The Booze Bin

You say coffee I say café

Nearly 85% of the adult population in the US drinks coffee. In fact, we are the largest coffee consuming nation in the world. Americans drink roughly 400 million cups a day or 146 billion per year. These are astonishing numbers for an industry that less than 25 years ago was considered unexciting by most consumers. Then came Starbucks and the rest is history. We’ve gone from drinking mass-produced coffee to specialty coffee. Consumers today are more educated about coffee than ever before. In my case, and like many coffee drinkers out there, I know what I like, but my knowledge about coffee is limited.

During a recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to meet with my friend Jorge Ruiz from Cerro Grande.  He and his wife Sandra are both masters in their industry: master tasters, and walking encyclopedias on anything that has to do with coffee. Their expertise spans coffee farming to B2B to direct to consumer. Over a cup of coffee, we spoke about the industry and some of the latest trends:

What do you enjoy the most about your job

Consumer Marketing

Getting Americans to Drink More Wine

A few years ago, by sheer volume alone, we became the #1 wine consuming nation in the world. Though this was due to the size of our population (not per capita drinking), it was still a notable accomplishment. The numbers say that wine consumption continues to inch upward in the U.S.

Despite the statistics, those of us deep in the wine marketing trenches can see that wine appreciation in the U.S. has a long way to go before it becomes a part of our most-of-the-time diet, especially outside major cities. I probably need to get out more, but I often think about how we can get more Americans to drink more wine. Stay with me here, this is not just about increasing demand. Why should we drink more wine in the first place? In a nutshell, it will help us be healthier and happier.

It’s no secret that the typical diet and relationship to food in many wine-producing countries is of noticeably higher quality than ours. In Spain, France, Italy and Greece for example, the quality of ingredients and meals is significantly valued over quantity.…

The Booze Bin

Making Wine Trade Shows and Event Sponsorships Work for You (Part 2)

The other day a friend asked me to review a sponsorship proposal he drafted, geared towards a big- name spirits brand. He undoubtedly regretted this, as it earned him a semi-rant on what NOT to do. Which reminded me of all the event sponsorship and trade show gripes I’ve accumulated over the years. Perfect for a follow up to my previous Booze Bin post!

All jokes aside, when deciding how to allocate precious client funds and product (whether it’s for someone else’s event or a trade show), we’re always looking for maximized returns and amplified opportunities. Few (work-related) things feel as great as putting together a client recap with results that exceed what was promised.

In Part 1 of this post, I discussed selecting the right events and shows, how to avoid paying sticker price and how to get the most bang for your buck. This is still less than half the battle. I’m back to tell you how to work backwards to ensure an end-result that knocks it out of the park for your client and the event producers too.

The writer at one

The Booze Bin

BBQ & Brews: Your Pairing Guide for National Barbecue Month

Mmmmmmm, can you smell it? There’s nothing quite like the savory aroma of food being cooked over a fire. Whenever someone in my neighborhood is cooking out, I immediately want to run over and chow down. Whether it’s chicken or steak or shrimp, or even a Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus burger, I’ll take it. And we all know that a frothy, cold beer goes hand in hand with any deliciousness cooked up on the grill.  So let’s explore some craft beer and barbecue pairings for one of the tastiest months of the year—National Barbecue Month! (Who knew there was such a month? I like it. A lot.)Steak
Let’s start with the (in my opinion) best-smelling-while-it’s-cooking meat. Because steak is hearty with rich flavor, it pairs well with heavier beers that will help enhance the beefy taste. The darker, smoked malts used in porters create a roasted flavor that pairs perfectly with a decadent grilled steak. Stouts have similar qualities, and are also a good choice.

Porters to try: Smuttynose Robust Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Rogue Mocha Porter

The Booze Bin

La Cité du Vin – An interactive wine museum like no other


la cite du vin

During my travels around the storied Bordeaux wine region last week, I had the opportunity to visit La Cité du Vin, a new wine museum that opened last year in the beautiful city of Bordeaux. It impressed me so much,  I spent almost three hours there, but I could have easily spent another three. There is fascinating information for wine aficionados, novices, experts, non-drinkers, and even children to experience via brilliant technology and digital works of art. The museum incorporates multiple cutting edge interactive exhibits that engages multilingual visitors, seamlessly teaching everything there is to know about wine. La Cité du Vin focus is not only French wines but highlights some of the most important wine producing countries in the world and their storied wine regions. The exhibits achieve this through a combination of interactive maps, 3D photos, interviews of famous winemakers and digital books that explain each regions’ terroir, grape varieties, wine styles and other cultural aspects.dining experience 2

The visual and audio aspects of the museum captivate visitors in an array of intriguing installations. There are special spaces where one can sit at a dining table to learn about wine pairings and etiquette while looking at a hologram of a famous chef or master of wine sitting across from them. The museum also has a fantastic area showcasing the aromas, textures, colors, etc. that are found in wines. In this section, you truly get a lesson

The Booze Bin

What Booze Marketers Should Know About the Mindfulness Movement

Image Credit: SomeEcards

When in 2012 one of UVA’s most illustrious donors, Paul Tudor Jones, announced a $12 million gift to establish a Contemplative Sciences Center to foster “modern applications of contemplative thought,” people thought he was bonkers. Today, as the mindfulness movement seeps into more and more touchpoints in our lives, we’re realizing that Paul was not bonkers – he was actually five years ahead of the rest of us.

Since 2012, Google searches for “yoga” increased 40%, searches for “meditation” grew 51% and searches for “purpose” shot up 56% (Google Trends). Type in “mindfulness” on Pinterest and you’ll see hundreds of pages of infographics, videos and inspirational quotes to help you eat better, sleep better, ease stress and live with intention.

Ironically, the more time we spend texting, tweeting and snapchatting with each other, the more we find ourselves yearning to make meaningful connections with people who share our values. But our society-wide addition to our smartphones makes it feel impossible to just turn the damned things off and interact with our friends. Instead, we turn to novel, organized gatherings of people with shared interests –…

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).


Image Credit:

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…

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.


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…