This week’s wine news: Aldi will expand its wine selection, plus the wine business continues to bifurcate and $80 student wine.
• More cheap wine: Aldi, the German discount grocer whose cheap wine often shows up on these pages, will spend $1.6 billion to renovate its 1.300 U.S. stores. Part of the renovation, reports Blomberg News, will be upgraded wine sections, “housed in fancier wood fixtures with spotlights.” This is good news for those of us who care about quality cheap wine – Aidi’s wine is one reason why it has become the fifth biggest supermarket chain in Britain. It’s also worth noting that Aldi and its arch-rival Lidl, which will debut in the U.S. next year and also does great cheap wine, have almost 11 percent of the U.K. grocery store market. The losers in the two retailers’ growth were Britain’s biggest chains, the counterparts to Kroger and Albertson’s in this country.
• Two wine markets: We’ve talked here many times about the divide in the wine market, between the premiumized high end and the wine that most of us drink. Tom Wark at the Fermentation blog offers insight on this subject: “It is becoming abundantly clear that there exist today in the United States two very distinct and separately operating wine industries. One, the larger of the two, is dedicated to selling relatively inexpensive wine to the masses. The other is dedicated to selling relatively expensive wine to a smaller group of wine lovers. What’s interesting about these two separate industries is that there is less and less for their members to talk to each other about.” Wark’s other point? That no one in the wine business seems especially bothered by this, and is perfectly content to let it happen. No wonder I’m so cranky so much of the time.
• For a student wine? How about $80 for a wine made by students at the University of California-Davis, perhaps the best wine school at the world. That’s because most of the grapes come from a top-flight parcel of land in Napa Valley, and it’s priced competitively with similar Napa wines. A school official said the goal is to sell a small production of the student wine with a UC-Davis label, and that “It would be very high quality wine that would be up to UC Davis standards. [The wine] would be something students, alumni, faculty and staff could be proud of.”