Inside Wine - February 5th, 2020

Inside Wine (Feb 5th, 2020)

Cognitive offload of wine knowledge / US sales of Laguna Doc / Call for changes to Court of Master Sommeliers

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1. Between 2015 and 2019, consumers experienced a sharp decline in wine knowledge, Wine Intelligence reports. According to the insights consultancy company, awareness of brands, regions, and even grapes decreased. Yet despite this, global involvement with the wine category, on the other hand, has increased. The company explains "cognitive offloading" is the reason for the increase in involvement yet decrease in knowledge. In other words, consumers are storing wine knowledge in their brains less, and more frequently storing it on their phones. Instead of committing to memory the information about a bottle they liked, wine drinkers are taking a photo of the bottle to recall what it was or using wine apps to store data. The trend of cognitive offloading isn't something just casual wine drinkers partake in. Premium wine drinkers are also losing wine knowledge stored in their brains. -- BEVERAGE DAILY

2. Exports of Australian wine declined from 2018 to 2019, and now the coronavirus threatens some of the country's 2020 exports. China is Australia's biggest wine market, but industry body Wine Australia believes that China may order fewer crates from Australia as the coronavirus severely impacts the country's food and beverage businesses. While it's still too soon to predict the degree of the impact, any at all will be a blow to the country's wine industry that's also reeling from the recent bushfires that affected many vineyards and wineries. -- REUTERS

3. Palo Alto College in Texas has added a wine-making degree to its majors. The college is offering an associate of applied science in viticulture and enology. Through the program, students will learn how to properly treat vines, a skill that's needed in Texas' growing wine industry. A Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association’s Economic Impact Study revealed that the state's wine industry generated nearly $13.1 billion in economic activity in 2017. Students will get hands-on experience with grapes in a vineyard the college is planting and at program partner wineries such as Bending Branch Winery in Comfort. -- KSAT

4. Wines from Italy's Lugana DOC have increasingly been doing well in the export market. Made from the Trebbiano di Lugana grape, overall sales of the white wines from this region near Lake Garda increased 27 percent in 2019. US sales of the wine grew 15 percent during the same period. The success has encouraged the area to increase investments and promotion of the wine in the United States. Still, the possible 100 percent tariff on all EU wines that the Trump administration may enact any day could derail Lugana DOC sales in the states. -- DRINKS TODAY

5. Well over a year after the Master Sommelier cheating scandal, few details about the incident have been released. The problem, as well as the secrecy surrounding it, have caused existing title-holder and candidates to call for change. They not only want more transparency and changes to the exam, some are seeking structural change, citing that the board's self-governing body should add a full-time, non-member CEO with business experience to the Court of Master Sommeliers. -- SEVENFIFTY DAILY

6. Lebanon is undergoing a wine renaissance. New winemakers are focusing on what they consider a more Lebanese, less European style, using different grapes, techniques, and a lighter stylistic touch. Winemakers are favoring cinsaut, merwah and obaideh over the grapes most used in Europe by winemakers, particularly those in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley where many of these wines are being produced. -- FOOD & WINE

7. TCA sniffing dogs help protect wine from cork taint. TN Cooperage has trained dogs to identify TCA, a chemical compound (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), that can infect a cork and create a wet newspaper aroma in wine while also altering its flavors. TN Cooperage recently took a couple of their dogs to Napa for a demonstration, including a 10-year-old retriever named Moro, who used to be a bomb-sniffing dog in Chile. The company's dogs are now all based in Chile - and understand their commands in Spanish - but if interest grows, TN Cooperage could expand to the US. -- NAPA VALLEY REGISTER

8. Wineries are making changes so that they can become ADA compliant. In an effort to promote inclusiveness, some wineries are making sure to include accessible bathrooms, lower tasting bars and ramps, and add modifications that can make their operations accessible to those with disabilities. Digital access to those with disabilities is getting addressed, also, with changes to websites so they're compatible with screen readers. -- WINE ENTHUSIAST

9. Michigan is the nation’s sixth-largest producer of wine. The state has five AVAs - Lake Michigan Shore, Fennville, Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula, and Tip of the Mitt - and over 150 producers making dry and sweet wines. This guide looks at some of those producers who are focusing on dry wines. -- THE MANUAL

10. Is boxed wine better than bottled? How Stuff Works takes a look at the ways boxes come with advantages, like keeping oxygen out of the wine once it's opened. Boxes also have an environmental edge. The packaging takes less energy to produce than bottles. At the same time, boxed wine is also less expensive. But, the real issue is the quality of the wine inside the box, right? Personally, although the article tells readers to "Get Over It!" and I'll admit I've had some very drinkable boxed wine, I've never had excellent boxed wine, so I'm not getting over it. -- HOW STUFF WORKS

Robin Shreeves is a wine, beer, spirits and travel writer. She's the wine columnist and restaurant and beverage features writer for the Courier Post newspaper in New Jersey. She holds an Intermediate Sommelier certification from the Wine School of Philadelphia. Her food and drinks writing can be found at Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Food Network, Spirited magazine, USA Today, Mother Nature Network, Drink Nation, Edible Philly and Edible Jersey. Visit her website wineandwonder.com and follow her on Instagram at @rshreeves

Editor: Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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