Interesting Fact

How many hours work buys wine

For someone who’s always on a hunt for wines on a budget, I was super interested when I saw this breakdown from of how many hours of work is enough to afford a bottle of wine.

It takes less than 30 minutes of work for people living in Spain, Austria and Belgium. Out of 109 countries, people in Luxembourg have to work the least to buy wine, just 14 minutes. Makes sense since the country had the highest monthly salary in the world: $4,089. South Koreans have to work about an hour. Us Americans must work under 45 minutes to buy a bottle. In 34 out of 109 countries analyzed it takes less than an hour. But in Iran, it takes 60 hours of labor before one can buy a bottle of wine, the longest amount of time of any country on the list. For the complete list, check out the original article (Warning: it’s in French, but the graphics are easy enough to understand). Here’s a segment of the data:

How Many Hours for a Bottle of Wine

The statistics were compiled by a French magazine using a cost-of living database and information from the United Nation’s International Labor Organization. The study was inspired by this story on how many hours of minimum wage work it takes to earn a beer.

Moscato, pizza y faina!

We went to one of Buenos Aires’ most renown pizza joints, Pizzeria Guerrin, and our friends did the ordering.

So we got the traditional Argentinean pizza meal: Moscato, pizza y faina. I was told the trio is so famous that it’s even chronicled in a song. And then I found this YouTube video:

Faina is a garbanzo flatbread. They put it on top of cheese pizza and then drink a dark brown Moscato–which is very sweet. They also mix soda water in the Moscato to cut the sugariness. The water also dilutes the color (compare the glass on the left to the right, the one on the right has soda water mixed in). I’ve never seen brown Moscato before, so that was weird.


The pizza was cheesy and delicious and the faina was tasty, too, but would I have that Moscato again…probably not.

Champagne and Red Bull

Our arrival in Buenos Aires on a Saturday night a few weeks ago got off to a rocky start when the person that was supposed to pick us up–my mom’s friend–wasn’t waiting at the gate. After some confusing back-and-forth, we discovered that she mistakenly came the day before! Not a problem, though, we just hopped in a taxi and went straight to our hotel.

But we didn’t stay there for long. We had been messaging with some friends–the sons of the woman who messed up the dates–and told that we had arrived. They invited us out to a concert at a club in San Telmo, one of the many hip, artsy, gentrifying neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. We met them there around 1 a.m., and the opening band had just started. Most clubs start start going until 2/3 a.m. in BsAs.


We got ourselves some drinks at the bar and by the time the second band came on–which apparently was some famous Argentinean indie band that sang in English–one of our friend’s girlfriends came out with a huge basket full of champagne flutes, champagne and Red Bull.

She popped the bottle and started pouring this mixed drink I’d never seen before. Yes, I’ve had my share of RBVs (Red Bull Vodkas…and that was a long time ago), but never Champagne/Red Bull. Apparently it’s what the hip kids drink. So there we were, after a 15 hour flight, dancing under a bright red candelabra, listening to an artist some of the chicos in our group called a “poet” and sipping a Champagne-ish drink, the opposite of what I’d normally do at an indie bar.


When I think Champagne, I think wedding or I think of my friend in New York who will only drink Prosecco before going out. I think indie bar, I thing Jameson and ginger-ale or a craft beer. But the bar only had Budweiser and ginger-ale was non-existant in Buenos Aires.

When I got home and googled the Champagne/Red Bull concoction I discovered that it’s called “Liquid Cocaine.” Pretty much says it all.

No land, no problem: These guys still started a new Sonoma winery

This is how the story goes: three guys from the Midwest and East Coast all worked in the wine industry, but wanted to start their own new winery in Napa. They didn’t have the land or the money, but they found an opportunity and ran with it.

In 2009, when the recession hit, they bought up 20 extra barrels from the winery one of the three worked at. The barrels, which were supposed to turn into bottles of wine worth about $50 were sitting in waiting as the winery at the time didn’t have the cash to bottle the raw product during the economic squeeze, according to Forbes.

Read the full Forbes article.

Like developers flip houses, the trio–Noah Dorrance, Baron Ziegler and Steve Graf– flipped barrels, branding their wine with a new label, Banshee Wines, and selling out in three months.

Now the winery leases land and rents space for their barrels from other established wineries, according to Forbes. They also blend the wine they cull from other wineries to make their own creations, according to K& L Wine. Their tasting room is in Healdsburg, Calif. and looks like a vintage living room. The winery has another label, too, Rickshaw, and sold 45,000 cases of wine last year.

According to, you can find Banshee at liquor/ wine stores in states such as New Jersey, Colorado, North Carolina and California. The winery produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, according to their website.

K&L Wine describes the $19.99 bottle of 2008 Banshee Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir like this:

“With its nose of fresh blackberry, volcanic ash, fried sage and porcini mushroom and deep rich flavors of kirsch, Asian plum, finely cracked white pepper and a touch of tarragon, there may not be a better Pinot for $20 this year.”

And the $21.99 2010 Banshee “Mordecai” Red Blend like this:

“The 2010 blend consists of thirteen different varietals in all, but several varietals take center stage: Napa Cabernet sets the tone with an intense core of dark fruit and solid tannic structure as Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet Franc add spice, body, and lift in a sort of Bordeaux-meets-Rhone story set in California. The cooler than average 2010 growing season comes through in the form of this wine’s exceptional fragrance and elegant stature.”

That’s some high praise! Has anyone tried Banshee? I’d love to see some thoughts in the comments.

Friend Banshee Wine on Facebook and follow the winery on Twitter.

Idaho: premiere wine locale?

Remember Paso Robles man? How can you forget this debonaire fellow?

Now, the Idaho Wine Commission has taken their own shot at a cheeky, sarcastic promotional video.

This one features two characters from Idaho–a potato farmer and the owner of a rafting company. Both are having trouble convincing people that they are not in the wine industry. Because didn’t you know, not everyone works at a vineyard in Idaho!

My favorite line: “Potatoes in Idaho? Crazy, right?”

My favorite fact, which I did not learn from the video: Idahoans have been making wine since 1864!

What do you think of the video? What about Idaho as a wine destination?

I’ve never had wine from Idaho. Have suggestions for me?

The rise of Cabernet Franc?

Will Cabernet Franc be in a few years what Malbec was in 2010?

Australian winemaking consultant Brian Croser thinks so. Last week at a wine workshop in London he said the varietal is “going to explode,” according to the Drinks Business.

Right now the grape is not even a top 10 grower, falling far beyond its #1 growing genetic cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. But this fruit with herb and tobacco flavors, in addition to the berries characteristic of its relative, has potential to travel the same trajectory of Pinot Noir. It was all but forgotten three decades ago, but now it’s a dinner party darling.

This is a big idea from Croser, especially since just about seven years ago, Slate chronicled the “sad plight” of the under-rated grape.

Would you pay someone to put your favorite wine in a box?

The last time I had boxed wine was sophomore year in college when I was on the editing board of a literary magazine. We were holed up in our senior editor’s apartment eating cheap cheese and crackers and sipping Franzia from Solo cups critiquing poetry.

That was seven years ago.

But now I’m talking about boxed wine again because a few months ago, Sean Matula of Houston was talking to me over Twitter and email about Bottle2Box, his fledgling project to put wine you’d usually buy in a bottle into a box to preserve the flavors.

Sean in his Indiegogo campaign video.

Sean in his Indiegogo campaign video.

Sean started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000 to build a machine that would extract your favorite wine from a bottle and put it into a box. Sean told me that he is no wine expert, but he loves to drink wine and he noticed that when he would uncork a bottle he had to either finish it or cork it and deal with the degradation.
At the same time, he saw his friends consuming more premium wine in boxes from companies such as Bota Box. Then it hit him: what if people could get any wine they like in a box?
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Sean was only able to raise about $2,600 during the one-month campaign. Although he can’t build his machine, Sean’s idea got me thinking: who’s drinking boxed wine, why would producers put their wine in a plastic bladder and what are the pros and cons?

With consumers increasingly willing to try new things–think wine in a can and wine in paper bottles–it’s not surprising that sales of 3-liter boxed wine jumped 10.7% in 2012, according to Wine Spectator.

But a main impediment to any boxed wine product is the stigma of boxed wine, the idea that it’s not a good product, said Michael Kaiser, director of communications at WineAmerica, a national association of American wineries. Not all boxed wines are lower quality, but a produced that chooses to box their wine tends to do so if they have a wine that is not as good as their other wines, but they still want to sell it, Michael said, so they will put it in a box rather than a bottle.

The upside, though, is that the wine preserves better–getting to Sean’s point–in a box. It can lasts weeks or months after being opened. Boxed wine will not age like a bottle of wine though.

And while the culture of wine is shifting: more people like me are drinking wine in their slippers rather than saving it for fancy occasions, the same community of new wine drinkers that have welcomed screw caps are still several steps away from doing the same with boxed wine.

“I don’t see us ever getting to a point where a bottle isn’t the main way a wine is presented,” Michael said. 

As for Sean, he plans to build a prototype of his patent-pending technology and keep on trucking with his startup idea.

What are your thoughts on Sean’s idea? Would you pay for someone to put your favorite bottled wine into a box?

Marisa Sergi: the 20-year-old vintner

When I first came across Marisa Sergi on Twitter (@MarisaSergi), I was shocked to see that at 20, she had already bottled her own wine! I had to get to know this girl!


Marisa is a third-generation winemaker. Her grandfather, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 24, brought the family tradition of winemaking with him. Her grandfather and father would make wine together in their basement and in 2006, her father opened L’uva Bella Winery in 2006 in Ohio, as an homage to her grandfather.

When the winery opened, Marisa helped with the grape crushing, fermentation and gave a hand in the lab. But even before that, she has fond memories of walking in circles with her sister in her family’s garage to crank a hand-operated basket to help make wine.

“Coming from a wine family has allowed for my true passion and destiny of having a career in winemaking to merge,” said the Cornell University Enology student. “I cannot picture my life any other way, or having another career choice.”
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Marisa’s brainchild: Redhead Wine is a blend of California Zinfandel and Chilean Carmenere grapes with one sexy label. While I haven’t tasted it myself (editor’s note: this is a feature on an interesting young winemaker and not a review), Marisa said the red table wine, which has been sold since Fall 2013, “offers notes of sweet plums, black cherries and blackberries with a fiery kick at the finish.” The wine has been one of the top 10 sold at L’uva Bella since October 2013, she said. As of now, there are 220 cases available.
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WFTW: What’s your favorite part about making your own wine?

MS: My favorite part about making my own wine is that I am able to combine the knowledge and family tradition I grew up with into such a large accomplishment.  Not many people can say they have made their own wine at my age.  I did this to make my family proud and do whatever I can to make my mark on the wine industry.

WFTW: What was the greatest challenge you faced when making it?

MS: The greatest challenge was definitely getting the label approved by the [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau].  There are many specific laws you need to meet to be able to get a label approved.  If you do not get TTB approval, you cannot legally sell a wine.  It took me three submissions to get it through.  But, the hard work was worthwhile and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I found out on my birthday that it was approved!

WFTW: Who is your audience? Are they college students like you, people just getting into wine, ladies who lunch, wine aficionados, blend lovers, etc?

MS: My audience varies; I designed my wine for a large group of consumers to like it.  It is a sweet and spicy red wine; a California Zinfandel and Chilean Carmenere blend; I brought my favorite two wine regions together in one bottle.  Right now, sweet reds are very popular and I decided to create a wine that was already popular in the market but was also unique.  The spice from the Zinfandel, my label and having two renown wine regions in one bottle makes my wine a little different than a typical sweet red.  I feel anyone could like my wine!

WFTW: What are your friends’ thoughts on wine?

MS: My best girl friends tend to enjoy a sweet red, but my enology friends tend to enjoy dry and fruity California wines.

Redhead Wine is sold at L’uva Bella Winery for $15 a bottle, but Marisa is working to get it sold nationwide. She has partnered with Superior Beverage Group in Ohio, which will begin distributing her wine at the end of the year. You can follow @Redheadwine on Twitter and Instagram.

Riedel: From wine glasses to Coke glasses?

Riedel, the Austrian glassmaker that has made beverage containers for numerous types of wine, is now in the soda business, well sort of.

Riedel partnered with Coca-Cola to make a glass specifically for the soda titan, according to the Los Angeles Times.

For $16.99 from Bed, Bath & Beyond, you can get this specially made glass that is advertised as enhancing the Coke drinking experience, much like other Riedel glasses are meant to enhance the Syrah or Tempranillo-drinking experience.

The crystal glass is broad at the top and tapers down at the bottom, giving a fun-house mirror effect to the traditional hour-glass shape of Coke bottles today.


This photo, courtesy of Riedel, first appeared on

According to the Los Angeles Times, Riedel and a panel of 20 that had intimate knowledge of Coke tried the beverage in various shaped glasses before deciding on this one, which also pays homage to the original Coke bottle from nearly 100 years ago.

To get the whole story on how Riedel started making glasses for Coca-Cola, read the whole story here.

Top produced wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Although they’ve been in the top 10 for more than two decades, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had been bringing up the rear back in 1990. But now, they’ve catapulted to first and second place when it comes to top produced wines.

Other wines such as Syrah made even bigger jumps, with that varietal running up the ladder from 35th to 6th, according to a December study from the Wine Economics Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

The top 10 of 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon
Garnacha Tinta
Sauvignon Blanc
Trebbiano Toscano
Pinot Noir

 The top 10 of 1990

Garnacha Tinta
Trebbiano Toscano
Cabernet Sauvignon

So what happened? Why did some wines move up the chain, and others such as Bobal and Sultaniye fall off the chart, and I’d say out of public knowledge, at least in the U.S.?

Well, according to the study a few things to note:

1. Six of the most common wine grape varieties back in the 1990s fell off the popular scale, especially Airen and Sultaniye, which were considered low quality wines. At the same time, the popularity of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay beamed as “regions sought to improve the quality of their wine grapes.” I might note also that I went to several weddings last year and this trio was the only wine offered at all of them.

2. Wine areas in country’s across the globe started to grow more of just their top variety.

3. Between 2000 and 2010, French varieties–such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon– dominated New World and Old World Vineyards, increasing from 53% to 67% and  20% to 27%, respectively in those regions.

Not surprisingly, most vineyards are in Spain France and Italy. The “big three” accounted for more than half of the world’s wine grape vineyard area in 2010, according to the study. The United States and Argentina are fourth, but they each account for less than 5%.

Read the whole study here.