Around the World in 80 Wines with Mike Veseth, the Wine Economist

By Brian Lemay No comments

– Does price affect your perception of a wine’s quality? What would it be like to
travel around the world in pursuit of 80 wines? That’s exactly what we’re
going to learn from our guest, who joins me live from Washington tonight. I’m Natalie MacLean,
editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at And you’ve joined us here on the Sunday Sipper Club where
we gather every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, that’s
Toronto, New York time, to talk to the most fascinating
people in the wine world. Now before I introduce our guest fully, I want to say, welcome everybody, and yes or no, please post
in the comments below. Does price affect your perception of wine? I’m going to check out over on Facebook to make sure you can see and hear us, but I would love to know,
post in the comments below. Does price affect your perception of wine? I think it does for a lot of us, I know it does for me for sure. Jim Clark says, “Hi.” Hello Jim. Hello Carl, hey, and yes it does. Okay, great. I’m glad you are receiving
us loud and clear. The other thing I want to say
before we get going tonight is please take a moment
to share this video. Steven Andrews says, “No.” Beverly says, “Yes, it does affect us.” Welcome, Anne McLean. Good, AV. All right, so take a moment
to share this video because if you do and if you’re
watching the replay, you didn’t have a chance to join us live, you can still get a
chance to win one of our guests’ signed books based
on sharing this video. Also, while you’re at it please follow us. Then, you’ll get a live
notification every time we go live here on the Sunday Sipper Club. And at the end of our discussion tonight, I will be announcing the
winner of last week’s share contest, which will
be a personally signed copy of Vikram Vij’s cookbook,
which will be pretty amazing. All right, Allen Cameron
has joined us, excellent. Thanks for the compliment on the earrings. Paul Hollander, et cetera. Alrighty, guys, so we’re all good to go. Now, our guest this evening
writes about the fascinating intersection of money, taste, and wine. He has published more than a dozen books that have won numerous awards, including “The Wine Wars”, “Extreme Wine”, “Money, Taste and Wine?
It’s Complicated!”, and his latest book, “Around
the World in 80 Wines”. He is a professor emeritus
of the University of Tacoma at Puget Sound in Washington, where he taught international
political economy, and prior to that, he
earned his PhD in economics from Purdue University. Today he’s known as The Wine Economist and let me just bring him in here, and he joins me live now from Washington, welcome Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist. – Well, hi Natalie, nice
to be here, thank you. – Fantastic, good to have you here Mike. And now I’ve just, I mean
you have such an impressive background, I’ve only hit the highlights. Fill in the gaps and
tell us maybe something that would surprise people about you, maybe that they wouldn’t know about you. – Well, I tell people that I lead, I have a double identity,
I’m really confused. I lead a double life. If you if you go on to Amazon or Google and you search for Michael Veseth, which is the name my mother gave me, well, then you get the
professor, the serious professor, the guy who writes books
about globalization and series of university
textbooks and so forth. And then, if you go to those
same places and you look for Mike Veseth, then you get me, The Wine Economist, the
person who writes about wine. And the difference, the
split, the personality split, was actually very intentional. When I started to get
into writing about wine, I didn’t want to write
just for professors. You know, there are a lot
of academic wine economists. There’s a European Wine
Economist Association, an American Wine Economist. I didn’t want to write just for them. I wanted to write for
people in the industry, for consumers, to get lots of feedback. And through a little
testing, we discovered that Michael Veseth didn’t get a
lot of replies and comments. People were a little
intimidated by the professor, but Mike Veseth, oh yeah. And so, here I am. – Well, Mike I’m glad
you joined us and Michael has retired for the evening. (laughs) That’s great. – He’s still around if you need him. – That’s excellent, all right, Mike. We did talk about this before
when we did a shorter video, but please tell us, The Wine Economist, how did you get that title? – Well, I learned about that
there was such a thing as a wine economist from a famous winemaker. And it was a while ago when my wife, Sue, and I were newlyweds. It was so long ago that
people without a lot of money could take a budget
vacation to Napa Valley. So that’s what we were doing. We drove from Washington
State to California. We were staying in a budget hotel and not spending a lot of money, trying not to spend a lot of money. On the way back in the last day, we were driving up the Silverado
Trail, and I saw this name. If I knew more about wines then, then I would have recognized
that it was the name of a winery that was kind of famous for that Judgment of Paris
that had gone before. – Right. – But I didn’t know that, so we pulled in for one last tasting, and
walked through the big redwood doors, and there was a cellarette, and the winemaker was there. If I’d known more about
wine, I would have known that he was pretty
famous, but I didn’t know. He pulled out the corks
and poured the bottles. We began to talk and I was sitting there, at the end of a long day of wine tasting, and I was having trouble
swirling without spilling, so I was working on that,
asking these simple questions. He learned that I was an
economist, and suddenly he began to ask me very serious questions. He wanted to know about inflation rates, ’cause they were moving
up, and interest rates, because they were 18,
20, 25, 30% and so forth. It really made a difference to him, because his business involved
a lot of capital investment. Involved a lot of time. Time for the vineyards,
time for the barrel aging. He really wanted to know that
when these wines were ready, would the economy be there? Would consumers be there? Would it be a good situation to sell it? What was happening in the economy, the part that I knew about, would affect whether his wines– Well, what he could do, in
terms of making an investment and barrel aging and so forth, or what he might have to do. When I got back to our budget hotel in Santa Rosa that night,
I sat down and said, “Wow, I think I just learned something.” I learned that there is wine economics. That the wine is an art
and a craft and a science, but it’s also a business. – Absolutely, Mike. I would just say that, given that vines, on average, take seven years to mature, if not longer, people in the wine business have to plan, really, for the long term. We’re talking seven years out. It’s not like this year’s sneaker style. It’s like decisions you
make today will affect your bottom line seven,
10, 15, 20 years from now. I don’t know if you’ve
found this in your travels, but I think that’s often
why family businesses do well in the wine industry. I know there’s been a lot
of corporate, you know, takeovers and so on, and
consolidations, but still, families who look to that long term, the economics, I think,
work in their favor, if they are always looking
at that long term vision. – Oh, that’s exactly right. In fact, one of the chapters in “Around the World in 80 Wines”,
the chapter on Australia, talks about the unexpected
importance of family businesses, and some of the reasons about
why that might be the case. I think you’re exactly right. When you look at other
industries of the same size, that are global industries,
they’re not as dominated by family businesses as
the wine industry is, that’s for sure. – Wow, this is the most
fun kind of economics I’ve ever encountered. – It’s economics with a
glass of wine, so that– – Exactly, exactly. I love that. I did an MBA, but it was like, economics was never this fun, Mike. All right, I’d like to
welcome Gregory Hughes, who is sipping on a Canadian Chardonnay, fermented in Missouri Oak, interesting. – It is interesting. – Good cross-border recognition of tonight’s discussion, Greg. Steven Andrews is logging
in from the Aegean Sea. “You are always traveling, Steven, “and drinking affordable wine.” Carl Weaver, “Yes, price
affects what I buy, “but not necessarily how I
judge the value of the wine.” Guys, if you’re just
joining us, you’re here on the Sunday Sipper Club, please post in the comments below. Does price affect your perception
of the quality of wine? Do you perceive a more expensive
wine to be a better wine? It’s okay to admit that, definitely. Beverly from California is
drinking Clos de Pepe Pinot Noir. Okay, so Mike, let’s do a little bit of background storytelling
before we dive into your books, your fantastic books with
the best titles ever, that I’ve heard of. Let’s start with, maybe
take us to the worst moment of your wine career. Let’s start there, then we’ll
go low then we’ll go high. – All right, start at the bottom, huh? – Exactly. – I am fortunate, I
haven’t had any tragedies. I’m not a winemaker, so
I haven’t lost a vintage or had something terrible
like that happen. I think maybe, the worst personal moment was both embarrassing and painful. It was a couple years
ago, and a local group of amateur winemakers
decided that they would host a charity event to
raise money for charity. They asked me if I would be a wine judge. I’m not a professional taster, like you. I mean, they should have asked you, but instead they asked
me, so it was great. It was an amateur judge
and amateur winemakers. Our team of judges, we
tasted everything wine. Then we went back and tasted some more. When we announced the winner, for example, the wine we chose as the best. This was the embarrassing part. The best white wine wasn’t
even made out of grapes. – Oh. – It was made out of figs. – Of what? – Figs. – Figs?
– F-I-G-S, yeah. – Oh no. – It tasted like a Malvasia or a secco. It was head and shoulders better
than the other white wines, but people looked at us
like we didn’t really know what we were doing. – I can imagine. – It was embarrassing, but not painful. The painful part came that night, when all of us judges got horribly sick. – [Natalie] Oh no. – Because one of those
amateur winemaking wine must have had a bacterial problem, so we all got food poisoning. You know how you spend the
night with food poisoning. – Yeah, that’s no fun.
– That was the worst moment. – Wow, that’s pretty low. That’s pretty low. Oh, my gosh. Laurie Kilmartin joins us
and says, “Hello Mike”, and so does Murray Johnson. Allen Cameron, “This guy is good, Natalie. “You’re bringing so much
more to my knowledge “and appreciation of wine by having such “wonderfully interesting guests.” I would agree, Allen. He is excellent. More stories to come. That’s a great story, Mike, oh my gosh. Judging a homemade wine competition. You are a brave man. – I didn’t know I was brave then. (Natalie laughing)
I didn’t know I was anyway. – Let’s go high now. What has been the highlight
of your wine career so far? – Well, I’ve had a lot of great moments. I really am a lucky person. Interesting, a book reviewer
once started a review that says, “Everyone should
be as lucky as Mike Veseth.” – [Natalie] Nice, why did he say that? – It seemed like, ’cause I’m
happy with what I’m doing. – Very nice, that’s lovely. – My best moment was, I
think it was back in 2013. I was invited to South
Africa to give the speech at something called the Nederburg Auction. – Okay. – The Nederburg Auction,
Nederburg is a winery in Stellenbosch. They have an auction once
a year, and they choose older vintages from the best
of the South African wineries. The idea is that most people
never have a chance to taste an older vintage, so
they curate these things, and auction them off to
retailers and distributors, and so forth, from around the world. It gets the best of South African wine out where people can taste
it and appreciate it. Every year they have one speech, and so I got to give the speech. – Nice. – It was interesting, ’cause
I was so darn nervous. I was trying to learn
everything I could about South Africa’s wine, and that. I got to the end of the speech, I’m quoting the Wine Enthusiast, which sent a reporter to cover it. It said that people stood up and cheered. – Oh, isn’t that great? – I think the thing they loved is that I wasn’t telling them, you know, “This is what you need to do to be”, but at the end of it, I suggested to them that their wines were great,
and they were really great. They are. But what they needed to do to try to draw in the rest of the world to their wines is to do what they do best, which is something called a braai. Have you ever been to a braai? – That’s a South African,
is it a barbecue? – It’s like a barbecue, yeah. – Okay. – It is the uniting force in South Africa that black and white and
Indian and indigenous, everybody in South Africa gets
together to enjoy a braai. Their National Day of
Unity is actually called Braai Day. And the idea is, I think the idea that I would
be saying that the thing that brings you together
is the thing that could help propel you, because there are braais that go with white wines, and
braais that go with red wines. Everyone likes a barbecue or a braai. – Absolutely. – It was a moving moment. I was really moved by that. – Oh, that is, yeah, you’ll remember that. You remember the things
that touch you deeply, that you feel deeply. Braai also reminds me of the
Argentine equivalent of Asado. – That’s right.
– I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that
correctly, but yeah, very cool. Well, the comments are pouring in, folks. Thank you so much. Post again, I can only see
five comments at a time, then they disappear, so
I’m not ignoring you. Post again if I miss you. Greg says, “Ooh, nice, Laurie.” Oh, he’s complimenting
her on her wine choice. I love when they talk together. Paul Hollander from Virginia, “Patty and I are having a
glass of Campus Oak Cabernet “from Lodi.” Jim Clark, “Price affects
my perception of wine, “more so affects my expectation of wine “more than my perception.” I like that, my expectation of
wine more than my perception. “However, after having shelled out for it, “I’m more likely to cut it
more slack if determining “if it meets my expectations.” I really should be wearing
my reading glasses. I’m just too vain not to on video. Murray Johnson, “Having
the Penfolds Bin 138 with “roast, mmm, excellent.” Murray, we’re coming over. All right, so fantastic. Mike, let’s go now to,
maybe, perhaps the most memorable thing someone has
said about your writing. I think you’ve said something already that was really interesting,
but is there anything else you wanted to add to that? ‘Cause I know you’ve won lots of awards. – I think, once again,
it’s a moving thing. There’s a winemaker in
the south of France named Caro Feely, and she runs a wine school, and she and her family have a vineyard. She writes books about her experiences. Her newest one is called
“A Glass Half Full”. I think it’s just come out. She, a few years ago, asked
me to write a book blurb for one of her books, a little endorsement on the back of the cover, so I asked her to write one for “Money, Taste and Wine? It’s Complicated!” She sent me the blurb, and in the blurb she said that she laughed out loud at some of the things I said. – That’s always good. – Then, in the text of the
email that went along with it, she said it also made her cry. – Oh. – It made her cry because,
although she’s living in France, she’s originally, it’s a
South Africa connection, she’s originally form the Klein Karoo, this wonderful, kind of
remote area of South Africa. In fact, “Money, Taste and
Wine?” ends in the Klein Karoo with Sue and I in the
back of a pickup truck, going to a braai with the
stars above us and everything. She said that my
description of that journey, at the end of the book,
made her so homesick that she started to cry. Of course, again, that touches me because to think that I might be
able to connect with someone in that way, that closely is crazy. – Absolutely. You’ve already painted a picture too, in the back of a pickup
truck, and the stars, and everything else. It’s being there, it’s taking us there with that imagery. That’s just lovely. All right, so let’s chat about your books. Would you like to start with
your most recent one, Mike? – Oh, sure. – Okay. – This is “Around the World in 80 Wines”. – “80 Wines”, excellent, hold
it close to your camera there. I’ve got a screenshot of it
anyway, that I’ll put up here. Excellent. We know “Around the World
in 80 Days”, classic book. What is your take on
this, what’s the concept? What’s the organizing
principle, if you will. – For the longest time, I
have been fascinated by books that take the reader on a journey. Although the idea of this
is that you’re following the author through this,
and discovering something about the world, it seems
to me that you’re always really interested in finding
out something about yourself. I’ve got “Around the World in 80 Days”, and “Gulliver’s Travels”, and
Jonathan Rabon’s “Old Glory”, and Mark Twain’s travel books. They’re all around here. I’m just fascinated. At one point, I began to
realize that Sue and I were on a journey of our own, too, and we’re discovering
things about the wine world, and things. And so I’m fascinated, inspired
by Jules Verne, I decided to make his journey, and to see
to what extent the journey that we’d been taking mapped up with it. For example, his journey begins in London, at a place called the Reform Club. Our journey begins in
London, three blocks away, at a wine shop called
Berry Brothers and Rudd. – Oh, that’s famous in London, yeah. – It’s been selling wine
for 400 years, and so forth. That’s the start and the end point. It follows Phileas Fogg,
the Jules Verne hero, through France and Italy, but then life gets complicated. Phileas Fogg has to
get, as fast as he can, around the world. I’m more interested in
accumulating stories. This is, maybe, the big difference is that “Around the World in 80 Days”
was designed to be this story of man and technology
versus nature and distance. The idea that someone could
overcome the challenges of moving quickly around the
world, a technological problem. For me, it made me sort of stop and think, “What is it I’m trying to find
out about wine in the world?” I ended up on the question of, “Why wine?” Why is wine so important? Why does wine motivate and
excite and inspire people around the world? Knowing this, I don’t
have to cover distance. I have to accumulate stories
that reveal some truth about the importance and
significance of wine, and the people to their
communities, to their families, to the world. – I love the concept. I love that, following the
footsteps of a classic journey, a classic novel. It’s fantastic. What a great organizing principle, ’cause you do need that to
hold together the narrative. Beverly asks, oh, so before I get to Beverly’s question, Elaine Bruce is saying,
“I am loving all of this.” Yes, Elaine, excellent,
you should stay tuned ’til the end of this, Elaine. Beverly says, “How long did it
take you to write this book?” – Oh, it took a little
over a year to actually get the writing of the book done. Part of that is that as
we travel, I record a lot of my thoughts and so forth on my blog, The Wine Economist. It’s at The Wine Economist started
off as a way for me to have this exchange with
people, so that I could try out ideas instead of trying
out ideas in academic papers trying out ideas out in the
open so that people could criticize them, make
suggestions and so forth. A lot of the writing of the
ideas had been developed. Then it’s a matter of sitting down, and then that painful process of actually getting words on a screen. – Yes, absolutely. You treated your blog, or your website,, almost
like a peer review site? – Exactly.
– The way academics would contribute and say, “Okay, you need to look
at this, refine this, “this question is unanswered.” That’s fantastic that you– – It worked really well,
because if I’ve got a good idea, I learn about it. If I’ve got an okay
idea, people improve it. If, as often happens,
I have a terrible idea, I find out about that pretty fast too. – Very quickly, yes, as do I. I have a group that I call
Wine Lovers for Better Grammar, and they will tell me every time I’ve got a dangling participle
or a comma misplaced. There’s a raging debate
about the Oxford comma. Anyway, that’s going down a rabbit hole. (Natalie laughing) Okay, Laurie asks, “What,
in your opinion, Mike, “is the best value wine?” That’s a big question. I’m sure there’s many
answers, but where would you point us to, as a wine economist, for the best wine values these days? – Hmm, okay. There are great wine values
from a lot of places. It’s a matter of searching them out, and increasingly looking where
you’re not expecting them. The wines from Chile, for
example, red wines from Chile, have a reputation for very good value. It’s, in fact, as I’ve
talked about in the book, it’s almost a curse, because
they would like to be known, the Chileans, they’d like
to be known for great wines and great values. People tend to think of
them as great values. The South African wines,
not that many in the market. Some of them are stunningly
delicious for the price that you would pay. – Absolutely, I’ve come
across some recently, Mike, that taste almost like a Bordeaux. I’ve been recommending them. They’re 25 bucks and they taste like a even a second, third growth Bordeaux. It’s like, wow. Many of them have had
their tutelage in Bordeaux. It’s unbelievable, the
value coming out of there, and the refinement, and yet
it’s a South African signature that’s on the wine. – Let me put in a plug for
Washington state wines. – Yes please! – Because Washington state,
there is a reason why California wineries are now
investing more in Washington. Because they can make wines
that will remind you of a Napa Valley wine, but at
half, or a third of the price. – Right, absolutely. Right to that point,
Mike, I want to welcome Nicole Lawheed, who joins
us, “Agree, regarding Chile “as a great value region. “I’m currently drinking Max
Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon.” Great wine, excellent wine. Neil Phillips, from Toronto, says, “Depends on what you consider value.” I guess we’re getting into
definitions now, as we will on any discussion like this. How would you describe
a “value” wine, Mike? – Oh, I have a colleague,
Pierre Lee, he’s French. And when he and his wife,
Cynthia Housen, go wine tasting at events with me, they will, here’s what they do. They go around and they taste the wine. They’ll write down 89 points, or they write down how
much they would be willing to pay for it. – I love that! – Then they look to see. If the price is less than
what they had thought they’d be willing to pay, I call it the os it worth it index. – I love that, that’s brilliant. Awesome, I’m going to do that from now on. How much would I pay for this? Excellent. – Now, there are sometimes
when, even though the price is very high, you taste
that wine and you think, “Wow, this is priceless.” – Exactly, exactly. People are always looking for that. They do the QPR, the quality price ratio. There was even a site, I
don’t know if it still exists, that does that and they take, for quality they take the score,
which is an approximation, and relate it to the price,
but I love that concept of, “How much would I pay for this?” I love that, I love it. Dave Head is drinking Red
Line from Washington state with his lamb tonight. Dave is on trend. You are right on trend, yeah. Elaine Bruce is asking,
“Bordeaux, Left or Right “for the value?” Left Bank or Right Bank for the value? – I’m the wrong guy to ask. – Right, well, so am I, ’cause
Bordeaux is all over-priced to me, but maybe the bourgeoisie
or lower crew estates will offer you value, Elaine. Spain, excellent, yes, I agree Elaine. – Oh, yeah, absolutely right. – Absolutely. – And some nice Portuguese wines. – Yep, Portuguese, and,
because we have one of these hangover perceptions that it’s
all port and dessert wine, but they’re making some
terrific dry table wines. Again, the value is there. Neil Phillips says, “Some
BC Syrah is astounding “for the price.” Yes. – One of the EU wines is a BC Syrah. – One of the what wines, sorry? – One of the EU wines is a BC Syrah. – Oh, in there, yes. Which one is that? – It’s the C.C. Jentsch. – Oh, yes, yes. You have a number of
Canadian wines in there. You mentioned Cave Spring, Sand Hill. – Then Tantalus. – Yes. – The Tantalus Old Vines Riesling. – Right, and they make
terrific Riesling, okay. (laughs) Elaine says,
“You have a high QPV.” Okay, good. (Natalie laughing) We’re getting evaluated here
tonight on our discussion, but that’s great. I’m glad. Okay, wow, the comments are coming in. So interesting. “We’re going to our
annual big Cab tasting,” says Paul, “and we’ll use the
concept for our purchases. “Thank you, Mike.” I love that idea. Very good value add here. Jim Clark says, “My
issue with price is that “some boutique wineries set themselves up “with high capital
investment, but then only have “planned a small yield
for which they expect “to make back their costs plus profit.” Any comment on that? The whole boutique-y wines? – No.
– Maybe it’s just a yes or no? – What we say in my part
of the business is that… Do you know what someone
does if they have more money than they know what to
do with, but not enough to buy a baseball team? – Ah, they start a winery? – There we go. There we go, and this–
– I like that. – I have to be careful with
that, because I have friends that have started wineries. I actually have a friend who
owns part of a baseball team. When I tell this joke, I
offend a lot of people. Part of it is that it comes
down to a matter of value. When someone starts a
boutique winery, they’ve got their heart and soul
into it, and everything. They want to be validated. They want to have their
decision to do this validated. And setting a high price,
because people confuse price with value, right, quality? Setting a high price is maybe
something that they have to do for the economics, but more
often, I think it’s something that they want to do because
they want to have the status that is associated with it. – Right, or the ego. – I think we have to stop
thinking about the idea of the price and quality are the same, then we wouldn’t have
that problem as much. – Absolutely. Well, if ego didn’t get in
the way of a lot of things, we wouldn’t have so many problems. That’s okay, we’re not
here to solve all of those. We’re just here to talk
about the wine world. If you’re just joining us, folks, we are here on the Sunday Sipper Club. If you’re enjoying this conversation, please take a moment to share it. Add a comment as you do share, because we will be drawing for next week. If you’re watching the
video replay, you still have a chance to do this, for a
personally signed copy of one of Mike Veseth’s book,
who joins us tonight, The Wine Economist at At the end of this session,
I’m going to be announcing the winner of last week’s contest. A personally signed copy
of Vikram Vij’s cookbook. You’ll also want to follow
us, yes, to get notified when we go live every time. All right, so back to some more comments. “Huge fan of that wine, Mike. “Few in the cellar in Ontario. “Creekside Broken Press Syrah
tastes double the price.” That’s Neil. Steven Andrews, oh, you just
disappeared, your comment. They’re going too fast, now,
for me to keep up with this. Okay. Steven Andrews, yeah, you’re
talking about John Howard’s Megalomaniac Winery, that
would be an interesting thing. Okay, so, Mike, let’s
get back to your books. Is there anything else
you want to tell us about “Around the World in 80 Wines”? It’s your newest book. We can talk about some
of your other books, but is there something else
you want to say about that one before we sort of talk
about the other ones? – Well, just that, for
me, it is an account of what is really quite, it
seems to me, a fascinating journey and an opportunity to
think about all the different ways that wines affect
people and affect the world, all around the world. I will say that this is a
teaser for your viewers here, that in “Around the World in 80 Days”, Jules Verne has a surprise ending twist, because he arrives in London,
and he thinks he’s lost. – Ah. – Only to discover that,
through some twist of fate, he has not lost at all. And so inspired by that,
“Around the World in 80 Wines” also has a surprise twist, which I provided not only to imitate Jules Verne, but
also to make it possible for every reader, no matter
what their wine tastes would be, to come away
satisfied with the conclusion. – Oh, I love that. – If you read the book, take a look. Wait for that, wait for it, as they say. – “To begin again, at the
beginning, and to know “that place for the first time.” That’s Lord Alfred
Tennyson, but to journey through our senses,
through the world of wine, this sounds like this is your book. Then, to come back again,
more knowledgeable, and yet, to know that sensory
experience for the first time. I need to dig into that. Oh my goodness. Okay, so Murray Johnson says,
“I have had a lot of New World “wines that I can’t
afford Old World wines.” Is that happening generally,
do you think, Mike? That Old World wines are
becoming more inaccessible to more of us? – Well, no, because if you
look at Bordeaux, for example, everybody looks at the
first growths and the second growths and the famous
classified growth Bordeauxs and, sure enough, those
are very expensive. I don’t drink those but
once or twice a year because I have friends
that like to share those growths of wine, but in fact, you know, Bordeaux has 3,000 wine producers. There are different grounds. It seems to me, looking at, for example, the sales patterns at Costco, Costco has begun to sell more of the affordable Bordeauxs that are
now being produced in a more accessible style. – Okay. – I think that the
winemakers in the Old World recognize that the market
for the very best wines is limited, and it’s not
even a drinking market. It’s mostly a collecting sort of market. – Collecting versus drinking.
– People are trying to, people compete. Winemakers in the Old World, so it’s a matter of
looking for these things. Looking to reviewers like you and others to help guide them, because
there’s the 3,000 producers. How do you know what to drink? Don’t give up, is my advice. – No, never give up. Keep going. That’s a great encouragement. Laurie says, “What is Mike’s opinion on “expensive wines? “Are the prices based on wine reputation, “not necessarily the wine itself?” We touched on that a little bit. Anything you want to add to that, Mike? – Well, many of the studies, some people think, well, it
must cost so much more to make than a less expensive
wine, and that’s why it’s so expensive. Really good wines, really,
the highest quality do cost more to make, but not so much. The price is based on
what people will pay, more than anything else. If it’s Screaming Eagle, I’m not that person who’s
going to pay the $800. – Right. You’re not the customer. It’s not mispriced, you’re
just not the customer. – Yep.
– Yep, okay. There’s so many great
questions coming in so quickly. “Wine is wonderful. “What else is there that
has the artistry, history, “and complexity?” Agreed, Elaine. Steven Andrews says,
“Your book sounds great. “I am traveling to discover great wines “at good prices that
we do not get at home. “Lots of fun, if you can do it.” Steven is always traveling the world. He’s always logging in
from somewhere different. Greg Hughes, “There is
also region that is cursed “like Chile” Oh, you mean, in the past
had a bad reputation. “Veneto, Campania,
Beaujolais come to mine, “all Old World.” Yeah, regions that had to
recover from something, I think even of Germany
and the sweet wines, you know and so on. So how does that impact– – Beaujolais is type cast for Nouveau. – Yes. – All this time, so many
young people especially have never tried a Crus Beaujolais. – [Natalie] Yeah. – Those are really wonderful
wines, and affordable too. – And entirely different from the Nouveau. – Exactly. – People confuse them
and think all Beaujolais must be consumed within
six weeks of release, but it’s not true. There’s ageable Beaujolais that’s released more closer to Easter, or
April or March timeframe is when that comes out. – In “Around the World for
80 Wines”, I talk about Beaujolais and Nouveau, and I call Nouveau a Black Friday wine. – Oh, how timely. Why Black Friday? Because it’s a discounted? – I think it’s in Canada too,
Black Friday is the day that, if a retailer can sell enough,
they’ll be in the black for the whole year.
– That’s true. – If they can’t sell enough,
they’ll be in the red. For the longest time,
Beaujolais Nouveau was that Black Friday wine. At one point, more than half of all Beaujolais wines wines were Nouveau. If you can sell all of those,
and often, they sold them at a higher price than
the Crus Beaujolais wines, sell all of those, they’d be in the black for the whole year. – It’s definitely a cash flow crop. – Yeah, that’s Chateau Cash Flow, exactly. – Ah, I like that. (Natalie laughing) That’s great. Some of your books, well,
all of them, actually, have intriguing titles. “Money, Taste and Wine? It’s Complicated!” What was the concept of that one versus “Around the World”? There you go. Love the title, love the concept. – This began with the idea that an economist might be able
to talk a little bit to consumers about how an
economist would buy wine, if an economist thought
about it a little bit. For example, the very first chapter is called The Wine
Drinker’s Biggest Mistake. You know what that is. – Tell us. – It’s mistaking price and quality. – Ah, okay, all right, there you go. – I talk a little bit in here
about some of the research, about how that’s the case
and why that’s the case, and how it can lead to
all sorts of errors. I point out that, the
people, I have friends that, when they go to the
supermarket to buy wine, what they look for are what
they call shelf talkers. – Yeah, those slips
with the points on them? – Yeah, sometimes they have points, but I have friends that,
what they look for, is the biggest markdown. You know, $20, but you pay only
$12, or something like that. They look at the top number and they say, “Wow, that must be a really good wine,” and they look at the
bottom number and they say, “Ah, okay,” but if they sold, if you found a car like that, if you were looking for
a used car and it said, “Regularly $20,000, but
for you, only $12,000,” you would say, “What’s wrong with it?” – Yeah, that’s true. – But I have friends
that, when they see that, it’s like a trout going
after a lure, and they just can’t stop themselves from doing that. Part of that, you had one of
your commenters earlier on said that they used the price, because the price informs
them on what to expect. Some of the research suggests
is that when you see a price, your brain, first of all,
is always way too busy. You’re always multi-tasking and that. It’s always looking for short-cuts. When it sees a price, then it
knows that the higher price ought to be justified by higher quality, so it begins to program in an
expectation of higher quality. When they did these awful, I say awful only because
I would hate to be one, these awful MRI studies,
where they put consumers in an MRI and they put
a tube in their mouth, and they feed them wine,
and they tell them stuff? – Yes. – When they told them that it was, they took the same wine, and
when they told them it was, like a $12 wine, the
little part of the brain that shows happiness glowed a little bit. Then, a little later, when they
told them it was $100 wine, same wine, they not only
thought they were happy, but they were actually happy. – They actually were. At least chemically. – Turns out money does
actually buy happiness, in a very limited sense. – Awesome. Why do we fall for this
sale, deal thing in wine and not on cars? Why don’t we look at the
wine that’s on sale and go, “What’s wrong with that wine?” Or do we? – I think there are consumers
that respond in different ways to all of this, for example. I think part of it is that
many other things that we buy, we have experience with
them, or we know about them. You know, in a supermarket,
there are 2,000 different wines and you don’t really know
what’s in that bottle, or, even if sometimes it’s a fine wine, you don’t really know
that vintage very well. You’re working in the
dark more than you are in a lot of other consumer goods. That means that all of this
little bit of information is very influential. – [Natalie] Yeah, it’s true. – But you’ve got to,
then, overcome this idea that price is giving you more
information than it really is. – Huh, that’s great. I always say that there’s
a reason we don’t have orange juice critics, right? – That’s right, that’s right. Or, in the supermarkets around
here, they’ll often have a clerk that lurks around
to help people make decisions, a wine steward. I point out that they don’t
actually have milk stewards. – No, exactly. There’s no one saying, “Buy
that cabbage versus that one.” – That’s it, yeah.
– You’ll be fine. – “Money, Taste and Wine?”
started off as this, and it talks about, to
help people, guide people through how to think about
buying wine in a restaurant, or whether to invest in wine and so forth. Then, in the later chapters,
begin to think of all the different places where
money and taste are involved, excuse me, taste and wine were involved, then you add money to
it, and it changes it. – Money changes everything. Okay, Steven Andrews says, yes absolutely, says, “In your opinion, Mike, “do countries generally set
trade barriers for their wines? “And Canada uses wine to
raise taxes, so our wine becomes overpriced,” Wow, deep economics here. “Compared to European countries.” Any comment on that? – In general, I would
say that they wine trade is relatively free among nations. There are trade barriers and so forth, but in the US we have taxes on
imports from other countries. And Canada has, you in Canada,
I’ve been fortunate to, I think it was 2015, I spoke to both the Ontario Wine Growers Association
and the BC Wine Growers Association the same year. For you, it’s the regulations
in the domestic market that are the greatest
barrier, it seems to me, from your wine in general
growing and blossoming the way I would like to see it. – Exactly, the fact that we
can get a California wine easier than here in on
Ontario, than we can a BC wine. – BC wine, yeah. – It is insane. It’s a grassroots industry. Anyway. Preaching to the converted. – It’s also complicated. – Yeah, it is. All right (laughs) Allen Cameron, “If Mike
were a wine, he’d be a 99, “the Gretzky of your guests. “100 is reserved for God, so
you’re not going to get that.” You’ve got a very high
score tonight, Mike. They don’t usually rate guests. (Natalie laughing) Okay, so let us turn now, I can’t believe how fast this has gone,
which is a testament to how interesting you are, Mike. What I’m calling The Lightning Round. – Okay. – All right. These are a series of quick
questions and short answers because we just love
getting tips and advice as we come to the finish line here. What is the best piece of wine advice you’ve ever received, Mike? – Know thyself, trust thyself. – Exactly, okay. What’s the one thing you
were wrong about, perhaps, as it relates to wine? – Oh, I think I’ve been
wrong about a lot of things. One thing that I think I was wrong about, that a lot of other people
were, is cork closures. I think a dozen years ago,
I kind of wrote off cork. I thought screw caps are getting better, and synthetics and so forth,
but the amount of research and change that there
has been done in order to improve cork closures, now. They’ve even got something called a helix, a screw cork. Have you seen this? – No, I haven’t, yeah, okay. – Google “helix cork.” It solves even that last problem. Now, cork taint, even
in less expensive corks, is virtually eliminated in the world. Cork is back. Because it’s a natural product,
I’m glad that it’s back. I have nothing against the other things. I wrote off cork without knowing, without appreciating how much the cork producers would
invest to resolve their errors, and how much people love cork. – I am glad to hear that. I need to re-examine
my own misperceptions, or hangover perceptions of cork. Thank you for that. What’s the most useful wine gadget that you’ve ever come across? – I’m not a big fan of gadgets. – No?
– For me, corkscrew is, but a friend of mine, earlier this year, showed me some gizmo, where
you take a wine bottle, and you put a thing in
it, and you put a carafe upside-down, and you flip it over, and it gurgles, and you flip it back
over so the aerated wine goes back in the original bottle. It wasn’t very expensive and
I could taste the difference. – That’s so cool. – I’ve got a gadget. – Okay, that’s good. (Natalie laughing) If you could share a bottle
of wine with any person outside of the wine world, living or dead, who would that be? – Outside of the wine world, hmm. Maybe Mark Twain, because he traveled to some of these places. Or Jules Verne. – Oh, Jules Verne, yes. – I think that would be it, yeah. – Hmm, excellent. If you could put up a
billboard in downtown Toronto or Seattle, wherever, what would it say? – If it’s in Toronto, it’s easy. – Okay? – Tweet VQA Wines. – Oh, all right. – There’s so many great
VQA wines in Ontario, and I’d love to see that industry explode. – Fantastic. Finally, what’s the most
interesting question you’ve ever been asked? ‘Cause I’m collecting them. – The most interesting
question I’ve ever been asked. I guess it must be this
one, because it’s a hard– (Natalie laughing) – Okay, so that’s sort of
circular, but that’s fine. That’s great. Okay, Mike, as we wrap
up our conversation, is there anything we have
not covered that you’d like to mention right now? – I just want to say how
much I have enjoyed this, and interacting. I’m looking forward to reading,
when the program is over, reading the comments
your viewers have left. – Absolutely, thank you so much, Mike, because we will, as they
post their comments, you know, you and I will
both dive in there and answer unanswered questions, comment, and so on. That’s part of the ongoing conversation that happens, just not tonight,
but as the week goes on. That always makes it great for everyone who’s here tonight. And so, how can people
best find you online? – Well, you go to, or write to me at [email protected] – Okay. Are you on Twitter as well? – I’m on Twitter at @mikeveseth. – Excellent, Mike, this has
been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for
all of the insider tips. There’s just so many I’m going
to take away and do myself, from how much would I pay for this wine to look again at cork. The whole gamut. It’s been very valuable. Thank you so much for
all of your insights. All right, so we’ll say goodnight for now, but we will be in touch again. You should be a repeat guest, for sure. (Natalie laughing) Okay, bye for now, Mike. – Goodbye.
– Okay, bye bye. All right, folks. We are back again here. Excellent. And I am just reading your comments. As we come to the finish
line, don’t forget, we’re announcing a winner
tonight, so stay tuned. Don’t disappear yet. Please take a moment, in
the comment below, to post the most interesting thing
you’ve learned tonight. Surprisingly tidbit, most interesting. Mine would be, what would
I price this wine at before I know the price? As well as, take another look at cork. If you really loved this
conversation, please share it now. It’s okay, it’s at the
end, but that’s fine. Because when you share
it with your own peeps, they will watch the video
replay, which is a good thing. And if you found this
conversation valuable, share it, add a comment. That always makes it even
more valuable as a share, versus just a straight share. And, if you want to know
every time we go live, that’s Sundays at six,
you’ll get a little ting, which is unobtrusive,
but it will remind you, “Hey, we’re live again with
a very interesting person.” If you want to connect
with me, here are all of my social media links. All of these will take you to where I am on various social media channels. Finally, come on and join
us over at my website. I have a newsletter and so on. Everything’s good over there. Lots to see and do. Okay, folks, so drum roll please. The winner of last
week’s conversation with Vikram Vij, Vikram Vij. His personally signed
cookbook from Vikram Vij is (imitating drum roll) I have to have a sound effect. I haven’t learned how to do
sound effects on this video yet. Is Elaine Bruce! And she’s here tonight! Elaine Bruce. Elaine, you are getting a signed copy of Vikram Vij’s cookbook. So awesome. Folks, we have got a great line-up. Next week we’re going
to have Janet Fletcher, who is talking about cheese and wine. She’s an expert from San Francisco. The week after that, I’m very excited, we have a big time New
York writer, Jay McInerney. You might remember him from
Bright Lights, Big City. I always get that confused. But he’s also written wine
books, and he’s published, probably a dozen books by now. He’s joining us. And then, on the 17th, we’ll have a live, a live, versus a dead, a live
winemaker from Australia, Peter Lehmann’s winemaker, main winemaker. Over Christmas, I’ll take a little break, but I might be doing
some impromptu Facebooks, I just won’t book a guest. We’ll start big time in the new year. If you’ve got suggestions for guests, please post them below. I know I asked for this last week, and I am paying attention
to your comments. Who do you want to see? Who are the most interesting
people in the wine world? Let’s keep this conversation
really interesting. Post your suggestions for guests. They can be food experts,
wine experts, sommeliers, winemakers, celebs who
have an interest in wine, you know, it runs the gamut,
as you’ve seen already from all of the guests
we’ve had so far this year. This is the highlight of my week, so thank you again for joining me. And, yes, congrats to Elaine, excellent. Guys, thank you. Laurie, Murray, Steven
Paul, Neil, excellent. Someone from the cork
industry, absolutely, Neil. Guys, thank you. I’m going to sign out for now, but as always, I am always thinking ahead to our next conversation. I will chat with you soon. Take care.

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