book, I’ve added the whole new section about wine’s triple crisis.

Natalie MacLean  5:56  

Okay, the three factors. And just before we move on to that, what’s caused the contraction? Is it that the Millennials are drinking less or what’s happened?

Mike Veseth  6:04  

No, because it’s not just the Millennials. It’s kind of interesting, because here in North America, we tend to frame it in terms of generations. So we think Millennials. In Europe, however, you know, that there has been a secular decline for 30 years in wine consumption. And then for a while now, researchers have counted on China as being the place whereas wine becomes popular in China, that this will boost the global markets. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. It’s also in decline in China. It’s there. So I think that it’s a number of factors, and different factors in different places. But I will say that globalization is probably part of it, because globalization not only brings you wine, but it brings you lots of other things from all around the world.

Natalie MacLean  6:54  

Sure. All the competition even what is it White Claw and all the competition from seltzers and that sort of thing as well?

Mike Veseth  7:00  

That’s right. Yeah. I actually I talk about White Claw in Wine Wars II. Because at the end of my chapter on terroirists, do you consider a White Claw kind of a terroirist alcoholic product? And, you know, I can just see my readers going no, but as you know it’s actually made by the same people that own Mission Hill winery in British Columbia.

Natalie MacLean  7:23  

That’s right, in British Columbia, and they make Mike’s Hard Lemonade too.

Mike Veseth  7:28  

That’s right. Do you think that that’s a terroirist operation? Well, you’re actually they own the most organic vineyards in that region in that so being a terroirist is a complicated life.

Natalie MacLean  7:39  

It is. Some, any purest ideal is hard to maintain across the board. There really is. And so you alluded to the fact you had an updated section on the three, the triple threat in Wine Wars II.

Mike Veseth  7:51  

That’s right. It’s a triple crisis. And there’s a economic crisis. Wine is almost always in an economic crisis. And so as this is complicated, I don’t know we’ve kind of talked about it a little bit. There’s, of course, an environmental crisis,

Natalie MacLean  8:05  

Right. With wildfires and droughts.

Mike Veseth  8:09  

Wildfires, droughts, the rising temperature, but also the variation of temperature. The fact that specific wine grapes grow best within a relatively narrow area. And so hear in the US right now, we’re most focused, I think, on the drought in California. It looks like California agriculture is going to have to medically cut their water use this year. And my friends with vineyards are very, very concerned about what that might mean for them. So an environmental crisis, and then an identity crisis. That it does seem to me that as wine brands have become more and more popular, brand wine has become less and less distinct. That if a consumer, a young consumer just to pick it, is used to buying branded products, that how is wine brand different than other brands, and so forth. So at the end of the book, I tell this sort of nightmare story of where this… Where can it lead? Well, it’s no place that it’s actually going to go because I’m an optimist. OK. Good. I think the soul of wine is secure, because we have people like your audience who is tuning into this that wants to learn about all of this. But I do a riff on an 80’s film, Sylvester Stallone film called Demolition Man. Where in Demolition Man, this detective is unfrozen in the future, and is shocked to discover what has happened. There had been, for example, restaurant wars and different restaurants went from being individuals to chains and then the chains that went to war with one another. And so that in 2035, all restaurants are Taco Bells.

Natalie MacLean  10:03  

That is a nightmare. Apocalyptic.

Mike Veseth  10:05  

Isn’t that a nightmare? It looks like a wonderful Taco Bell. So I imagined that he gets there and that all white wines are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, because they have won the white wine wars. And the environment changes and so forth as branding continues, you start off with distinctive regional brands. But as consolidation again, this is the nightmare and not a prediction. But as consolidation goes, where you know, you can’t really if you’re going to have a huge mega brand, you can’t really have it from a particular area of Sonoma County or something like that. So as I tell this story, the wines become proprietary blends, so no one knows where the wines come from, or what exactly is in there. Like the Prisoner, for example, a proprietary red wine blend of Napa Valley. No one really knows for sure what’s in there. But no one knows what’s in there after a while no one cares. And at that point, doesn’t really even have to be grapes? If they’re buying the brand, why does it have to be grapes? Why can’t it be? Just has to taste the same, yeah. So I and then having written this, I was looking at the beer aisle. And Pabst Blue Ribbon is a famous beer. And I noticed that Pabst Blue Ribbon was selling a hard coffee drink in a can. And it looks like a beer kit but it was hard cold brew coffee. If people are just buying the brand who cares. That’s true. So that’s my nightmare. That truly is a dark vision. And so in each of the five sections of Wine Wars II, I end this section with a tasting, where the tasting allows, I hope people did this in Wine Wars the original book too. And people seem to some people reenacted the tastings, which I found very good. So that each of the tastings is meant to allow the readers if they want to, to sort of experience with all their senses some of the arguments and ideas that I have in the book. So there for example, the very first tasting is sparkling wine because Champagne is global. Champagne is all about brands. Champagne, has grower champagne, which has sort of a terroirist approach. Champagne has a economic crisis, has an environmental crisis, climate change is doing Champagne region no favours. And it has an identity crisis because some of the market for champagne is being undermined by the fact that people have discovered Prosecco and Cava and sparkling wines from their local regions. So I do all of this. At the end of the book, having painted this dark nightmare picture, I then go to Portugal, which is an area I think Portugal has, of course, been making wines for hundreds of years, 1000s of years, and it’s very good. That’s why I said now choose your attitude. How do you feel about this at the end? Are you really happy and excited? Maybe you want a Vinho Verde, for example. A nice crisp white wine. Or white wine with a lot of nice acidity and so forth. Are you disturbed? Do you need to think these things through? Well, maybe what you need to find Tawny Port. You can sit, ponder and think so I sent out several different wines sort of choose your attitude, and then here’s a wine that will help you work through your thoughts.

Natalie MacLean  13:25  

Oh, that’s great. I’m doing something similar with my memoir, except I’m going to make the wine guide separate from the memoir itself, but you know, a wine for celebration, a wine for newly divorced but anyway, that’s a whole other story. Speaking of tasting, do you have a bottle with you there, Mike? I do. Excellent. I do. Okay, I have the Creekside Merlot Cabernet from Niagara speaking of going local and all that sort of thing, but which one do you have?

Mike Veseth  13:51  

Alright. Well, this is you can see that it’s kind of a pink sparkling wine. It is called Bellissima and it says Bellissima Kanamori to Christie Brinkley.

Natalie MacLean  14:04  

Oh, it’s a celebrity wine. Christie Brinkley the supermodel. Yeah.

Mike Veseth  14:08  

It’s a celebrity wine. And I had to look up Christie Brinkley because my memory is not so good. But she was known a few years ago as a swimsuit model. When she did the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues. And I like to think that the image on the front and sort of a tribute to that because, of course, this is Botticelli’s Venus, not wearing very much of a swimsuit it must be said. She’s wrapped in out of the sea. This is an example of a celebrity one, as you say. So she works with a producer in the Veneto. And if you go online, you type in Bellissima Christy or just Christy Brinkley and wine, you’ll find that she’s been on every TV show, and she has lots of videos and things about this. They make Prosecco, a brut Prosecco, and then a Rosé Prosecco. Because it’s relatively new. And then they also make a white sparkling wine and a pink sparkling wine. And this is the pink sparkling. They don’t call it Prosecco because it doesn’t meet all the rules and regulations of Prosecco. In particular, this one says made with organic grapes. So that’s no problem with Prosecco, a zero sugar, sparkling wine. And so this is one of those better for you.

Natalie MacLean  15:26  

Right, marketed as a health claim almost. Yeah.

Mike Veseth  15:30  

Something that I find interesting in terms of the wine’s identity crisis. Yes. You know, I think most people feel wine is a natural product. If they think about it that way, they probably think that it is not bad for you not good for you. The alcohol is a problem. Here in the United States,  if they read the label, we don’t have to have nutritional labels on wine as they do in some countries. All we have is a warning. This will kill you. Its a toxin. It’s the sulphides. Its because they have to not because they want to do it. So anyway, I did my research. It’s meant to be a better for you product, because it has zero sugar. Now, it does turn out that brewed Prosecco has almost no sugar.  One or two grammes per litre of sugar. So like it’s supposed to had four grammes per litre of sugar, we have five or six glasses here. So I mean, you’re getting like a pinch of sugar with a regular Prosecco. So zero sugar? Well, that’s it has the same calories and the same alcohol.

Natalie MacLean  16:28  

Right. Yeah. And that’s what people misunderstand. Like when there’s a calorie count on a label or the zero sugar or, you know, gluten free or all kinds of things that alcohol has many aspects to it, not all of which are healthy for you, especially not in moderation. It can be toxic with too much. So right, absolutely right. This whole thing toward clean wines and to self care brands and all the rest of it, I think has gone too far. But anyway.

Mike Veseth  16:53  

Yep, yep. But it’s riding a wave, you know. I have a chapter in Wine Wars II called Got Wine question mark. It’s because here in the United States, we’re trying to figure out ways to reach Millennials and build the market some more. And everybody points to the Got Milk? campaign

Natalie MacLean  17:12  

Yes, such a successful campaign to encourage drinking milk.

Mike Veseth  17:17  

It raised the visibility of milk, and I talked about I really love the Whoopi Goldberg ad where she had a moostash. And all of that. It was a lot of fun. However, milk is in terminal decline in the United States. Oh really? The largest milk producers in the US have gone into bankruptcy. And why? Part of it is this is how it relates to the wine example is that people began to think of milk, as in a lot of things,  as in the components. The healthy components and the unhealthy components. And as they begin to eliminate bits and pieces of this, milk couldn’t compete with oat milk, for example or almond milk. As people began to think about the things they didn’t want to have, like, we don’t hear we don’t want to have sugar, for example. Or with the low and no, we don’t want to have alcohol. It is beginning to do that you lose sort of, this is the soul, you lose the wholeness of the wine as with the wholeness of the milk. Milk has a lot of nutrients to it, for example, and you begin to think of only the consumption components that are there.

Natalie MacLean  18:22  

That’s a great comparison.

Mike Veseth  18:24  

The soul of milk has disappeared for millions of people. They’ve got milk in the fridge, but it doesn’t come from a cow. Yeah, that’s so true.  When we tasted these wines, the Prosecco is the Rosé Prosecco and the regular Prosecco in the Christie Brinkley line. We’re fine. We’re very nice. I’ve.

Natalie MacLean  18:42  

How would you describe it? I’d love to hear how you describe that wine, the one that you have.

Mike Veseth  18:46  

The white sparkling wine didn’t have enough fruit. I said I would put it in a bellini is how I would prefer to drink it. This was a surprise, because there’s some floral aromas. There’s some fruit as maybe I would still want to notch the fruit up a bit. Maybe I would want sugar to do that for this. But this is a nice wine. Would I drink this because it’s clean? Because it’s got zero sugar? No. But I would serve this to friends before dinner, for example.

Natalie MacLean  19:18  

Yeah, that’s terrific. Well, with my Creekside Merlot Cab, I think it’s a good value brand. It’s local. But the wine of course still has to be good. But this is very full bodied. It’s got dark fruits. I think we excel in Canada mostly at cool climate grapes like your Pinot Noir, your Riesling, Chardonnay. It’s harder to get Cabernet, Merlot ripe here. So this is tannic. It’s very youthful. It needs time and serious decanting. But I think it’s a solid wine, like a hamburger wine. Would be really delicious.

Mike Veseth  19:50  

Oh, cool. So about how much did that cost?

Natalie MacLean  19:53  

This is under $20, which is really good in Canada. Our wines tend to be more expensive because of a cool climate. Of course, you’ve got mildew pests rot, no natural irrigation, like they would say with the Andes. Yeah, it’s battling and the prices are going up, especially with inflation and cost of business. So it’s going to be a challenge to keep these price points here in Canada and elsewhere.

Mike Veseth  20:14  

No, it really is. I’m impressed with that. I’m glad to see that. In the US is what cost about $15 to $20 a bottle. And you know where you’d buy it? You’d buy it on the Home Shopping Channel?

Natalie MacLean  20:25  

Really? Is that the only place or that’s that’s the only place?

Mike Veseth  20:29  

You can buy it at Wine.com and a few other places, but the principle sales vector of the Christie Brinkley celebrity wines, the same place, you’ll find Kevin O’Leary wines is on cable shopping channels, where you can show the video and have people buy the story, buy the celebrity, buy the wine.

Natalie MacLean  20:51  

Wow, I didn’t realize that was her primary outlet, or for him, for that matter. I just don’t watch the Shopping Channel. But that makes total sense. I’m watching that latest television show that’s just come out. This I Love This for You. And it’s all about a fictional shopping network. So anyway, it’s great as a study in brands and promotion. But I want to make sure we cover a couple of other things to make sure that I got to the things that you.  The DaVino Code. Did we talk about that? Was that part of what Constellation was doing with the DNA? Or was that something different? DaVino code.

Mike Veseth  21:23  

Well, the DaVino Code is. I was making a play on the Da Vinci Code right of a few years ago, the mysteries. Try to put myself in the place of someone coming new to the wine world. And you go to your wine shop or the liquor control shop, or the grocery store in the United States, or you try to imagine the you are drop there. And you have to figure out what to buy. What is all of this. And so the DaVino Code is that those of us who are already familiar with wine, we sort of know how to put things together. But you’ve got in the New World part of what I call the wine wall, that part of the store where wine is sold. In the New World part, you have a certain language to master. There are brands, and then there are grape varieties. And then there are places. Right.  So you have Barefoot, California Chardonnay. And then there’s also Barefoot, California sweet Chardonnay now as it happens. So you have to decide then. I know what I would. But then you go to the Old World part of the wine wall. In many places, the grape variety isn’t there. You have to know you have to know burgundy is going to be Pinot Noir. But it’s all about places. So it’s laid out like a map in that case, whereas the New World is laid out more like the breakfast cereal aisle, where you look at the brands and you know it’s Kellogg’s cornflakes in Battle Creek, Michigan or something I don’t know. And so there’s a code. I say suppose that you wanted someone told you well maybe you would like to try a Syrah? Well, alright, so how would you go about gathering a cart full of Syrahs to try? Well, of course in the New World, it would be Syrah, but in the New World you’d find Syrah and then Shiraz. So you can make that translation. That’s not so very difficult to do. But you’d still have it divided by countries. And so you’d have to look at the California and Washington state. And you have to look at Australia. Obviously there’s Syrah all around the world, and they you get to the Old World. And someone was saying, Oh, it’s going to be Rhône. Alright, but Northern Rhône or Southern Rhône? Where am I going to find a Syrah? So these this code you have to break that I think becomes a barrier. Again once you’ve learned it, all it’s enormously descriptive. It’s like once you’ve learned to read music, you can play wonderful melodies and harmonies. But how many other products have a barrier to entry that is quite so high?

Natalie MacLean  23:57  

No they don’t and it does also reminds me of cooking. If you know the fundamentals, which I don’t by the way, so bad analogy for me personally. But if you know how to sear and braise and poach and all the rest of it, then you can work off recipes. But otherwise, it’s a mysterious world if you don’t have the fundamentals when it it assumes you do. And just like Old World labels assume you know, as you said, Burgundy’s Pinot Noir recipe assumes you know how to braise. But anyway, yeah, no, that’s really good.

Mike Veseth  24:24  

Yeah, well thank goodness we have YouTube to teach us how to cook.

Natalie MacLean  24:28  

Yes that’s true. YouTube to teach us how to do everything. What is the battle between Martians and Wagnerians?

Mike Veseth  24:34  

Oh so, this is our way of looking at wine consumers that I borrowed from Thomas Pinney, who was a wine historian. He wrote, I think, two or three volumes set of American wine history and at the very end of his history of American wine from the beginning to the end, he talks about two different ways that wine could go. For him one of them’s a nightmare, and he is not as optimistic as I am. One would be an area that the Martians that were inspired by a California winemaker from the 30’s called Martin Ray. So Martians a stretch. Martin Ray was an advocate of the best wine. No wine could be too expensive or too good. And he in fact made some of the very best wines in all of California when he was making them in this pre war period in this it. They were just fantastic. And he sees people inspired by Martin Ray of people who won’t drink an ordinary wine, probably wouldn’t drink a celebrity wine, because where is the prestige and so forth. People who only the very best will do. And the Wagner or Wagner in this case, is the Wagnerians are named for Philip Wagner, an American journalist and winemaker, founder of a winery in Maryland in the United States. And his idea was that wine should be, well I guess it is in Georgia, wine should be everywhere, okay, people should be just growing wine, making wine, enjoying wine everywhere. That as Pinny says in his book, Philip Wagner wouldn’t turn down a glass of the best Napa Cab, but he would be very happy with a humble wine at dinner every night to enjoy. And it’s clear that Pinny in his book believes that the Martians are winning, that if we look at wine critics and so forth many of them the ones that he cites are celebrate only the most expensive, hard to find wines. The kind of wines that I made a mistake once on the Wine Economist. I referred to it as wine porn. Because it’s wines that you can like pornography, you’re never gonna, you know, but there you go. It’s what people read it the way that some might look at pornography as a way to get a vicarious thrill by reading about wines. And you see this sometimes in the Wine Spectator, for example, where they say that there have been 300 cases made and 100 cases imported United States. You will never see this.

Natalie MacLean  27:13  

That’s right. Too bad for you. Too bad you can’t have my nice life.

Mike Veseth  27:17  

That’s all you got is the tasting. I got you know, so he saw this as the big push. And you know, if he’s right well then maybe that’s why young people on a budget turn away from wine. Because they see the wines that are celebrated are wines they never see. And if they saw him, they couldn’t afford to buy him.

Natalie MacLean  27:35  

It’s out of reach. Yeah. And was Philip Wagner part of the Wagner family now in Napa who makes Camus? The answer is no. Okay, different Wagners. Okay.

Mike Veseth  27:42  

No different Wagners. But he, among other things, was an advocate of hybrid wines, hybrid grapes, for example, because he wanted wine grapes to be grown everywhere and so forth. And so I was pleased when Wine Wars came out. I visited the publisher in the Washington DC area. We went to someplace we would get a taste of a Wagner wine. Boordy Vineyards. It that was nice to to have that connection with the history of wine. Full circle. This people can think about are you more Wagnerian or Wagnerian? Are you more interested in wines as a daily joy? Or do you wish to climb the summit? And are you more interested in the climb than this? I think it’s a good test for a wine drinker.

Natalie MacLean  28:26  

Yeah, yeah, that’s a good way to put it. So just a couple of questions as we wrap up. This has been so great, Mike. If you were to share a bottle of wine with any person living or dead, who would that be? And what would the wine be?

Mike Veseth  28:38  

Oh, I’m not really sure I know on this. I will say given that I’m allowed dead people, I always been fascinated with Mark Twain. Growing up, Mark Twain was this person who I read about his travels around the world. And sometimes when I’m travelling, I’ll try to find one of the Mark Twain travel books that go to the same places, and so visit what he would do. But I’m not sure he was very interested in wine. At the end of the day, I would choose Maderia to have with him. Because Maderia would be a classical American wine. Madeira would have been a wine that he would have had on the Mississippi growing up. I would try to reach out to him and ask him, what memory does a glass of Madeira bring back to you?

Natalie MacLean  29:22  

Maybe might get a new story out of him too while he’s there?

Mike Veseth  29:25  

Maybe so, yeah.

Natalie MacLean  29:27  

And if you could put up a billboard in downtown Seattle, what would it say?

Mike Veseth  29:31  

Oh, think global drink local. Because you know, in Seattle, there not many grapes grown on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. It’s just too rainy. There are some, but not too many. But if you’re standing by the Space Needle in downtown Seattle, you have 300 wineries within 30 miles because they bring the grapes in and make the grapes. And you could live your whole life only drinking wines that were actually made in that 30 mile radius and you would be drinking good wines.

Natalie MacLean  30:01  

That’s terrific. Since you have had apocalyptic visions, what wine would you like served at your funeral?

Mike Veseth  30:07  

This would also be one of the strangest questions I’ve been asked. You stumped me with this one a little bit. But so I was thinking, because you gave me a warning that you would ask me about this. And many of the wines I enjoy the most are wines that are made by friends of mine. So that when I taste the wine, I sort of taste the friendship as well. So at my funeral, I guess I would want wines made by someone that’s a good friend, that would not celebrate my death or mourn my death but think about the friendships. Because I need to choose, I’ll choose Howard Soon. The wonderful Canadian winemaker and great friend of mine. He’s making wonderful wines now in the Similkameen Valley in British Columbia.

Natalie MacLean  30:50  

Yeah.

Mike Veseth  30:51  

I’d ask Howard to choose one of his wines to have at my funeral.

Natalie MacLean  30:55  

Nice choice. Yes. As we wrap up, I’m going to ask you where we can find you online in a minute. But is there anything we haven’t covered, Mike, especially about your book that you’d like to share?

Mike Veseth  31:05  

No, I think you did a wonderful job, Natalie. And I really appreciate it. But there’s more surprises packed in there. Lots to learn. And when people read it, I’ll be interested, especially in how your viewers think about some of the wine tastings that I’ve proposed the different parts of the book.

Natalie MacLean  31:22  

It’s a great combination to have all of this sort of history and economics, and then have the practical side because of course they both go together. All those big global factors are affecting what’s in the glass. And it’s nice that you’ve suggested some tastings to go along with the book. So how can people get in touch with you online, Mike?

Mike Veseth  31:39  

It is easy. My website is wineeconomist.com. One word. wineeconomist.com. It’s a weekly newsletter, you can just show up and read or you can sign up for a free subscription. And you’ll find my contact information and information about the books. It’s all there in one spot.

Natalie MacLean  31:58  

That’s awesome. And this episode will be published very close to the time your book comes out, which is July 1. So I’m sure it will be on all the book retailer websites and in bookstores, where people can buy really great wine books.

Mike Veseth  32:12  

There you go. Any place that books are sold you should be able to find Wine Wars II: The Global Battle for the Soul of Wine.

Natalie MacLean  32:20  

Very good. Thank you for confirming especially with the subtitle, I wouldn’t have remembered that one. But yes, that’s great. Mike, thank you so much. And I wish you all the best with this book. And I’m sure we’ll be chatting again when you publish your next book, but I’m sure you need a breather right now because you’ve just come off finishing this one, but congratulations. It sounds like a wonderful book. And I look forward to reading it myself.

Mike Veseth  32:43  

Well, thank you so much, Natalie, cheers.

Natalie MacLean  32:45  

Oh, cheers. Yes, of course. We’ve got glasses. There we go. Cheers. Bye for now.

Natalie MacLean  32:55  

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Mike. Here are my takeaways. Number one, he illuminates the triple crisis in the battle for the soul of wine right now with really great examples. Two, I love his concept of the DaVino code for better understanding wine and being less intimidated by it. And three, he makes a great point about why some of the claims on better for you wines are so misleading. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact the full transcript of my conversation with Mike, links to his books and website and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free online class called the Five Wine and Food Pairing Mistakes that can Ruin Your Dinner and How to Fix Them Forever. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/189. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or want to become a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Jim Duane, winemaker and host of the popular podcast called Inside Winemaking. In the meantime, if you missed episode 36 go back and take a listen. Especially if you’re travelling this summer, I talk about airline wine, flights of wine that you can drink without reservations, but I’m pumped. I will share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite. Getting a wine to taste delicious at 30,000 feet isn’t easy. After a few hours we get dehydrated, alcohol’s dehydrating effect compounds this and we lose up to 30% of our ability to taste. Wines aromas are flattened, and any element that’s out of balanced such as tannin or acidity is emphasised. The wine hasn’t changed. We have. My dream flight begins with the wine selection. We’d like to direct your attention to the wine list in the seat pocket in front of you says the airline attendant. You’ll note that we have a fine selection of first growth Bordeaux at the rear of the plane. And a 40 year vintage of Port is being decanted in the middle aisles. And for our first class passengers, we have a vertical of Chateau d’Yquem 1945 through 1960 at the front of the plane.

Natalie MacLean  35:27  

If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a wine that’s changed your world.

Natalie MacLean  35:50  

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Nataliemaclean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.

 

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