Murmurings: What Can Wine Tourism Learn from Food?

murmurResearch tells us that affluent travelers (and many of modest means, too) increasingly choose their destinations with food and wine in mind. I have several friends who are addicted to the Food Network and the Travel Channel, for example, and seek out the places they have seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Bizarre Foods and other shows when they are on the road.

Wine and Food Tourism

Wine tourism and food tourism are increasingly intertwined and, although I didn’t see it coming, I recently found myself caught up in that mix. It started with an email from the editors at Murmur, which is a new website and app that aims to help guide foodies and winos to interesting spots in different cities in the U.S. and around the world. I was asked to write up a profile of my town and it seemed like an interesting challenge, so I jumped in.

Murmur’s focus is really on food and nightlife and most of the city guides available so far are written by food writers, bloggers and experts. But wine is not ignored, with Alder Yarrow’s guide to San Francisco, for example, and Alice Feiring’s take on New York City. Steve Heimoff wrote about Oakland and “terroirist” David White about Washington DC. I thought briefly about writing about the culinary scene in Seattle, since it is such a great food town, but my friend  Jameson Fink had already done a great job there, so I decided to stay true to my roots and profile Tacoma,”The City of Destiny,” a classic “second city” just thirty miles south of the Emerald City (as Seattle is known is known hereabouts).

You can follow this link to my quirky guide to Tacoma. The format called for a brief introduction and then a guide to a “perfect day” in Tacoma followed by specific recommendations in various categories that the Murmur editors provided. I invite you to check out my recommendation and those of the other authors.

Looking for Lessons

Murmur is an interesting concept — very personal and quite different from Yelp, TriipAdvisor and other websites that sort of crowd-source recommendations. I wonder — are there any websites or apps that do for wine tourism what Murmur hopes to do for food?

I know there are plenty of apps and sites out there and lots of information, too. I’m just curious if we are playing in the same league as food tourism of if maybe there’s room to grow? I’d encourage readers to use the Comments section to share particularly effective wine tourism apps and sites and perhaps also to identify spaces that need filling in this regard.

This raises a more general question about what wine can learn from food. I have written before that food is way ahead of wine in terms of media and popular culture profile and there are good reasons for this. We live in the age of celebrity, for example, and while there are many celebrity chefs that  are known outside the food industry, I wonder how many winemakers are well known outside the narrow world of wine?

Maybe we need to try to learn from the success of the food scene since consumer attitudes and expectations about wine are not shaped by wine alone but also by their experiences with other products. Celebrity is one side of this, but certainly not the whole story.

What can wine learn from food? A lot, I think, and we need to get with it especially since food has already appropriated some of wine’s mystique by embracing terroir through farm-to-fork, single origin and other characteristics that we once thought of as our own but that are now common culinary currency. The environment is very competitive and, as some of us have said recently, wine is in danger of losing ground if we don’t up our game. Learning from the success of others is a good way to begin.


Thanks to the folks at Murmur for giving me this opportunity. It was a lot of fun to write about food and tourism. But I suspect that this is not my comparative advantage, so I’ll probably stick to wine economics in the future!

North to Alaska: On the [Wine] Road for the World Affairs Council


North to Alaska? No Ice Wine jokes, please!

I’m on the road this week, going north to Alaska to do programs for the World Affairs Council. I will be in Juneau  to talk about the global Wine Wars on February 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm at the KTOO studios. The talk is free and open to the public. I’d love to see all my Juneau friends there. I gave a talk about Globaloney there a few years ago and had a great time. 

Then it is north once more to Anchorage for a program for the Alaska World Affairs Council  It is a wine dinner event on February 12 with great food, interesting wines and some Extreme Wine stories to go with them.

The wine dinner is a fund-raiser for the World Affairs Council with tickets priced at $100 for AWAC members, $125 for non-members and $150 to sit at the VIP table with me.  I did a similar dinner in Seattle last year and it sold out and raised a lot of money for the World Affairs Council, so I have high hopes for Anchorage. I will also visit a high school in Anchorage to talk with the students about globalization and answer questions about global markets, globaloney, global wine and (wearing my professor hat) college studies.

I am a big fan of the work of local World Affairs Councils and have done several programs in the past for the groups in Seattle, Portland, Tacoma and Juneau. World Affairs Councils make that critical global-local connection, bringing global issues home and fostering international understanding. I’m proud to support their work in Alaska and across the country.


Hope you enjoy the trailer from the 1960 film “North to Alaska.” I think my visit will be exciting, but in a different way from the film. Looking for that video I stumbled upon this. What do you think?

Wine Economist Short-Listed for Gourmand Blog Award

Just a quick note to tell you that The Wine Economist has been short-listed for a global blog award. The Gourmand International “Best in the World” awards will be announced on June 8 in Yantai, China.

I’ll copy the short list of blogs, magazines and “books of the year” (one finalist per country) in the “wine and drinks.” category. The Wine Economist is in good company, don’t you think? It’s an honor just to be nominated for this award and a double honor to make the list of finalists!

Thanks to Gourmand International for this recognition (and thanks to whoever nominated The Wine Economist for this award!).

Best Wine and Drinks Blog:

  • France- Cite des Civilisations du Vin
  • Singapore – The Wine Review, Ch’ng Poh Tiong
  • USA- The Wine Economist, Mike Veseth

Best Wine and Drinks Magazine:

  • Brazil- Vinho magazine
  • China- China Wine News
  • Iceland- Vinbladid
  • South Africa- Wine Mag
  • USA- Quarterly Review of Wine

Best Wine and Drinks Book of the Year

  • Australia- Barossa Shiraz, Thomas Girgensohn, ( Wakefield Press )
  • Brazil- Cachaca e Gastronomia 2014, Felipe Januzzi, Gabriela Bareto ( Mapa da Cachaca, Ministerio de Cultura- Destemperados )
  • France – Bordeaux et ses Vins 1814 – 2014 ( Feret)
  • Italy- Accidenti, malatti e parassite della vite ( Edizioni SUV )
  • Mexico – Bebiendo nuestra tierra, el vino mexicano, Pablo M.Aldrete,Maria Palau, Memo Garcia (MG )
  • Sweden- Whiskyns Landscap, Claes Grunsten ( Max Strom )
  • Switzerland- Vins Swiss Wines ( Vinea )
  • USA- The best white wine in the world, the Riesling, Stuart Piggott ( Stewart ,Tabori, Chang )

A New Year at The Wine Economist: Looking Back at 2014 and Ahead to 2015

This is the final Wine Economist post of 2014 and a good moment to look back at 2014 and ahead to 2015.

Looking Back at 2014

The year that is just ending was full of interesting experiences, many of which were reported here. I was fortunate to be asked to speak at wine gatherings in five U.S. states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Virginia) and four foreign countries (South Africa, Portugal, Italy and the U.K.).

The largest audience was over 2000 persons at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium’s “State of the Industry” session. The smallest? Well, just a handful of people braved the harsh weather to come out for one local bookstore event earlier in the year, but they made up for small numbers with mighty enthusiasm.

The happiest audience? It would be hard to top the crowd that attended a Seattle World Affairs Council “extreme wine” dinner talk in February. Great food, wine and people and lots of extreme wine stories to tell.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to come to one of my talks whether the audience is big or small.

Looking Forward to 2015

2015 looks like it will be a busy year, too.  I’ll be returning to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium next month to contribute to the “State of the Industry” panel. Then I go north to Alaska to do two events in support of global education there. I’ll give a Wine Wars s talk for the Juneau World Affairs Council on February 11, 2015 and then forge on to Anchorage for an Extreme Wine fund-raising dinner event on February 12 for the Alaska World Affairs Council. I’m proud to help support global education through these World Affairs Council events.

One of the things I enjoy the most is speaking to regional wine groups, trying to bring a global perspective to their local discussions  and discourage intellectual “cellar palate.” This year I’m fortunate to be talking to the Idaho Wine Commission annual meeting in Boise on February 17 & 18, 2015 (here is the agenda) before going on the the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario “Insight 2015″ conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on March 3, 2015. Both of these regions produce some stunning wines and are seek to attract the recognition they deserve. I’ll try to give them some food for thought.

On the publishing front, a new book is scheduled for 2015. , Money, Taste & Wine: It’s Complicated, will appear in August 2015. Yes, Amazon will let you pre-order that! And there’s a paperback version of Extreme Wine in the wings, too. Looks like a busy year already and it hasn’t even officially started!

Best wishes to Wine Economist readers. I wish you all health, happiness and great wine in the New Year. Cheers!


Here’s a short video of highlights from Wine Vision 2014 that’s just been released. Thought you’d find it interesting.

Wines & Vines: A Global Perspective on Regional Wine Identity

The December 2014 issue of Wine & Vines is out and it features the usual mix of interesting and informative articles. This issue includes a preview of the sessions scheduled for the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento at the end of January, a “Best of 2014” collection, a guide to building an urban winery and much, much more.

Great stuff — the wine industry is lucky to be served by top notch professional publications like Wines & Vines, Wine Business Monthly, Harpers Wine & Spirits,,  Meininger’s Wine Business International, The Drinks Business and  other useful and informative publications.

Wines & Vines has for some time now included content from Practical Winery & Vineyard, which is edited by Don Neel. This month Don chose an article that I wrote for him last year to be featured in the combined publication. It is called “A Global Perspective on Regional Wine Identity: Think Global, Drink Local.”

The article is based on a presentation I made to a gathering of wine makers in Southern Oregon. Some of the remarks are aimed specifically at this under-the-radar region, where some great wines are being made, but I think many of the conclusions I draw are more general. I invite you to click on the link and read the column along with the other Wines & Vines articles.

One Million Views at the Wine Economist


Today I feel a little like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film (see the video clip above). One Million! Is that a ridiculously large number? Or is it laughably small? I guess it depends on the context.

This thought is provoked by the fact that WordPress, the company that hosts this blog, tells me that today The Wine Economist received its One Millionth view since its creation a few years ago. Hmmm. Is that cause to celebrate or an excuse for a hearty laugh? Both I suppose.

A million views is a lot if I put on my university professor hat. Over in the the academic world a few hundred views is big news. You might be surprised at the number of readers that the average academic journal publication attracts. One 2007 study suggested that half of these articles — and there are hundreds of thousands of them published each year — get no readers at all apart from the authors themselves and the journals’ editors. Shocking.

On the other hand, of course, the best-known wine websites must get a million views a week. The Wine Economist’s numbers are tiny by comparison, but probably still respectable given the particular niche it seeks to fill. One rating service consistently lists this site as among the top 40 most influential “drinks (wine, beer or spirits) blogs.”

In any case, I am thankful for people like you who take the time to read what we publish here. I don’t think we will ever get to the next stop on the Dr. Evil scale — One Hundred Billion! — but I’m looking forward to the future and more discussions with Wine Economist readers. Cheers!

Listen Up! Extreme Wine and Wine Wars Now Available as Audio Books

My latest book Extreme Wine is now available in audio book format, which means you can add it to your playlist along with Wine Warswhich had its audio book debut last year.

Click on a book cover image or one of the links above to go to the page for the audio books, where you can listen to an excerpt from chapter 1.

Many people who have heard me speak say that they can hear my voice when they read Wine Wars or Extreme Wine. Do you think this comes through on the audio books? Please leave a comment if you have an opinion. Happy listening!


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