Tag Archives: arsenic lawsuit

Ask the WC 11: Arsenic lawsuit, marijuana, wine competitions

arsenic lawsuitBecause the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. Ask the Wine Curmudgeon wine-related question by clicking here. This time: Whatever happened to the arsenic lawsuit?

Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
Whatever happened to that arsenic thing, where all the cheap you recommend was going to kill us because it was full of arsenic?
Drinking expensive wine to be safe

Dear Expensive:
The lawsuit you refer to faded away. First, arsenic occurs naturally in many food products, so what was found in wine – cheap or expensive – was there in tiny, tiny amounts. Second, a California state judge dismissed the lawsuit that had been filed against two dozen California wineries, saying that the warning label on wine bottles was sufficient to protect consumers. So you can go back to cheap wine and save yourself some serious money.

Hi, WC:
You write that legal marijuana could pose a serious challenge to wine consumption in the U.S. Why do you think that? One high is as good as another, isn’t it?
High on life

Dear High:
Most wine drinkers, according to the statistics and the experts, drink wine instead of something else. It’s the same for beer and spirits drinkers, too. Most of us pick one kind of alcohol and stick with it. The fear is that, if legal dope becomes widespread, wine drinkers will opt for pot. This makes sense if only from a pricing model. Legal grass isn’t cheap – more than $200 an ounce in Colorado; if you’re spending that much money on weed, why would you need (or want) to spend anything else on wine?

Hello, Wine Curmudgeon:
You’re always writing about judging wine competitions. Why does that matter to those of us who read your blog? Why should I care about awards?
Confused in Connecticut

Dear Confused:
That’s the question that the wine competition business has been asking itself for the past couple of years. Are competitions relevant? Do ordinary wine drinkers pay attention to the results? The best competitions have renewed their efforts so that the first is true and you can learn something from the results. A gold medal wine, particularly if it costs less than $15, should be a tremendous value and well worth buying. I’d look at the list of judges, which most competitions post on their websites. If the judges seem to know what they’re doing, you should be in good hands.

More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
Ask the WC 10: Spanish wine, wine prices, oak
Ask the WC 9: Premiumization, wine bottles, Chicago Cubs
Ask the WC 8: Restaurant wine, storing wine, sparkling wine

Winebits 431: Arsenic, private label, craft beer

arsenicNot in my legal system: A California state judge has dismissed the infamous arsenic lawsuit filed against two dozen California wineries, apparently on a technicality related to the warning labels that most wine bottles have. Needless to say, the plaintiffs were not happy and vowed to appeal. contained illegal and toxic levels of arsenic. My favorite part of the story? This line: “… budget wines produced by more than two dozen California wineries contained illegal and toxic levels of arsenic.” Because, of course, we have to distinguish between the cheap wines in the lawsuit to protect the real wines produced in California — the non-budget wines — from guilt by association.

No more private label: Talk to retailers, producers, and distributors, and a great many are wary of private label wines — those sold only in one retailer, like Trader Joe’s Two-buck Chuck. In public, though, a discouraging word is rarely heard. Why is that? British wine writer Jamie Goode explains: “Private label is bad for the consumer, because most of the time they end up paying rather too much for a pretty mediocre wine.” Goode’s post is one of the best explanations about how private label works, why it’s so popular, and why wine drinkers don’t have any idea what’s gong on. It’s the sort of wine writing we don’t see enough on this side of the Atlantic.

Wine in the rearview mirror:  Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight reports (according to research firm bw166.com and published in Wines in Vines), that 2015 U.S. wine sales totaled $38 billion. “Since California Wine Institute data estimates that California represents 65 percent of U.S. dollar sales, that means $24.6 billion in 2015 U.S. wines sales came from California.” He estimates, given craft beer’s 16 percent growth rate, compared to three percent for wine, that craft beer sales in the U.S. could overtake the entire California wine industry by the end of this year: $25.8 billion vs. $25.3 billion. But talk to people in the wine business, and they’ll tell you that everything is OK, mostly because of premiumization. And I make millions of dollars a year from the blog.