The Booze Bin

Making Trade Shows and Event Sponsorships Work for You (Part 1)

If you’ve worked in wine & spirits for more than 90 days, you’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of plonk out there when it comes to events, “food and wine festivals” and even trade shows. There’s no shortage of suspect events clamoring for your marketing dollars and 20-case wine donation. While there are some that have knocked my socks off, I must admit that quality events (by quality I mean those that result in discernible sales or great networking opportunities for a wine brand) are few and far between. And know that the worthy ones are not necessarily in the obvious places! Never underestimate the power of the Florida Panhandle Food & Wine Extravaganza (note: not a real event).


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Sponsorship managers can be an aggressive bunch – as they should be. At any given moment, there’s a deluge of sponsorship decks in my inbox, with all manner of pricey packages to pick from. The requests for “in-kind” wine donations can feel like an avalanche too.  Participating in these events is mentally and financially costly. They’re labor intensive and require a huge amount of detail if they are…

Product Marketing

Angostura Bitters from the Sun-Soaked Islands of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad-and-beach #1


I just came back from a pre-carnival trip to Trinidad & Tobago (T&T). Loved it. It has been exactly twelve years since we last visited. The twin islands are a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures known for their incredible Carnival fetes, beautiful people, incredibly tasty and diverse cuisine, and also being the birthplace of steel pan, limbo and many musical styles from calypso to soca. Trinidad and Tobago is ground zero to the most revered bitters in the world, Angostura.

T&T #2


My first encounter with Angostura was in my in-laws’ kitchen before they became my in-laws (over 20 years ago). I remember staring at the funny looking bottle with the over-sized, newspaper looking label and wondering what it was. My in-laws are both great cooks, and devoted users of Angostura as a “secret” ingredient in stews, curries, seasonings, cakes, cookies, morning coffee and even as an aid to relieve and upset stomach by adding a few drops to water. You can find other creative ways to use bitters here.  The story behind the…

Wine, Food & Nutrition

A Cry for “Yelp”: The Fading Luster of Today’s Food Critic


The Esteemed Food Critic?

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”

Those are the final words from food critic Anton Ego in the animated film Ratatouille. Pixar’s 2007 smash hit film chronicles the efforts of an inexperienced chef who teams up with a highly skilled rat (yes, rat), as the two set out to impress famed and feared restaurant critic Ego—France’s top restaurant reviewer whose columns can determine a restaurant’s future success or failure. The character Pixar created is a stereotypical portrait of what one would imagine a food critic to be like—elitist, intimidating, hard…

PR Industry Trends

Around the World and Under one Roof

Buzz BinWhat a great time to be a consumer that enjoys quality food in the United States….Aka a foodie. Interest in all areas of food continues to achieve unprecedented growth. According to the annual report from The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2016, specialty food sales hit $120.5 billion in the U.S. in 2015. Driving this demand are a couple things: growing consumer interest and concern about where food comes, and an interest in adventurous flavors and international foods.

Small specialty food retailers that carry gourmet foods have arrived on the radar of large retailers like Target and Kroger, who are working overtime to capture some of this market share—consumers who are eager to try new and adventurous foods from harissa to curry. Food & Nutrition reports that “According to Global market research firm Mintel, sales in the ethnic food sector have climbed steadily since 2004, reaching $2.2 billion in 2009 and growing to 8.7 billion in 2012. Analysts predict another growth of more than 20 percent from 2012 to 2017.”

Independent gourmet shops and supermarkets are not the only retailers feeding this demand. Food Halls have upgraded the food court

Media Relations

Cutting Through in Today’s Media Ecosystem


Coverage of the new President has dominated news cycles. In January he set a single month record measured by mediaQuant receiving $817 million in coverage. It has felt a bit all consuming. It also means that journalists and consumers may have little time for your message.

In September 2001, the news was understandably consumed by the attacks on 9/11. As a young PR pro, I was pitching chefs to morning shows for cooking demos to celebrate Mushroom Month. While we considered pulling the plug, what I found was that there was a need to start including comforting and non-controversial topics like food. In today’s environment, even food cannot escape the political discourse. Immigration and trade are crucial issues for food producers, manufacturers and restaurants. Crafting the right angle will help you cut through the noise and get noticed.

People Seeking Comfort: Searching Google Trends there are noticeable spikes in recent months for comfort food searches. While it is that time of year, it doesn’t account for the full jump. Whether people want to be comforted or celebrate, food is a welcome distraction or addition.

The Booze Bin

Building Relationships With the Wine Trade


Huge Wine Store,Don’t be fooled by the simple title, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. The other day, a colleague who typically doesn’t work on our booze business helped us out by confirming wine trade guests for a client event. He later asked me if it was normal for “wine people” to be less-than-friendly toward brand reps and us PR and marketing folks. He was taken aback by some of the reactions he got to his phone calls and I realized that I’ve become desensitized to the standard crankiness that comes with outreach to the people who move the needle on wine sales. This is largely due to the fact that trade folks are extremely busy, overworked and are primarily focused on their customers (not working on whatever it is we are asking them to do for our clients’ brands). In other words, it’s understandable.

Since our top priority as wine marketers is creating alliances with (and being useful to), the wine trade and media so they’ll recommend our client’s brands to their customers more often, relationship building and long term partnerships cannot be stalled by an unwelcoming vibe.

PR Industry Trends

Mind-blowing Gastronomy at Madrid Fusion

Dabiz MuñozLast week I attended Madrid Fusion 2017, one of the leading gastronomy shows in the world, where internationally acclaimed chefs make presentations and discuss the future of food. The event featured gourmet foods and beverage products, ingredients, technologies, creative tableware and food service solutions.

Each year Madrid Fusion grows in relevance and attendance, and this year’s fifteenth edition was the largest with over 117 national and international speakers, 630 accredited national and international journalists, 167 exhibitors and over 12,000 accredited attendees. Chefs, influencers and journalists touched on different trends affecting and influencing today’s top gastronomy within this year’s theme: The Shared World of Haute Cuisine. Future Paths.

Like other events of this stature, the amount of information shared is overwhelming. The following list of people and products most impressed me.

Dabiz Muñoz Chef Dabiz Muñoz  is one of the most polarizing chefs in the world. He has a legion of fans that adore him, and then there are those that are still trying to figure him out. In a recent interview, the chef with his mohawk and wooden spike earrings, described his food as “brutal,” a “gunshot to your…


Why Strong Brands Will Win the Wine Game

image: shutterstock

Millennials are changing the face of the wine world. And they’re doing a pretty kick-ass job of it.

Propelled by a thirst for authenticity and discovery, this new generation of drinkers is embracing both old-world traditions and experimental styles. They’re not just drinking more, they’re drinking better.

Producers around the world are eagerly trying to engage this lucrative yet elusive market. And overall, they are not doing such a kick-ass job.

With a mass of curious new-comers on their doorstep, most of those trying to sell to them are doing so in the cryptic lingo of the wine aficionado—with promises of “bramble berries,” “old saddle leather” and “forest floor” as an attempt to start the conversation. While others, fueled by trends reports and superficial demographic data, are pursuing an opposite yet equally flawed strategy, of bending over backwards to show their audience how well their wine will fit into a mundane, millennial existence. (“You can pair it with pizza! You can take selfies with it!”)

“This wine pairs perfectly with my ADD, you guys.”

Neither strategy is…

PR Industry Trends

How Amazon May Revolutionize the Foodservice Industry


Next time you’re shopping, just walk out. No, we’re not talking about shoplifting. We’re talking about Amazon’s new robotized grocery store called Amazon Go. The new shopping experience promises its customers “no lines, no checkout – just grab and go.”

This past December, the first Amazon Go store opened its doors to employees near its headquarters in Seattle. While the Seattle location has plans to open to the public early 2017, the e-commerce giant has confirmed that the rest of the pilot program will hit major cities, including Las Vegas, New York, Miami, and San Francisco by 2018.

The new grocery concept lets customers walk in, grab food and walk out, without ever having to stand in a checkout line. Easy peasy. This revolutionary technology uses machine learning, sensors and artificial intelligence for a seamless shopping experience. Zoolander & Hansel were right all along – it is in the computer.

As customers walk into their store, they simply tap their cellphones on a turnstile logging them into the store’s network and connecting them to their Amazon account through an app. The technology tracks what items customers pick up and then adds them to the app’s virtual cart. When

Wine, Food & Nutrition

QUICK! Name Your Customer’s Favorite Restaurant.

Friends eating at picnic table in park

What did you eat yesterday? For me, it was yogurt and berries, kale and chickpea salad, some almonds and a feta burger washed down with a martini (okay fine, and a glass of wine). Nothing outrageous or even that decadent. But now, consider the source for all these foods – at home, one of those food app delivery services, my office “stash” and a neighborhood restaurant. Sound familiar? We—consumers—purchase food to make or eat at home as well as regularly rely on restaurants or prepared food sections at grocery stores (“grocerants” as they’re now called by some). So as marketers of packaged foods or agricultural commodity boards, why do we only look to understand consumer behavior at retail and ignore foodservice?

Let me underscore the urgency of this question. According to Technomic, Inc., 49% of the total food industry revenue is derived from foodservice operators. Or, nearly 50-cents of every dollar consumers spend on food and beverage is away from home. It stands to reason that the choices your target audience makes in the grocery aisles are affected by the decisions they’ll make when in a restaurant. Having a broader, well-rounded understanding of these preferences and motivations and