This is the first of a two-part look at what's new with wine packaging. On Monday, I'll look in more detail about what might replace glass bottles.
Be prepared for some big changes in the way wine is packaged, and that doesn't mean more screwtops.
Yes, most wine is still sold in a traditional glass bottle with a traditional cork. But more wines are going to be packaged in more ways, odd though they may seem, over next couple or years ? single-serve bottles, juice boxes, and even plastic and aluminum bottles.
Quite a bit, actually, if a book called The Wine Trials is to be believed. Robin Goldstein, a very personable fellow, put together tasting panels last spring in several cities, including Austin. At the various panels, 500 volunteers tasted 540 wines blind, ranging from $1.50 to $150.
Blind means they didn’t know what they were tasting. This, says Goldstein, explains why a $10 Washington state sparkling wine outscored a $150 Dom Perignon.This is what happens when you “get past the jargon and pomposity of wine writing,” says Goldstein. “People shouldn’t have to apologize for serving cheap wine.”
This is the first of three parts looking at the state of Texas wine. Today, an overview of current trends. On Thursday, a Texas wine of the week. On Friday, some of the most interesting wines that are currently available.
The good news is that the quality of Texas wine is better than it has ever been. The not so good news? Some of the same problems that have cropped up over the past decade are still there — price/quality ratios that are out of whack, dirty and unclean wines, and poor fruit quality.
? Pour another glass of red wine: One of the most common questions that the Wine Curmudgeon gets is about wine and heart disease. Yes, apparently, there is some evidence red wine makes a difference. And now comes news that it also may help fight cancer, according to researchers at the University of Rochester. A natural antioxidant found in grape skins has destroyed some pancreatic cancer cells. The other key to the study? Drink wine in moderation, said the lead researcher.
? Burgundy prices skyrocket: By as much as 20 percent — and it’s not like Burgundy was inexpensive to begin with. The weak dollar, as usual, is to blame (as I wrote here, if I may be allowed to note my prescience). “But we have now arrived at a situation where we cannot take it any longer and from now on we will feel the full brunt of any further dollar weakness,” said the president of the Burgundy wine association.
? Rose sales increase: Which is good news for those of us who enjoy pink wine. Sales increased about 50 percent in 2007, according to a Nielsen study. Why did this happen? A couple of reasons, I think. Consumers are beginning to understand that rose is not the same as white zinfandel, and offers value for money — especially in the $10 range. Also, producers are making better wine, particularly in California.
? Wine sales in a recession? Tom Wark at the Fermentation wine blog may have found a relationship between wine sales and economic downturns. This is something wine people talk about a lot: How much of a luxury product is wine, and will consumers give it up when times get tough? Wark tracked wine club sales, and there seem to be a cancellations that are following the on-coming recession. “I have no doubt that were it being done for the past 15 years we’d see that at this moment that Index will be in a severe downward trend,” he says.
? Blog awards: And while you’re at Fermentation, take a moment to vote for Alfonso Cevola, whose On the Wine Trail in Italy has been nominated for two American Wine Blog awards. Alfonso not only knows more about Italian wine that almost anyone I know, but he is always incredibly kind and generous with his time. Especially when he is dealing with the Wine Curmudgeon, and we know how difficult that can be.