I've been running from industry tasting to industry tasting the last few weeks, not only tasting the new releases and other new wines available this fall, but also picking up tidbits here and there about what's what and otherwise on the minds of winemakers, importers, distributors and, of course, consumers. I find it absolutely fascinating to compare these 'hallway musings' with what I read on various blog sites and in on-line trade mags. This gives me a sense of whether these conversations are local to the MA/New England market, or if they are more global. Today I can't help but give you a snapshot of these ruminations, hopefully giving you the chance to be "a fly on the (wine trade) wall"! The question of the strengthening dollar. I can't tell you how many folks have asked why wine prices are still high when the dollar is getting stronger (granted, a relative concept). No surprise, it's on everyone's mind. I can't wait myself! Well, in uncertain economic times, no one is more anxious to start sharing the 'winnings' than the importers of fine wines from Europe. After all, wine does go sour eventually! If they can't unload it then they're the ones who will really be hurting. The thing is, the wine already on shelves is wine that was purchased when the dollar was particularly weak. I think we'll see things start to turn around soon enough, though. Dr. Vino seems to have the same take. Importers are eagerly biding their time, waiting for the wares they are now buying overseas (at a better price) to come to market here in the U.S.. Check out his interview with Victor Owen Schwartz of Vos Selections to get an inside peak into this topic.

The question of the California wildfires. Here's another one I find fascinating to discuss. Several weeks ago I reported the California harvest season had started and early reports were favorable for the 2008 vintage despite the wildfires that ravaged the area. I won't get to taste these wines for another year or two or three (depending on the varietal). But there are some folks who are so lucky to get a preview! Alice Feiring reported this week an essence of smoke is present in the various wines she's sampled. She banters a bit about whether this should be considered "taint" or not; her discussion is highly entertaining - and worth checking out first hand. Her reflections (aka witty banter) is available here. If what she writes is true, I may become more of a California wine drinker in years to come... I love a little smoke in my wine!

The latest in Wine, Politics, and (silly) Journalism. It irks me when the press gets hold of some silly little thing and goes bonkers talking abou it. Don't we have anything better to do here, people?! Well, this week there's one regarding wine that in my mad wine tasting week I nearly missed. So just in case I'm not the only one, here's one for the watercooler.... Palin wine, a Chilean winery that's only in its infancy, has both taken off and taken a hit since McCain nominated Sarah Palin as his running mate. Let's just say its success depends on whether you live in a blue or red state/area in the country where this wine is available. I can't help but roll my eyes as I attach this link to Decanter's article. (If you want to read something a bit more serious on politics and wine, don't forget that Wine Book Club is discussing Tyler Coleman's latest release at the end of next month!)

What wine-related topics have been at the forefront of your newsfeed this week? What's your take on the ones I touched on here?