Posts Tagged ‘Robin Goldstein’
Earlier this year, I had the great pleasure of being an associate editor of The Wine Trials 2011. The Wine Trials 2011 is a wine guide that showcases 175 wines under $15 that beat $50+ bottles of wine in a series of brown-bag blind tastings. I’d like to share with you a new blind tasting adventure that my buds at Fearless Critic lived to talk about, called The Beer Trials. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to partake in this adventure or even have one frothy Belgium Blonde – beer that is!
Because of my involvement with The Wine Trials 2011, I thought that it would be best to keep my mouth shut, with my butt firmly planted on the couch in front of the TV watching football while my Sunday beer pal, P. Collins, poured out her thoughts on The Beer Trials.
Here’s P. Collins’ assessment of The Beer Trials…
When Mark asked me to review The Beer Trials I figured – sure, I like to read and I like beer. Reviewing a book ABOUT beer should be a snap – right?
Let me start off by sharing what I personally liked about the book before sharing what I disliked about it.
I loved, loved, loved the actual beer ratings themselves (pages 60+). As I read through the beer ratings I had a feeling much like I had as a kid when my family would get the new Sears Christmas catalog and I’d page through the toy section marking off all the items I wanted Santa to bring me. I love beer, but with living in the first state, I must say that the selection of beers in local stores is fairly vanilla, so it was great just being able to read about the different beers that are out there in the world beyond my small state’s borders.
Also helpful in the reviews was the price indicator – so I know which beers I’ll need to take out a second mortgage to buy. I also tried very hard to “study” or at least take an interest in the Family/Style of each beer – I felt the need to come away at least somewhat more educated about beer than when I started the book.
As for my dislikes of The Beer Trials, I think I can sum it up into two chapters – namely 1 and 2. I literally had to re-read the first two chapters of the book 3 times and felt like I needed to pursue my PhD in order to get through the first two chapters. If I were reading this book on my own and didn’t feel compelled to finish it for purposes of this review, I probably would have put it down after trying to read chapters 1 & 2 the first time (and that would have been a shame because I would have missed out on all the great review information). I felt like the authors were trying to tell me something in those chapters that would be important for me as I read further, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. The first couple of chapters just felt way too “intellectualized” for me. But, it should be noted, that I’m more of a “boil it all down and give me the basics” kind of person. I didn’t need all the detail or all the science behind the experiment to “get it”.
One other thing that was just…well… weird to me was the inclusion of “design” comments in the beer reviews – commentary on the labels or the bottles. Just seemed really out of place and sort of had me scratching my head wondering what the point of that was.
So, is The Beer Trials for you? If you are someone who likes beer and reading about different kinds of beer, yes, it’s for you – just skip to chapter 4 and then the beer reviews. If you are a science geek who likes beer and reading about beer then you might consider this your holy grail.
Thank you P. Collins sharing your thoughts on The Beer Trials!
If you are interested in purchasing or finding out more about The Beer Trials or The Wine Trials 2011, you can find them both at Amazon. They might make for a nice, inexpensive gift for the beer or wine lovers in your life.
I had a dream…a wildly crazy dream of putting together the baddest, most bombastic and over the top blind wine tasting party ever attempted; but I had a few things (make that lots of things) to overcome in order to make my sweet dream a reality. Things like…I had no place, no wine, and no food. I knew I needed a pretty, idyllic, and beautiful venue, enough wine to satisfy several army platoons, and some great food. To sum it up in a nutshell, I needed a whole lot of everything if I was going to make this party one for the record books.
I could only hope that a genie would fly out of one of my wine bottles to grant me three wishes, or maybe I just needed to pray for some divine intervention! Well, guess what? Dreams and wishes do come true – you just need to say the two magic words: HELP and PLEASE.
WISH #1: Where was I gonna hold this beautifully conceived blind wine tasting? In my mind, I wanted the tasting to have a warm, relaxed feeling in a home – not in some rented church hall or at the local moose lodge. I really wanted a place where people could just kick off their shoes, sit back, and try a few wines in a comfortable, intimate setting. You know, just the picture-perfect place where guests could feel right at home. But as I thought about the potential number of wine lovers attending this little shindig, I quickly began to realize that my slice of home-heaven was not going to accommodate the number of guests that was floating around in my dizzy wine-soaked brain. So I wished and wished, asked for HELP, and said the magic word PLEASE. And guess what? It worked!
WISH #1 GRANTED: My wife phoned our good friends Rob and Candice Holden and asked them if they would be willing to open up their gorgeous early 20th century home to nearly 100 winos eager to sip, swirl, swallow, and spit (maybe not so much of the spitting part) a bunch of brown-bagged wines.
And you know what? They said, “YES”! Candice & Rob, you guys are the best! Thank you both for your immense generosity and all of the work that each of you put into making this party a huge success!
WISH #2: How in the world was I going to assemble enough wines to put into this blind tasting? I was hoping for enough variety, with price points ranging from Boone’s to Dom, that would thoroughly floor this thirsty crowd and send them into a total wine euphoria. So I wished and wished, asked for HELP, and said the magic word PLEASE. And guess what? It worked again!
WISH #2 GRANTED: I knew that I was going to have to call in some pros that have lots of experience conducting blind-tastings. So I picked up the phone and called my friends over at “The Wine Trials” and asked them if they might be willing to take a road trip to the home of tax-free shopping – Delaware.
They graciously agreed to participate and brought with them a ‘Baskin-Robbins’ array of wines, priced low to high. Heck, they were even nice enough to bag and number all 72 of them ahead of time! For that – Alexis, Robin, Tyce and Coco: Thank you for bringing enough wine for an army and for giving these Delaware wine lovers an opportunity to participate in the Wine Trials. We’re looking forward to the 2011 edition with great anticipation!
But wait! Can you believe that after 6 flights, which included 72 wines, guests were still thirsty for more! Here comes my good friend Oscar Zelaya, owner of Ward’s Fine Wines in Wilmington, Delaware, to the rescue. He conducted his own special wine tasting, pouring some of his own personal favorites (under $20) from his shop.
Oscar, thank you my friend for calling St. Peter and guaranteeing us a perfect rain-free evening and for not choosing the World Cup over the party.
WISH #3: Food! What was I going to do about food? We certainly have to offer up something for our guests to eat in order to soak up all of that wine that was going to be consumed, right? Two of the 4 hosts were beginning to think that the only things that would be served at the party would be breadsticks and the Kraft singles that were in the fridge. So I wished and wished, asked for HELP, and said the magic word PLEASE. And guess what? Well, this one required some divine intervention. We needed a very brave individual with nerves of steel (who also happens to be an outstanding chef) to pull this together with very little notice.
WISH #3 GRANTED: Talk about a spread that was as beautiful as it was bountiful. Wow! Major “big ups” go out to one of Delaware’s Masters of Gastronomy, Matthew Curtis, Owner and Chef of Wilmington’s Union City Grille.
A few of the tasty morsels he prepared, included:
Roquefort grapes – grapes dredged in Roquefort and dusted with Pistachio Crumbles
Spicy tuna tartar with mint served on a cucumber
Thai chicken skewers
Thinly sliced “Blackened Beef” on crostini with gorgonzola mascarpone
Warm phyllo cups with chorizo, roasted peppers and cheddar
Curried crab salad on cumin toasted pita crisps
Scallop Ceviche with toasted tostada chips
I’m still in awe of Chef Curtis and the amazing spread he put together in such a short period of time. Thank you for keeping your cool, while some of us were beginning to lose it.
I almost forgot – Dessert! When throwing a party, you’ve got an obligation to offer your party guests a little dessert, right? A very special thank you goes out to my dear MUM for slaving in a hot kitchen for 100 people she didn’t even know. My own mom got into the WineLife action and cranked out several of her naughty brownie creations for guests to nibble on. Thanks Mom! No doubt, you make a mean brownie and now a few others know it too – including Chef Curtis.
Final Parting Words:
What more can I tell you about this spectacular evening besides, it doesn’t take a genie to make magic. It just takes some fantastic people who are willing to help!
I think this swanky soirée was best summed up by one of our guests as they were leaving:
“Hey, can we do this all over again in about 2 weeks?” And I replied back, “Why, two weeks?” And they said, “It’s about the amount of time I’ll need to recoup from this one!”
Cheers to everyone that participated in The Delaware Wine Trials…let’s do it again!
If you’d like to read more about the party or see more pictures, checkout these links:
“Fine on the Palate, Easy on the Wallet“ News Journal – June 16, 2010
“The Wine Trials: Wilmington Edition“ Second Helpings – June 16, 2010
“Delaware Wine Trials Album“ WineLife365 FaceBook Page – June 19, 2010
“The Delaware Wine Trials Album“ The Wine Trials FaceBook Page – June 14, 2010
I love wine books that are fresh, easy to digest, and challenges your personal beliefs or thoughts about wine. The Wine Trials 2010, in a nutshell, tries its best to answer one simple, yet difficult question:
“Do expensive wines taste better than cheap wines?”
According to the results of a rigorous study conducted by Robin Goldstein & Alexis Herschkowitsch, the authors of The Wine Trials 2010, the answer was a resounding – NO. The majority of wine drinkers that participated in the Wine Trials’ blind tastings actually preferred the taste of wines costing between $6 and $15 over those costing $50 or more.
Yep, sounds kind of funny and made up. However, in a series of blind tastings conducted around the country, with more than 6,000 glasses of wine poured from brown bagged bottles, and three book pages full of willing and ready tasters up for the challenge – the cheap stuff came out on top!
Before the authors unveil there killer values, the first 58 pages of The Wine Trials 2010 is dedicated to providing readers with all the necessary “nuts and bolts” that went into the actual experiment. Within these pages, it also explores the psychological side of why we all have the tendency to associate cost with a particular level of quality – The Placebo Effect, as it’s called. In this particular scenario, “A more expensive wine must taste better than a cheaper one”. Before turning the spotlight on the wines themselves, the authors also weigh in on the industry and the folks that write about it. Without giving away any juicy details, you’ll see why at least one of these industry movers would have much rather gone unmentioned in this book. Finally, the authors get on with the show and take you for a ride with the 150 value wines that they say beat out the pricier stuff. To this point, my only real beef with The Wine Trials 2010 is that the authors fail to reveal the identity of all of the expensive wines that bit the dust against their Top 150 values. The only high dollar wines that are mentioned in the book are Dom Pérignon, Beringer, Cakebread, Veuve Clicquot and a Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru from Louis Latour. Which leads me to assume that these wines were only mentioned because they were the most recognizable high-end wine names?
Overall, I found The Wine Trials 2010 to be a great read! It’s like getting two books for the price of one: The Wine Trials Story and a guide with 150 wines under $15. Several, if not many, of the value wines recommended in it are truly outstanding and certainly worth trying. Pick up a copy, keep it in your car glove box and pull it out each time you go wine shopping. At the very least, it’ll give you some very affordable picks that you might have otherwise passed on merely because of the price tag.
The WineLife365 crew is always looking for books that we think that you will enjoy and find useful. WAIT, don’t stop reading this entry! While some wine books can be boring and pedantic, we found at least one that might actually surprise you.
A book by Robin Goldstein (founder of the “Fearless Critic” series of restaurant guides) that has received a lot of controversy and noise from the wine industry is called :
The title of this book pretty much sums up what this book is all about and why the wine industry is hot under the collar with Mr. Goldstein.
The tasters for Mr. Goldstein’s book were 507 folks who are friends of Mr. Goldstein and his editor. Some of the tasters were sommeliers and winemakers from France. The rest of the group was comprised of a broad cross section of “regular” people – bartenders, doctors, lawyers, young people, old people. Mr. Goldstein and his friends conducted a blind tasting of hundreds of different priced wines and make some startling discoveries that have made him public enemy #1 with wine industry folks.
The results of his experiment are rather amusing and eye opening. For example, he found that on the whole, his blind tasters preferred the taste of a $9 Beringer Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon versus the same producer’s $120 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. They also preferred a bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvee Brut, a sparkling wine produced in Washington State that sells for about $12, to Dom Perignon Champagne, which sells for about $150.
What this book proved to us is that people should do blind tastings of their own and find out what they like. It also goes back to what we’ve always said; don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And finally, don’t believe the hype that if it costs more that it must be better. The wine world is full of outstanding values. You just have to be willing to find them.
We think that you’ll enjoy this book and the wine recommendations contained in it. We also love the fact that none of the recommended wines are obscure or hard to find.
Have fun and enjoy.