If You Could Wave A Magic Wand


What if you could wave a magic wand and change something about the world of wine? What would it be – affordable wine, no ratings, more ratings?

Abolish scores? Abolish corks? GrapeRadio discusses a few of the impossible changes we would love to see.

GrapeRadio Contest Alert: Tell us what you would like to change in the world of wine if you had the all powerful magic wand. The winner of the contest will get to host an upcoming episode of GrapeRadio. Post your entry/comment(s) on this show. Contest Expires October 31, 2007.

Notice: Congrats to contest winner: Mel Hill!

For more information on 2007 Auction Orange County: www.shareourwine.org

Sponsor: MILLESIMA USA: www.millesima.com

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Show #171
(36:42 min 39 MB)

26 Responses to “If You Could Wave A Magic Wand”

  1. 1 shawn Oct 8th, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    My three wish magic wand would have to include:

    1. Corks that have all attributes we love about real cork without leaking, “corking”, or any other negatives…

    2. Once every 2-3 years the untouchable wines (i.e. Screaming Eagle) with the gigantic waiting lists that few of us would ever get on, put up 15-20 cases via some kind of lottery where us common folk the chance at a bottle. 200 people get the magical gift of the untouchable wine…..

    3. Not as big a wish because it very doable, but GR should have quarterly off-lines, great way to connect your listeners and everyone get to drink stuff they wouldn’t necessarily get a chance to.

    Keep up the good work,

  2. 2 Filippo Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:02 am

    My “doable” wish is to be able to carry wine as carry-on luggage on airplanes again.

    My “impossible” wish is to be able to easily find and purchase whatever wine I hear about via some sort of online alliance of retailers…and with reasonable costs.

    Thanks for the great show!

  3. 3 Michael A. Paz Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:19 am

    My wishes would be:

    1. I wish that every bottle of wine would include the physical location of where the grapes were harvested or grown. Not just the regional or appellation name because these tend to fall into some gray areas.

    2. I wish that every bottle came with tasting notes from the actual maker of the wine. I know some do, but many do not. I am always curious on how my notes would compare to what they believe we should taste.

    3. Last I wish and hope that all the boutique vineyards out there stay on course and continue to a make those special prizes that few people have the opportunity to sample and enjoy.

    Love the show

  4. 4 Mike Holland Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:51 am

    If the wines could be treated as food – which they are – in relation to suggested pairings and applications.
    For example, could a supermarket aisle – as opposed to a specialty store who “get” it already – pair a chiller case of whites near the produce section of salads or the dairy section where appropriate cheeses would be kept. Reds good for Tuesday pasta can be found next to the pasta bags and sauce jars and even – gag! – the cans of Boyardee.
    While many wine labels list potential pairings now, the suggestions are underused.

    How about a separate point system – one for cocktail wines and one for food-friendly wines. Some wines can straddle the fence and be happy with both applications but most morph from one to the other such as being started with dinner and finished with the evening snack of choice. I’m not a fan of point systems but they are here to stay and we should make peace with them.

    Give home winemakers a greater voice. We do use our wines with food and make the wines we like with our favorite meals or special occasion meals. Not for everyone but it demystifies wine and makes it accessible. Accessibility sells.

  5. 5 Andy Ball Oct 9th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    My single biggest wish is that restaurants cease marking up their wines so much that they are unaffordable. It’s bad enough so many bottles are at or over the $100 price point on their own but who wants to pay $60 for a $25 bottle? I’m happy to pay a corkage fee to drink a better wine with a meal — and even happier to frequent restaurants that do not charge a corkage fee, like Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa, which has a great wine list, but also marks up their wine too much.

    My second wish, is that many restaurants need to upgrade their stemware. If they’re going to mark up their wins 100 -150 – 200% they should darn well serve it in a decent glass! (I’ve been known, to the embarrassment of my friends, bring my own stems along with my own wine!)

    As always, keep up the great work!


  6. 6 mel Oct 9th, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    My wish would be for all wine bottles to include a “magic label” that could tell me IF the bottle had been exposed to hight heat to the level that the wine could be cooked.

  7. 7 ANDREW CHEESE Oct 9th, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    My wishes :

    1. It would be possible to sample any wine before buying a whole bottle. This is already possible in some places e.g http://www.decanter.com/news/131883.html but it should be universal.

    2. Fine wine would be cheaper

    3. Wine reviewers e.g. Parker, Decanter, Wine Spectator, etc publish reviews in full with scores for every wine they review – even the ones that get -1 out of a 100. They seem to be scared to do so – maybe because they fear they will not be allowed to get the wine for free to review the next year. For me. it is more important to not buy a crap wine than to buy a really good one. I would rather have something drinkable than not.

  8. 8 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 11th, 2007 at 5:26 am

    I wish I had talked to all of you before we recorded the show. There are some real good ones here.

  9. 9 Mike Holland Oct 11th, 2007 at 7:25 am


    Do a follow up show. An author of biograpies I know always has the same dilemma: As soon as the bio comes out, someone emerges with new documents and data that wasn’t seen before. That’s why book sequels and second editions exist.

  10. 10 Tim Meranda Oct 11th, 2007 at 7:55 am

    If I could change one thing it would be to reduce the huge amount of snobbishness in the wine world. There is just too much elitism in our hobby. For example many think that if you don’t fall down and pray at the altar of Pinot Noir then you must be a Neanderthal. Or if you aren’t drinking Screaming Eagle then you must be something of an untouchable. Or if you don’t have a complete vertical of First Growth Bordeaux then your cellar must be in need of Federal desarter relief. Guy’s its just grape juice

  11. 11 Nowell Karten Oct 11th, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    As a former magician, I know the powers and limits of wands — no matter how large their format. Unfortunately, no magic could ever make the world’s greatest wines affordable, available, and properly aged for our immediate pleasure.

    However, my magic wand can eliminate all wine flaws (TCA, VA, Brettanomyces, and more), even wines that are simply oxidized!

    Thus, I won’t have to suffer, as I recently did, my storing, saving, and eagerly serving my only bottle of 1990 Pol-Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill, only to find it corked; or my serving ten vintages of Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spatlese, only to have the vertical broken by another flawed bottle.

    So, in 2013, when I open my only bottle of 1993 d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs, I won’t have to worry about my evening being ruined by yet one more corked wine.

    Best wishes for that,


  12. 12 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 11th, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Good point Mike. In hindsight, we should have established some boundaries for the discussion. I think it would be interesting to make some predictions for 10 years from now.

    Nowell, call me when you open that bottle.


  13. 13 ANDREW CHEESE Oct 11th, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    How about a global agreement on what a “great” wine is. For me it should smell, taste, feel, and make me feel great. I read/hear a lot of rubbish about a great wine reflecting its terroir and having a sense of place but to me that’s not important. There are plenty of crappy wines that reflect their terroir. Also who cares about aging. A great wine doesn’t have to be one that ages. I have tasted great wines that haven’t had any aging and great wines that have. I dont’ care. I look, smell and taste and then decide if I think a wine is great – I don’t *need* to actually know anything else about it.

  14. 14 Nowell Karten Oct 12th, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    OK, OK. Someone’s going to need a really big magic wand for this one. Stop global warming, so we won’t be drinking our grenache from Burgundy and our pinot noir from the northern Sweden.

  15. 15 WEc Oct 23rd, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    I just listened to this show and have a few comments/opinions that I would like to share.

    Jay, I’ve heard you mention a couple of times through previous episodes that you dislike the scoring systems that we have in place right now, whether it is 100 points or 5 stars or whatever, because you think that the distinction between a 90 vs. a 91 point wine is often impossible to make. To that, I agree. However, I don’t believe that this is a good reason to abandon the scoring systems in use. I’ll use the following analogy to illustrate my point (and this is more along Brian’s line of reasoning).

    Think about a clock with a seconds hand that goes tick-tock. In between the tick and the tock, do you know the exact millisecond you are in? No. But does that mean I should render the clock useless? Well, it depends. If I have a clock with the purpose of telling me the exact millisecond, then I can only answer “yes, it is useless”. But if I have a clock with the purpose of telling me roughly what the time it is (to the precision of say a few seconds), then I can only answer “no”. This is the same with any numerical wine scoring system (100pt, or 5 stars, etc…). A 92 point wine is roughly a wine between 91 and 93 just like a clock that reads 11:35:42 is roughly indicating a time in between 11:35 and 11:36. So when we look at a score, do I render that score useless? If I am looking at the score as the absolute indication of quality (the exact millisecond), then “yes, it is useless”. But if I am looking at the score as a rough indication of quality (an approximation of time), then the answer will have to be “no”.

    Lastly, the difference between a 5 stars, or 20 points, or 100 points system is, to stick with the clock example, akin to the differences between a clock with every minute marked on its’ face versus one that doesn’t. It is just a basic tradeoff between accuracy and precision. Of course If I knew the time is 11:36 and on the clock that has every minute marked on its’ face it reads 11:38, I know the clock is wrong. Yes, the clock sucks. But if that clock did not have the minutes marked on its’ face, I may not be so readily assured that the clock did not read 11:38 (due to the imprecision built in).

    And for my swing with the magic wand, I would want world peace. Oh, wait, I’m hallucinating again. I thought I was in a beauty pageant.

    Keep up the good work guys. Always a pleasure to listen to.

  16. 16 Greg Oct 23rd, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Very interesting show. I think most of what I would wish for was covered in the show, but one for me would be to go back in time to start collecting earlier. Then I would not have to listen jealously as others talk about the cases of ’82 Bordeaux they got for under $200…

    If, instead of a magic wand, it was a genie with three wishes (after all we are talking about bottles here) my top three would be:

    1. Eliminate TCA;
    2. Require all bottles to indicate when they have been exposed to high heat;
    3. Provide that every wine was made in sufficient quantity such that everyone got an opportunity to buy it. I would think this would eliminate the craziness of the mailing lists and the purchase of wine for its mere exclusivity.

  17. 17 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 24th, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Greg, pretty good trio of wishes. The first two actually seem doable, but that last one would take a miracle – like the loaves and fishes.


  18. 18 Richard Velez Oct 24th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    1) For all restaurants to serve red wine at the proper temperature, and not at the ambient temperature of the room. (Especially here in Florida, you’re talking 74F.)

    2) For restaurants who serve wine by the glass to properly preserve/store their open bottles and not try and serve the last 6 ounces of a 4 day old bottle which has been capped with the original cork pushed back into the bottle with grimy hands. (Yeah, sometimes I have to order by the glass, most of my family are not wine drinkers- oh, the horror! I usually go and ask the bartender what’s freshly opened and look for the fullest bottle, or see what’s not opened yet.)

    Love the show!

    Also, on the recent topic of non-California shows, would love to see you experience the North Fork of Long Island. I have lots of family there and love to hit the wineries when I’m there. It’s vastly different from the upstate Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes regions, in that the weather on the North Fork is Bordeaux-like (Cutchogue is the sunniest town in the state), and the varietals are all vinifera varieties, lots of Bordeaux style, and not a Niagara or Concord grape in sight!

  19. 19 Jim Fleming Oct 26th, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    I’d like to wave a magic wand, drink and enjoy all the flavors, tastes, and sensations that come with drinking wine, but eliminate all the social problems that’re associated with over indulgence.. lmbo!

    That’s a serious wish, but I do realize that it’s very likely not going to be a winning wish…

    Jim Fleming

  20. 20 Brian Crabtree Oct 28th, 2007 at 10:56 am

    If I could wave a magic wand, I would free winemakers to make the wines they really want to make. Many producers, including some profiled on Grape Radio, admit they have to make wine to appeal to the palates of various critics in order to compete in the business. To each his own, but if producers were not sort of hostage to the most influential scorers, we would have a broader diversity of wines that would include more elegant, complex, food friendly wines that reflect the geographies and cultures of where they are produced. That’s my wish, plus many already mentioned.

  21. 21 Randy Saunders Oct 30th, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    RE: If I could waive a magic wand….

    Guys, if I could wave a magic wand, I would suddenly appear in Adelaide in South Australia with the keys to a rental car in my hand and a map of Mclaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and the Clare, Eden and Barossa Valleys. Then I could explore the most exciting and dynamic wine producing area currently on this globe.
    There is so much happening with wine in South Australia right now that is really exciting, and one could certainly put several tanks of gas thru that rental car and still not experience it all. But I would like to try. There are so many interesting bottlings coming out of these areas right now that the area really deserves some attention on your show.
    I hope to visit there some day, but in the interim I would love to hear you interview or discuss those producers who have made strides in style and quality in the past few years. Should you need a guest host to help explore this region, I know someone who would be thrilled to assist…..

    Randy Saunders

    (Hope I made the deadline)

  22. 22 Tyson Freeman Oct 31st, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    If I could wave my wand and change one thing about the wine industry…

    Tough to pick just one, but there is one that would beneficially affect many of the other problems in the wine industry.

    Sources of wine reviews should have at least two tasters reviewing the same wine. No question. Especially the magazine publications.

    I understand there are logistics involved, but there is limited value in having one palette deciding the worthiness of a wine. Find at least two different professional tasters, preferably with somewhat different tastes or from different regions, and have them both rate each wine. Differences in opinion would be expected. They would probably have similar takes on many of the wines and disagree on others. (Think Siskel & Ebert.) In time consumers would come to understand the characteristics that each reviewer tends to favor and dislike, and choose whom they align more closely with.

    Not sure why this is not done. Not sure if certain high profile reviewers are protecting their turf, trying to avoid the potential for actually testing their palettes, or just vanity. But it drives me nuts. No one person – leaving aside whether their palette is actually any good or not – should hold so much sway when it comes to making a call on a wine, especially given the subjective nature of the task.

    Review fewer wines if they have to (maybe start with the ones that are actually available to most) and have at least one other palette chiming in. It might be uncomfortable for the marquis tasters at first, but it would go a long way in better serving the consumers that rely on ratings.

  23. 23 Douglas Oct 31st, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Here’s my magic wand wish, no restaurant wine list should be more than (we can argue), but I will say 200 bottles. I get so overwhelmed when I see lists longer than Anna Karinina, unless your restaurant is named Howard Johnson, you don’t have 200 entrees on your menu, so I don’t understand why you need page after PAGE of wines for a much shorter entree list!


  24. 24 Allan Murphy Nov 3rd, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    A very enjoyable show, clearly unscripted. If I had one wish it would be to standardize wine labels. I don’t need to know the altutude, longitude and latitude of the vineyards or when the grapes were picked (as found on the back of Calera wines) but grape varieties, blend information, storage suggestions, and other basic information would be very useful. In your shows, you’ve often commented on the difficulty of understanding Italian, German and other wine labels. Kampai!

  25. 25 Paul Nov 14th, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Fun show, guys. If I could wave a magic wand, I would wish for the ability to taste every single wine prior to purchase, mailing list wine included. Wouldn’t if be great for a mailer to include samples of their newest releases?

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