Internet Extortion

We already know, thanks to human nature, the internet can be wonderful, the greatest communications tool since Gutenberg played around with type. It also can be a savagely cruel and ruthlessly greedy place.

Alas, barbarians of the internet may be at the gates of the wine world.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) assigns generic top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com and .org. So far, other than those for countries, ICANN has created less than a dozen TLDs.

Now ICANN is under pressure to create hundreds more, and the wine world howls in protest because .wine, .vin, and .vino are among those considered.

The Napa Valley Vintners trade association objects because “this would be a whole new playground for people to trade illegitimately on the Napa name.”

Unless there are restrictions on who can buy what, wine companies and associations could be forced to purchase various iterations of their name to keep them out of the hands of web villains. Napa, for instance, would have to buy,,,,, – permutations are almost endless. And companies would pay to keep those domain names every year.

Wine associations protest such a system is tantamount to extortion, potentially forcing them to purchase hundreds of domain names to protect brand integrity.

The most famous such internet play was, which took schoolchildren researching the American president to lessons in hard-core pornography.

It’s enough to drive someone to drink. Wine, maybe even the harder stuff.

Tasting notes:
•  Beringer Red Moscato. Not your mommy’s moscato-sweet flavors of moscato, red berry from zin, dark cherry from petite sirah; saporous summer sipper. $7
•  Proeza Douro 2009. Plenty going on here-bright cherry, plum, red and dark fruits; smooth tannin, easy drinking, crowd pleasing Portuguese value winner. $9
•  Wild Horse Chardonnay Central Coast 2011. Light, fresh, dry, easy drinking; apple, lemon; butter, creamy vanilla; excellent everyday chard. $17

Last round: Drunk is feeling sophisticated when you can’t pronounce “sophisticated.”