So…this happened: the wines I import from Domaine Marion Pla in the Languedoc got a lovely review in the Washington Post. I didn’t know about it, though, and was surprised when I started getting orders for the wines. My customers pointed me to the online review, which was released Thursday, September 13.
By 8:00 that evening I had nearly two dozen orders. All but four of them were from outside the DC metro area. The print review appeared the following Wednesday, September 19, and I’ve had just a handful of additional orders since then, all in DC or close-in Virginia.
Believe it or not, I’m not writing about this simply for self-aggrandizement (although you should go right to our website and order wine after reading this, of course…) I was surprised by the disparity between orders after the online vs. print edition of the review. The last time I got a similar review, back in 2014, all of the orders came after the review appeared in print. And while back in 2014 people ordered the wines reviewed almost exclusively, this time many online readers also decided to try a range of selections. The print readers again largely stuck to what was in the review.
I contacted the Post about increases in the digital-only subscriptions since January 2014, and what percentage of those subscriptions were for people outside the DC Metro area. While the Post doesn’t make most circulation information public, here’s what I learned: as of this time last year, the Post passed the one million mark for digital subscriptions, which was double the number they had as of January 1, 2017. They’ve been increasing exponentially since 2014.
I suspect that the Post’s national coverage has been a big draw since the beginning of 2017. So it’s no surprise that online subscriptions are way up. In fact, one customer told me she had been reading about “the catastrophe(s) plaguing our country” and turned to reading about wine. I’m happy to hear that people are venturing beyond the headlines to other sections of the paper.
What does this mean for online vs. print readers ordering wine? There weren’t enough orders here for definite conclusions. But here are three things I took from it:
1) There wasn’t a difference in ages between customers who read the review online vs. print. Since customers have to give their birthdates to order I could check this out. Everyone who ordered was over age 35, and while the five youngest customers ordered after reading online, so did the five oldest customers (all born in the 1940s). The rest of the customers, both online and print readers, ranged between 45 and 60 years old.
2) Online reading is more conducive to online ordering than print. Copy the link, paste, and you’re there. And at least this time, it may have led to ordering beyond the reviewed selections. Part of that may be that they wanted to add bottles to get free shipping. But three customers told me they wanted to try the reviewed wines because they were from the Languedoc and ordered other First Vine Languedoc selections. (And they strayed over to the Rhône Valley, too.)
3) Potential customers reading a print review may require more than just the review to order online. I suspect I received more orders after the 2014 print review than this latest one because the earlier review was part of an article about the origin of those wines – the story of my father and his family in World War II, and a heroine of the French resistance who helped them. Definitely more compelling than the everyday wine review, and in fact I got quite a few e-mails through our website about the story, even if those readers didn’t order wine.
I wonder how many more orders I’d have received from online readers if the Post had the same number of online subscribers back then. I’d love to hear from readers about how they order wine online and what drives them to it. And I bet I’m not the only one, so please write in!
I’ve written before about my husband Cy growing peppers in pots on the concrete slab in back of our house and how I’ve started canning them. This year we have Italian cherry peppers, pepperoncini, banana peppers, and jalapeños. I’ve pickled them all, and as usual was searching around for ways to use them.
Cy and I were watching Pati Jinich’s “Pati’s Mexican Table” on TV one evening and she made Tuna Minilla Casserole. It’s a tuna pot pie, and the filling has onion, tomato, pickled jalapeños, capers, raisins, and olives in it. Cy and I loved it! I asked Pati for permission to reprint the recipe and she graciously agreed.
A couple of things here: I only used the top crust, while Pati’s recipe gives you an option of a double-crust pie. Also, the photo on Pati’s website doesn’t show it, but I could swear the one I saw her make on her show had sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the crust. So I added them as an option. Pati recommends puff pastry, but you could also use a pie crust if you like. She also makes empanadas with the filling, which is a good idea if you don’t want to have the entire pot pie. Finally, the recipe calls for two seven-ounce cans of tuna, which are hard to find these days. I used three five-ounce cans instead.
Of course, you could drink any of the wines in the Post review with the pot pie. Cy and I had another of our new selections, Bois de Montlobre ($15). It’s 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah, from Les Vignerons du Pic, a cooperative winery in Assas, France. The Bois, or woods, of Montlobre are just northwest of Montpellier in the Languedoc, and the wine is earthy with a little ripe fruit. It paired perfectly with the brightness of the tuna filling and the buttery puff pastry. In fact, that’s my review – serve this wine with Tuna Minilla Casserole!
Recipe from “Pati’s Mexican Table” on PBS with Pati Jinich. Reprinted with the author’s kind permission.
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-1/2 pounds chopped plum tomatoes (about 6)
2-7 ounce cans of tuna, drained and shredded
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste
¼ cup roughly chopped raisins
¼ cup Manzanilla olives stuffed with pimentos, roughly chopped
¼ cup seeded and roughly chopped pickled jalapeño chiles, store-bought or homemade
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (if you want to do a double-crust pie – for a pot pie with a top crust you’ll need only one sheet)
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (optional, for glaze)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it’s hot but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook until it’s soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until completely cooked, softened and mashed-up and pasty looking, about 15 minutes.
Toss in the tuna, and with a spatula or wooden spoon, mix it well with the tomato mixture, making sure there are no big chunks. Add the bay leaves, brown sugar, oregano, thyme, salt and mix well. Add the raisins, olives, pickled jalapenos, capers, fresh parsley and mix well. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for about 10 minutes, the mixture should be very moist but not watery. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Remove the bay leaves and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out 1 thawed sheet of pastry about 1/8-inch thick to line the bottom and sides of a round baking dish (you may wish to add a pastry sheet in the bottom and top of the casserole, or only on the top!). Add the tuna filling to the puff pastry lined baking dish, using a rubber spatula to evenly spread the filling. Roll out another thawed sheet of pastry and use to cover the tuna filling – pinching the edges of the 2 sheets of pastry together to seal. (If you’re using only a top crust, put the filling into a greased round dish, like a deep pie plate, and put the crust on top. Press the crust into the lip of the dish to seal it.)
Optional: brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle the sesame seeds on.
Cut 4 to 5 vents on the top. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, until crisp, puffed up and golden brown.