Wine, Food & Nutrition

“Nobody Better Lay a Finger On My Butterfinger!”

NesteCandyBarsEarlier in the week Nestlé USA announced plans to remove all artificial food colors and flavors from its line of chocolate candy by the end of 2015. These additives will be replaced with natural counterparts such as annatto, a seed that gives off a bright red pigment. According to Nestlé’s press release, the revised products will begin appearing on shelves mid-year and will be identified by a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” claim on the wrapper. This is nothing new for the UK where several food dyes have been banned since 2009 based on findings from scientific studies linking the consumption of these additives to hyperactivity in children.

Several artificial food dyes are approved by the FDA. They are added to foods to make them look attractive and sometimes more appealing to children. There is a body of evidence out there, but the reality is that food dyes have not been proven to adversely affect the behavior of children with ADHD or otherwise. However, many of the food products that contain artificial colorings are extremely high in sugar and therefore they should be eaten in moderation.

Nestlé claims the change is being made…

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Media Relations

The Glaringly Obvious Similarities Between Snowmaggedon and Organic Products

starksnowflakeCongratulations, Everyone. You’ve made it to mid-February and you’re probably still going to the gym and eating incredibly healthy (I said you – not me). With that New Year glow about you, you must be attending the local farmer’s market perusing organic-only cheese and vegetables, right?

If you live anywhere between the Midwest and the East Coast, it’s another story. Plummeting temperatures today in New York are giving us a “Real Feel” of -7. And at this point, we expect meteorologists are having a field day coming up with another snowy term for ice cold weather. Snowmageddon. Polar Vortex. What’s next?

And what do these freezing temperatures have anything to do with your organic sunscreen or makeup? Here are three pieces of evidence:

1. Monopolizing the Media Conversation

You have a winter storm on the way, so what do your TV and newspapers become? Scare tactic-filled devices that force you to run to the supermarket and gas station to fill up on Wonder Bread, in the case that you might be house-bound for days on end.

Sound familiar? Today’s consumer health and food and beverage media have created an anxious consumer who now believes…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

The Year of Tapas & Small Plates

1Spain has been mastering small plates since the days of old. Take a walk down Logroño’s Calle Laurel to witness the true spirit of Spain’s tapas tradition. Some call it a tapas pilgrimage, others call it a crawl (likely depends on how much wine is consumed). Tourists and locals alike take this journey for a truly authentic Spanish experience hopping from one bar to the next enjoying a different tapas at each stop.

Today, we’re seeing this Spanish-inspired trend move across borders. Many American chefs & restaurants are saying goodbye to big portions and hello to small plates.

For the diners who want it all, small plates are ideal. Offering them the opportunity to broaden their menu selection releases their adventurous side. Can’t decide between the short rib and crab cakes? Why put your diners in a difficult situation when small plates allow your diners to have the best of both worlds!

Chef tasting menus are another way restaurants are showcasing small plates. These pre-set menus are designed to be a journey through the chef’s top dishes or personal favorites.  Chicago’s Alinea serves up an impressive 24-course tasting menu as the “grand tour”…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Trends You Need to Know From the Winter Fancy Food Show

The specialty food industry is more robust and innovative than ever before. It is a great time to be in the gourmet foods business, and there is no better place to see the latest and greatest than the Fancy Food Show. Walking the floor with a keen eye, you will uncover the hottest categories, boldest flavors and latest trends shaping the industry’s growth.

Fresh JerkyFresh Jerky: It sounds oxymoronic, but this is not your father’s jerky if you’re thinking of the tough leathery jerky he’d grab while fueling up the car on that road trip. I first discovered this new age of jerky while dining at Country Cat in Portland Ore. The Hand Cut House Beef Jerky was an eye opener that quickly disappeared when passed around the table. Brands are bringing it to retail combining better meats with a more natural process delivering delicious results. Krave has had great success in the category, but it is facing increased competition. Chef’s Cut Real Jerky had a selection of beef, chicken and turkey jerky. Chef Blair even let me have a taste of a pork tenderloin jerky he…

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The Booze Bin

Parker’s Predictions, A Decade Later

saved my points






It’s January and that can only mean two things. One, I’m trying to figure out whether to eat a sensible dinner or spend my points on a few glasses of wine instead, and, two, the annual ritual of booze trend forecasts are flooding the interwebs.

This is nothing new, but it got me thinking. How many of these predictions actually come true? Foreseeing next year’s trends is a challenge, but what about those from a decade from now? Woo-wee! Who would be bold enough to put themselves on the line like that? Robert Parker, that’s who.

So, let’s see how the “Million-Dollar Nose” fared. Just over a decade ago, Parker put forward a prediction in Food & Wine magazine:

fw200410_120Robert M. Parker, Jr., the world’s foremost wine guru, makes 12 bold predictions about seismic changes that will influence how we’ll shop, what we’ll buy and how much we’ll pay.

TWELVE!? That is so crazy, Bob, it’s Italian television crazy. More importantly, it’s way too long for me to prove or disprove in a single blog post and…

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2015 Food Trends: What we love, hate and can’t wait to start

Each January is jam-packed with trend analyses and predictions, and the food/beverage/nutrition world is no exception. Here, instead of restating what was or professing to know what will be, our cross-category team of food marketing experts shares its hopes and dreams for the good, the bad and the not-yet-developed trends.

FOOD MEDIA – Max Martens

A trend I hope to see continue:  

Printed recipe illustrations

Seeing recipe ingredients deconstructed and laid artfully side by side demystifies complex dishes and gives us publicists a way to gain awareness for ingredients that aren’t always visible in a finished dish.

HappinessIs (Source: HappinessIs blog)

A trend I hope to see fade:


They aren’t unique to food journalism, but in this genre I’m tired of seeing the likes of “the five pancakes to eat before you die” and “top 20 restaurants with secret menus.”

A trend I hope to see start:

Some sort of reconciliation between the extremes of typical eye-grabbing consumer food headlines

Deprivation and decadence. Diets vs. deliciousness. Let’s face the fact that food can be really good ­AND good for you if you do it right.



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Digital Marketing

Beyond impressions – key PR metrics for 2015

The New Year provides new opportunities to do great work for your clients.  In the wine industry, success is measured by the number of cases sold and marketing, sales and PR are ultimately evaluated by how much they contribute to the “bottom line.” At the end of the day, the main question is: How much was sold?

As communication professionals, we appreciate a good challenge. How PR contributes to sales and how to measure that connection is an evergreen challenge.  A recent PR Newswire survey proved that the most common PR goals are (still) outputs, not outcomes. Who doesn’t want media coverage (an “output” goal), but how do media hits translate to very real outcomes, like web traffic, conversions, sales leads, etc.? PR measurement guru Katie Paine is known for her opinion that “HITS are How Idiots Track Success.” While I wouldn’t go that far, there are great metrics to complement your target number of impressions when creating 2015 goals for your client.

Earned Media

A media placement is the result of hard work, but don’t stop at reporting the number of impressions. Observe…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

A Feast for the 99%: Why Now is One of the Best Times for Good Food

As 2014 draws to a close, pundits in every industry category are assembling lists recounting memorable happenings from the past year and predictions for the coming year. (A full commentary on past and future food & beverage trends from me and my colleagues at PadillaCRT is slated for January – stay tuned.) I’ll avoid a listicle here but focus instead on one aspect of the food landscape that has been slowly changing for a while and continues to do so in notable ways as we approach the quinceañera of the new millennium:

Casual food is becoming more sophisticated and fine dining is loosening its tie.

pic 1Where I live in Los Angeles, we’ve been both lauded and blamed for these related happenings. I always feel compelled to dress a notch nicer when I go out for dinner when visiting Manhattan, but here on the Left Coast it’s perfectly acceptable and expected to show up at trendy restaurants in jeans. Traditionalists might scoff at the dearth (or death?) of decorum. On the flip side, it wasn’t that long ago that Chef Roy Choi left behind the trappings of the Beverly Hilton, started a gourmet food…

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The Booze Bin

Top Wine Blog Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close, bringing on that wild urge to come up with another ‘Best Of’ wine blog list. I just can’t help myself.

Below are some recommendations from my favorite, go-to wine blogger buddies (read: nerds) of their favorite blog posts of the year, and a few of my own. Hopefully, you have a little downtime around the holidays to catch up on these goodies from the past year.

Happy reading!

Thea Dwelle, Luscious Lushes

Long-time wine blogger (7 ½ years) and funny gal pal, Thea had this to say when asked which blog she loved from 2014:

                  Bill Eyer’s recent post on “Are Wine Blogs Dead?” really resonated with me as one of the few people that have been blogging for 6+ years. He hit the nail on the head with reasons that we step away, or take a break, and had fresh ideas to re-inspire – all because of his own struggles.

Paul Mabray, VinTank

Clearly Paul of VinTank, Napa’s wine think tank, follows a solid lineup of blogs, as his favorite list was LONG. A few of note:

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PR Industry Trends

Top 3 Beverage Alcohol Trends for 2015

It’s not even December, yet the web is already buzzing with predictions on what’s hot in the wine and spirits industry in 2015. Maybe someone took their cue from Walmart, which started selling Holiday decorations the day after Halloween.

Like it or not, trend reports, much like holiday decorations, no longer wait for sweater weather. Jumping on the band wagon, here are three emerging beverage trends for 2015.

The Boilermaker Celebrates a Comeback

In 2015, craft cocktails will share the spotlight with simpler, more straight-forward drinks, such as a shot and a beer, known as a “boilermaker.” Case in point, The New York Times recently published a full-page feature on the classic pairing. Some of these pairings are the usual cheap-whiskey-and-cheaper-beer marriages one expects, but more sophisticated duos are making their way into bars across the country.

Wine Pairings Go East

Asian food will continue to be a huge trend next year, so think about how to educate your audience on clever pairings for your alcohol beverage brands. For the best pairings with Ramen noodles, Vietnamese Pho and Korean street food-inspired grub, Wine…

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