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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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Halloween Candy Overload? 5 Tricks to Get Rid of Your Treats

candyHave a Halloween candy overload in your house? It’s been one week since the big day, so it’s time to think about what to do with all of that leftover sugar tempting your kids (and you!) to indulge until it’s all gone. Here are five suggestions to help wean you off the candy, before the holiday eating begins.

1. Freeze and ration – Chocolate candy freezes well and those bite-sized snacks make for nice, portion-controlled treats. . One serving of miniature Snickers (4 pieces) is 170 calories and 18 g of sugar. So, half that with two pieces and you have a reasonable 85-calorie treat to enjoy.  Note: this takes will power.

2. Donate for a cause - To give thanks to our troops, Operation Gratitude (#saythanks) allows families to donate their unopened candy and the organization will send it to those serving overseas. The Halloween Candy Buy Back program, which benefits Operation Gratitude, sets up sites, through participating dentists, that will accept candy donations in return for toothbrushes and other prizes.

3. Donate to the office – Ask your kids to pick out their favorite pieces and bring the rest…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Nice Numbers You’ve Got There. (So, what’s in it for me?)

pic 1There was once a time when reader impressions ruled. Get a client’s product on the cover of Prevention magazine and you got carried around on a chair.

As we made the shift from bragging about total impressions, we became pleased with ourselves when we could show a client their Facebook followers increased 230% and—hey, look at this—72 people repinned this photo!

The client nods. Then asks the money question: Considering the hefty investment we’ve made in social media, can you show me how all this expensive activity affects my sales?

Good question and one we can be prepared to answer.

Oh, we could get into agent-based modeling and show how ‘persuaders’ affect penultimate decision making. But then, does our client really want to discuss quantitative research? No.

pic 2Let’s get down to it. We are expert surrogates for our clients who trust our knowledge, experience and even our intuition to lead the way. Ten years ago we told them this social media thing is big and it’s time to pounce; they trusted us. Ever since, we’ve developed ‘conversations’ and posted and tweeted and virtually partied…

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Media Relations

How to Get Media to Attend a Boring Event

In public relations, face time between your clients and editors is crucial. It’s especially important in food and beverage PR when you represent a foreign client who visits the U.S. once, maybe twice, a year. Your only opportunity to make a lasting impression with the media and impress the client is by filling every last seat at your event. When your client is in town for 36 hours, there is no room for empty seats.

Yes, sometimes, when the client is in town, there is not necessarily news to report on other than, “Hey, so-and-so is here so let’s get some press out of it!” So the money question is: How do you get media to attend a potentially boring event? 

The short answer: Make it worth their while. Here are three easy tips:

-          Pick a new venue: Host the event at a new restaurant or bar that journalists are dying to go to. Food and beverage editors won’t turn down a free meal at a hot new venue (unless you work for The New York Times), especially if you can schedule your event before…

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The Booze Bin

How to Win a Silver Anvil (while Holding a Glass of Wine)

Shh there's wine in hereI have a confession to make. After more than a decade in booze PR, I have never attended a PRSA conference. I KNOW. It is so crazy, it’s Italian television crazy. But allow me to redeem myself.

I have helped to write, edit and submit more PR award entries than I care to remember. Ok, they were submitted at 11:59pm on the late entry date north of 99% of the time. But that’s not the point. The point is, I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the industry (I’m looking at you, Patrice Tanaka), and whipped, kicking and screaming, into PR award shape.

With the annual PRSA International Conference in DC only a few days away, I am working feverishly with the (ahem, no big deal) SILVER ANVIL award-winning Rioja team to prep our PRSA session, “Pairing Rioja Wine Producers with the U.S. Market.” Truly a team effort, this winning entry was led by the Rioja Trade Campaign Manager, Lauren Ray, assisted by Pablo Olay (Campaign Director), Rebekah Polster (Media Team Supervisor), Daniel Walsh (Trade Team Consultant) and the PR award…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

From Social to Supermarket: Don’t Miss the Link

Campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge render social media’s ability to build awareness and change attitudes unquestioned. But what about its ability to drive consumers into stores and impact actual sales?

As agency of record for many food and beverage products, we’re faced with this question every day. And, while there are still some limitations in tracking specific purchases resulting from specific social media posts, research endorsed by Vision Critical, Harvard Business Review, Integer Group and others indicates that food-related social media activities do in fact forecast future purchases.

So, the question to food marketers then becomes, are you taking full advantage?

Social-to-Sale Food Purchasing

An in-depth study fielded by Vision Critical revealed social media engagement to be a frequent predictor of purchases:

1. 4 in 10 social media users report having purchased an item after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest

2. Those purchases reportedly took place just as often in-store as online

3. Food is among the top categories for social to sale purchasing

Pinterest graphic

Along the same lines, Integer Group research found the social web is a grocery shopping tool for 1…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Pumpkin Panic: Marketing Ourselves into a Corner

This is not a post about Pumpkin Spice Latte.

pumpkinIf I were to judge by one of the predominant memes on social media, one might think that the main food-related conversation around the arrival of the fall season is that spicy, syrupy, coffee-ish beverage at your corner Starbucks. I’m not personally a fan of the drink, but thinking about that omnipresent concoction of cinnamon and cloves was a jumping-off point for my musings on this first Friday of autumn.

Pumpkin – or at least the sensory experience that we associate with “pumpkin” – is such a psychological marker of this time of year. Retailers leverage that fact with orange merchandise displays to give us visual cues, and food companies leverage it with the release of limited-time products such as Oreos to fill our mouths and social lives with pumpkin-y warmth. More than just utilizing a seasonal fruit (it’s botanically a BERRY – who knew?), the product development and marketing efforts are very probably meant to evoke a connection to cozy memories of family, friends, comfort and love. According to food historians, pumpkin pie is truly one of the most authentic…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

3 Forthcoming Food Trends You Need to Know About

From raw to paleo to simple clean eating, consumers everywhere are becoming increasingly interested in their health and nutrition. Even chefs stand witness to consumers requesting lighter and healthier menu options.

The magnitude of this food movement couldn’t be more evident than on the annual U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) Blueberry Boot Camp held at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in Helena, Calif. USHBC invited 16 innovative chefs from top restaurants, hotels, colleges and corporations to experiment with blueberries firsthand in the state-of-the-art CIA kitchen.

So, what did they come up with? A true smorgasbord! Oyster mignonette with blueberry vinegar, blueberry falafel and flank steak with blueberry chimichurri just to name a few.

In addition to their time in the kitchen, the three-day event was an opportunity for chefs to study the health benefits of blueberries. After many discussions and countless taste tests, one thing is clear: healthy must be tasty. It is true, consumers are certainly interested in eating healthier, but raw seaweed just won’t do it. Today, leading chefs are aware that their challenge lies in finding the point at which delicious and nutritious coexist.

After attending the 2013 Blueberry Boot Camp, one chef in particular…

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