Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Morning Roundup

1) Playboy Wine

First up, Playboy has entered the wine game. Looks like they're paired with the guys and offering a wine a month. Soon everyone will have their own label wine... The first four are Cab Sav, from reputable vineyards as well. They range from $90 to $380, and apparently you will be able to buy all 12 for $1500 in September.

What's interesting about this is how hard they must have worked to get their labels approved. You can just see the label approval agent, "Playboy wine? Where'd I put my 'DENIED' stamp?" Pretty much every liquor board and the TTB have restrictions on lewd labeling, either by statute or practice. Obviously none of these labels are particularly scandalous, looks like they used 1960's centerfolds.

Just like Friday the 13th Part 1: pretty tame by today's standards...

2) News from England

Interesting articles on the BBC. First is about the relative plight of teetotalling college students at British universities. Interesting considering the U.K.'s growing problem with underage drinking and youth alcoholism. Second is that the UK has rejected calls to lower the drink-drive limit from 80 mg/100 ml to 50mg. That limit would have been about half a pint of beer.

3) Wine Spectator: Mobile

Wine Spectator has announced a new service specifically designed for use in PDAs, allowing you to look up wines and check ratings on the go. You know, so you can be that guy.

4) French fear worst wine sales since 9/11

Wine seems to be taking a hit, at least imports, but what about beer? I've been wondering: is beer recession-proof? Maybe I'll write more about it later, but for now here' s an article from the Washington Post.

5) How can it be the original source Pilsner if it's from Russia?

Article from the Prague Monitor about Pilsner Urquell being brewed in Poland and Russia. The author, Evan Rail, takes issue with a beer that literally translates as Pilsner Original Source being brewed in Russia and Poland. It gets to the heart of a problem faced by traditional beers: are they a style, or are they a place? Guinness, for example, is associated with Dublin. It's brewed there as well. But it's also brewed in regional breweries all over the world. So it's more of a brand. But take Newcastle Brown Ale. It had to relinquish it's PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in the E.U. after moving its brewery across the river Tyne, just outside the boundaries of the city of Newcastle. So you've got place.

Where does Pilsner Urquell stand? I lean toward brand, because it's associated the world over with being the "original" pilsner. It's the original source alright. But then, I'm not Czech, and the Czechs are very attached to their national pivo. After all, they staked out the first PDO for hops, Zatecky Chmel (Saaz hops) and several of their beers (Budweis) carry PDO status. So maybe pride has something to do with it too.

Of course, to be have the type/class designation of Pilsner in the U.S. it has to be be brewed in either the U.S. or the Czech Republic. Everything else 'must include the word “type” or “French” or other adjective or statement, e.g., “Brewed in France,” indicating the true place of production'. I don't think the Russian and Polish Pilsner Urquells are destined for the United States, but it would be interesting if they had to be labelled Pilsner Urquell - Brewed in Russia.

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The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.