Monday, April 7, 2008

After the Curtain Falls

So after another brief weekend, I have had time to digest all of the comments made to me at the past weekend’s wine tastings here at LD Covington, many concerning this year’s Cincinnati International Wine Festival. A LOT OF PEOPLE said this very same thing to me: “I was extremely disappointed at what was at the CIWF this year.” Many of our customers who braved the drunken debauchery of the CIWF this year were overwhelmed by the number of wines yet underwhelmed by both the quality of said wines, and the lack of decent food. I guess Kroger’s Private Selection eats do not qualify as acceptable when you’re spending $70 for admission, but that is just me – as well as virtually every customer of mine that went.

Now, I tell people this every year, that you can’t just go to this event without a game plan. You’ve got to do a bit of early recon before sojourning out to the Convention Center. Find out what is there that you haven’t tried, or wines you haven’t had in awhile and figure out where they are in the floor plan and go.

Huge praise goes out to Audrey Wood and TGIC Importers, Mark Maher and Cutting Edge Selections, David Kantor and Vineyard Brands, and all the good people of Vintner Select with the Robert Whale Selections, Marc de Grazia, Hendry wines and Alain Junguenet booths and a massive thank you to John Erickson and the Wimbledon Wines booth. There were other good wines there to be sure, but the aforementioned exhibitors were my standouts.

What really threw me for a loop was the special tasting room, which cost festival-goers an additional $35! Wow! Does that come with a massage? Is there one of those swag bags like the ones they give out at the Oscars? It sort of takes away from the spirit of the event, which is to promote the adventure of wine appreciation and the discovery of new tastse, but again, that’s just me.

With all the fantastic wines out there, you would think that there were be more of them represented, but when it is primarily driven by a few distributors, there is not much objectivity there. And the medal winners – I am almost embarrassed to be a judge for this event. I will probably not be asked to do it next year after this, but I always call it like I see it. No B.S. here.
I hope that the people who attended send comments to the Wine Festival board, in the hopes that more attention is paid to the product being sold than it was this year. The event has the potential to be really amazing, yet it certainly falls flat, especially this year.

If you do have comments concerning the CIWF this year, please let me know at or you can send them directly by visiting the contact page at


Anonymous said...

My Kevin wrote a review of the wine festival as well ( We didn't pay much attention to the food, really, because it is Kroger PS. Last year I complained about that - especially since I think they should put the chocolate near a port wine, etc. They seriously need to think over placement. And ice cream? With wine? Anyway, our big complaint was the "special" tasting room. As one commenter on my blog pointed out, we don't need to make wine more elitist. We should make it less.

springpeepers said...

My rant:
Thanks to Kevin for his on the money comments on the recent edition of the CIWF. He pointed out what many of us have commented on privately for years. Note: most of my acquaintances no longer attend because of the mediocrity of the wine selections.
Charging a premium to taste premium wines is a customer unfriendly solution to a problem created by the promoters. The promoters invite distributors to offer vast quantities of average uninteresting wines in hopes that this will appeal to wine drinkers...quantity vs quality?
Then they decide to charge a premium for "serious" wine drinkers to feel "included" in the event.
I fear that Kevin's suggestions made to the CIWF promoters will fall on deaf ears. What we can expect from CIWF promoters most likely will be higher gate fees,more average uninteresting wines, mediocre and inappropriate food selections,reduced duration of the event, more lines,and even other inappropriate beverage promotions.