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05.10.2011

The Perils of the New Wine Economy

We live in remarkable times. The pace of technological innovation and the remarkable changes that globalization has wrought upon the world economy are staggering in their scope. As wine lovers, we have never had access to more great wines at any time in history.

The ways and sources of buying wine have exploded in the last twenty years. We've gone from a wine economy that was rooted in local retail stores (and some large multi-national auction houses) to a modern, globalized world of e-commerce, where most of the wines that anyone could want to get their hands on are available online.

Peer-to-peer wine sales have gone from the fringes of awareness to being mainstream while the relationship between producers and consumers also grows ever stronger.

In this brave new world, it's no surprise, then, that the idea of buying or selling wine on Craigslist would arise at some point. I mean, you can pretty much buy anything on Craigslist, so why not wine?

Well that's precisely what Quy Duc Nguyen thought when he saw some Chateau Lafite Rothschild up for sale in Queens, NY. Unafraid to make the trek from California to locate some great bottles, he was rewarded with genuine wine at a price he wanted to pay.

But when he made a second trip for a second vintage of Lafite, instead of returning home with collectible bottles, he stumbled into the street bleeding from a head wound and robbed of the $40,000 cash he had brought with him to make the transaction, according to newspapers.

Apparently some deals are too good to be true. Note to self: Craigslist is not the right place to buy vintage First Growths. Ouch.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.