Wine Wars

Wine Wars by Mike Veseth

Wine Wars and Benjamin Lewin’s terrific In Search of Pinot Noir have been named wine books of the  year 2011 by Paul O’Doherty, the book reviewer at JancisRobinson.com. Wine Wars  has also received a Best American Wine Book award from Gourmand International and received the Silver Medal in the category of Best Business and Economics Book 2011 from ForeWords Reviews.

Table of Contents

Prelude: Grape Expectations?
1. A Tale of Two Glasses
2. Old Bottles, New Wine

Flight One: Globalization: Blessing or Curse?
3. The DaVino Code
4. Missionaries, Migrants and Market Reforms
5. The Masters of Wine
6. Curse of the Blue Nun
7. America’s Hangover

Globalization Tasting

Flight Two: The Miracle of Two Buck Chuck
8. Martians versus Wagnerians
9. They Always Buy the Ten Cent Wine
10. Everyone’s a Critic
11. The McWine Conspiracy
12. The Future of Wine in Three Bottles

Two Buck Chuck Tasting

Flight Three: Revenge of the Terroirists
13. Mondovino and the Revenge of the Terroirists
14. The War on Terroir
15. The China Syndrome
16. The Best of Wines or the Worst of Wines?

Writing with wit and verve, Mike Veseth (a.k.a. the Wine Economist) tells the compelling story of the war between the market trends that are redrawing the world wine map and the terroirists who resist them. Wine and the wine business are at a critical crossroad today, transformed by three powerful forces.

Veseth begins with the first force, globalization, which is shifting the center of the wine world as global wine markets provide enthusiasts with a rich but overwhelming array of choices. Two Buck Chuck, the second force, symbolizes the rise of branded products like the famous Charles Shaw wines sold in Trader Joe’s stores. Branded corporate wines simplify the worldwide wine market and give buyers the confidence they need to make choices, but they also threaten to dumb down wine, sacrificing terroir to achieve marketable McWine reliability.

Will globalization and Two Buck Chuck destroy the essence of wine? Perhaps, but not without a fight, Veseth argues. He counts on “the revenge of the terroirists” to save wine’s soul. But it won’t be easy as wine expands to exotic new markets such as China and the very idea of terroir is attacked by both critics and global climate change.

Veseth has “grape expectations” that globalization, Two Buck Chuck, and the revenge of the terroirists will uncork a favorable future for wine in an engaging tour-de-force that will appeal to all lovers of wine, whether it be boxed, bagged, or bottled.

Reviews

“In the fine tradition of insightful and accessible bestsellers like Freakonomics and The World Is Flat, Wine Warsprovides a valuable service to wine enthusiasts everywhere. By combining a clear-eyed economist’s point of view with globalization expertise, Veseth offers an insightful and accessible survey that will give readers an understanding not only of what’s in the glass, but also how it got there, and what the future may hold as the borders of the global wine village draw closer. This is an important work and a fun read, too.” –Jeff Lefevere, writer, Goodgrape.com

“If we are what we drink, Mike Veseth knows the reasons have as much to do with market forces as mouthfeel. He is as at home with a winery’s annual report as a vintner’s tasting notes, and this delightfully unstuffy tour of the modern wine industry will fascinate anyone who wants to understand how business works today.” –Sasha Issenberg, author of The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy

“Wine is, first and foremost, a business, though the nuts and bolts of economic survival rarely make for good reading. Enter Mike Veseth, who brings the mind of a trained academic and the writing talent of a veteran blogger to this fascinating exploration of the macroeconomic forces shaping the global wine industry. He knows his subject inside and out, and after reading Wine Wars you will have a deeper understanding of the major trends that are shaping not only the business of wine but the actual flavors of the wines you drink.” –Paul Gregutt, columnist, blogger, and author of Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide

Three major “flights,” or selection of wines for tasting, the first being the effects of globalization. Looking at expansionist politics and economics, he examines retailing policies in domestic markets such as England, Germany, and the U.S. Veseth turns to the wine drinking market and its evolution, and the ever-expanding influence of wine criticism on both in the face of the rapid changes in bulk production. The last part of his analysis looks at terroir and the potential effect of climate change….Veseth’s analysis is provocative. (Publishers Weekly )

Seeking to view the global wine trade through an economist’s lens, Veseth (international political economy, Univ. of Puget Sound; Globaloney: Unraveling the Myths of Globalization) takes readers through an engaging examination of international wine markets and the impact of consumers. Veseth carefully explains the construction of stores’ wine walls, including the psychological, physiological, and economic impact of the placement of wines on them (think of reaching up for the “top shelf”). Also included is an analysis and breakdown of the wine consumer market into distinctive groups, such as “Satisfied Sippers,” “Image Seekers,” and “Wine Enthusiasts.” Veseth’s basic premise is that the modern, globalized market now pits mass-made bargain wines against stuffy, epicurean standbys, creating limitless choices for certain types of consumers and turning the traditional model for what drives industry sales on its head. VERDICT This book will interest not only oenophiles but also general readers following the global economy or market analysis. (Library Journal)

Mike Veseth’s Wine Wars is broader than simply a book on the economics of wine, but it definitely looks at the trends that shaped the global wine industry as it has become today from an economist’s perspective….These stories are fascinating and informative….Anyone with an intellectual curiosity as to how all the factors came together to produce the wines available to us today will find much in Wine Wars to satisfy that curiosity. (New York Journal Of Books )

Written by a wine economics expert who lives in Washington, this book provides fascinating history on the globalization of the wine industry – and why that is not necessarily a bad thing. Veseth convincingly makes arguments for why inexpensive wine is not a problem and why the wine world is unlikely to collapse on itself. All in all, it is a comprehensive, well-written and glass-half-full book. Frankly, I learned a great deal about wine, how it is made and the history of many wine regions. I learned a great deal about the Chinese market, as well as the problems going on in France and Australia. This was a hugely entertaining and valuable read. (Good Reads )

Of all the wine blogs in the wide, wide blogosphere, one that I look forward to reading the most is Mike Veseth’s Wine Economist. There’s nothing else quite like it….As of this month, Professor Veseth’s thoughts are available in long form. He’s just published a book entitled Wine Wars in which he tackles economic forces as diverse as Two Buck Chuck (he’s a fan), the oft-debated descent of ‘real’ wine into ‘McWine,’ and much else. It’s more business book than guide to wine — but students of wine as well as the economy will find much to enlighten and even entertain, thanks to Professor Veseth’s readable style. (Lettie Teague, Wall Street Journal )

It’s said that wine is bottled poetry, but Mike Veseth knows it is also big business. Veseth, a professor of international political economy at the University of Puget Sound in Washington, has pulled together his love of wine and economic sensibilities to write a book that is an interesting, accessible read. Veseth is clearly enthusiastic about both wine and economics, and as a self-proclaimed “wine economist” he explains the intersection of these interests with verve. It’s a quick tour of the field, and for the purposes of his discussion, he sticks to big names and describes the successes of Yellow Tail, Charles Shaw, Blue Nun, Costco, Tesco and even Olive Garden with admiration. As an economist he sees the benefits of globalization, including more choices for consumers and a stabilizing effect for an industry that reacts slowly to changes in supply and demand.  (Wine Spectator )

Veseth expertly presents the economic forces that are shaping wine consumption, and he frets about the beverage’s future, particularly with the pushback seen by “terroirists”-people who are obsessive about a wine’s “terroir,” that its identity reflect its unique growing conditions and place. The battle for wine’s future isn’t only about money, he posits, but also about power struggles between vintners, retailers, and governments….In his artful and sometimes amusing analysis of the “wars” taking place within the wine world as a result of all these skirmishes. Veseth untangles a complicated issue and provides a cogent summary of an industry’s challenges. For anyone who appreciates a good glass of wine-or who’s been disappointed by a bad one, despite a high sticker price-Veseth’s insights will prove tantalizing. (Foreword Reviews )

From the get-go you just don’t want to put this book down, slaloming as it does informatively through economic and social history, the wine industry, the future, and observations setting the scene for the great battle between the market forces redrawing the world wine map and, as Veseth puts it, ‘the terroirists who are trying to stop them’. (JancisRobinson.com)

A clear-eyed and expansive take on globalism and big business in wine. It’s a welcome addition to the wine book shelf…. For many writers, the wine business is handled as a dry, academic subject, but in the hands of Veseth (like Perdue before him) it’s interesting and zippy reading (bordering on a fun vacation read) and an incredibly helpful primer for not only the newly wine interested to help them understand the wine wall at their grocery store, but also savvy veterans who have, perhaps, focused their learning in specific regions, not looking at the wine world in totality and from a business perspective. (Good Grape )