Swirls: My proposal for Starbucks wine, Chinese Lafite counterfeits, weighing in on wine bottles

SWIRL: Let’s face it. Finding a casual and convenient place for a quick glass of wine or beer can sometimes be a challenge. So Starbucks is expanding its reach into alcoholic beverages with plans to offer them in seven stores in the Chicago area by the end of next year, the Chicago Tribune reports. Beer and wine are Starbucks-logo1-295x300 currently served at five stores in the Seattle area and one in Portland, Ore. No doubt, the big commercial wine brands are already setting their sites on these re-imagined Starbucks stores. But consider this: how cool would it be if Starbucks were to take a refreshingly un-corporate approach to its wine offerings? Instead of some  marketing committee in Seattle deciding on the wines based on lobbying from the big wine companies, why not offer a sampling of artisanal or lesser-known wines from around the world that changes each week? How about a grüner veltliner from Austria, a cru Beaujolais, or a sparkling Crémant from the Loire Valley with an emphasis on organic and biodynamic growing? Might take a little training of the staff but I have a hunch that many Starbucks customers might be open to a little adventure and smaller-production, sustainable offerings when it comes to wine.

SWIRL: It’s not surprising to hear that in Bordeaux-crazed China, counterfeit bottles of Château Lafite are making the  lafiterounds.  China Digital Times reports that “curiously, China appears to consume far more of the top foreign wines than it actually imports, with counterfeiting rising alongside the legitimate trade. Empty Château Lafite bottles are salvaged from restaurants to be illicitly refilled, and rumours speak of a floating wine factory hidden aboard a cargo ship.” Here’s the full story.

SWIRL: We’ve all received them, those extra-heavy bottles intended to signal a wine’s stature and status, meant to distinguish, say, a reserve wine from a regular bottling. But in this eco-conscious era in the wine industry and beyond, are these bottle behemoths really necessary? Paul Gregutt in the Seattle Times thinks not, and I agree. He cites the growing use of the heavy bottles among wineries in Oregon, a state that, paradoxically, has often led the way on environmental concerns. This story is long overdue.

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