Felix Salmon

Bordeaux datapoints of the day

I’m a little late to this, but Shanken News has the latest Bordeaux export league tables, and they’re quite astonishing. The US is now only Bordeaux’s sixth-largest export market, in both price and volume. Meanwhile, the top spot on the dollar league table — held since time immemorial by the UK — has now moved to Hong Kong.

The pinot heat debate

It’s a #slatepitch custom-made to warm the cockles of Jacob Weisberg’s heart: In Defense of High-Alcohol Pinot Noir. And Mike Steinberger has delivered it. First, he explains the problem, as he sees it:

Beer-drinking charts of the day

How do we know that the world is getting happier? It’s drinking more beer! Here’s the chart, from a new paper by Liesbeth Colen and Johan Swinnen:

Adventures with wine lists, Apiary edition

I had dinner at Apiary last night, and I can recommend it: the food is spectacularly good. But, go on a Monday — free corkage night — and bring your own wine. Because the wine list — which the restaurant describes as “well-rounded and approachable” — is anything but.

The gastronomics of bad service

My first monthly Gastronomics column is up at NYMag, on the subject of the economics of bad service. Why are restaurants which do the best job of maximizing discomfort, inconvenience, and noise also the ones which are the most popular? My theory is that it’s all about signaling: that if restaurants succeed at manufacturing crowds and long waits, people reckon that the place must be good, otherwise everybody else would never put up with such things. And so they become self-fulfilling.

Austerity’s inauspicious historical precedents

One of the best aspects of being a journalist is that you get to talk at length to the most knowledgeable and interesting experts on just about any subject you can think of. For me, yesterday was a prime case in point: a long and fascinating lunch with James Macdonald, the author of my favorite book on the history of sovereign debt. Turns out he also has a microscopic vineyard in Tuscany, so the conversation ebbed wonderfully from economics to wine and back.

The deal, and the catch

Ron Lieber’s column on Prosper and Lending Club misses both the upside and the downside of these peer-to-peer lending platforms, I think. Lieber calls these platforms a “gamble”, in his headline, and lists a number of issues with them. For instance, here’s Lieber on Lending Club:

Wine list of the day, Davos edition

The prize for most obnoxious party at Davos was won on the first night, with the Davos Tasting put on by the Wine Forum.

Desnobbing wine

David Kesmodel reports that US consumers finally seem to be waking up to the fact that there’s no correlation between price and quality when it comes to wine: