Tag Archives: Blake Gray

Winebits 418: Cheap wine, Caribbean wine, wine labels

cheap wine ? Why would you buy that? Blake Gray looks at the provenance of a handful of grocery store sale wines, using the federal government’s handy and epic “who made this wine?” website (which isn’t what it’s called, but should be). Not surprisingly, most of the wines are made by companies that make cheap wine under a variety of different names, and only three of the nine sale wines are made by companies that were upfront about who was making it. The rest, as noted here many times, are made to sound good on the label, usually by a bulk producer who does a lot of this sort of thing. Blake, as always, wonders why no one complains about the poor quality of the wine, overlooking the fact that most consumers don’t think it’s poor quality. For that, we can thank the wine business for all the time and effort it puts into wine education.

? Even in the islands: This is taking local wine where even the Wine Curmudgeon didn’t think it would go — grape wine from the Caribbean, from a coastal region in the Dominican Republic and made with one of my favorite grapes, colombard. The verdict on the white Ocoa (part of a $24 million resort development)? “It ?s got an aroma of citrus, tropical fruit and oak, with a flavor profile of mango, dried fruit and citrus… wine with a good, crisp finish. If you didn ?t know, you ?d never guess this was a wine from outside the world ?s traditional winemaking spots. And it ?s actually quite good, perfect for a hot day on the beach in the Dominican Republic.”

? Tart up that label: Nielsen, the consumer research organization, discusses why wine label design is so important in selling wine. Some of it is obvious, but there is also the sense that there are too many wines — 4,200 new ones in 2014, about 12.5 percent of the market — and that consumers “are making most of their decisions at shelf. Relative to other major consumer categories, wine is a fragmented category with lower brand loyalty and more decisions being made at point of purchase.”

Winebits 416: Wine retailing edition

wine retailingSome intriguing news about how wine retailing works just in time for the holiday shopping season.

? Best places to buy wine: W. Blake Gray ranks the nine best places to buy wine, and it’s not surprising that his top pick is the independent where someone waits on you. More important, though, is that he speaks rare truths about a couple of respected retailers: At No. 4, “You won’t find bargains at Whole Foods, but over $25 you will find interesting wines” and No. 8, where “there’s a widespread myth that Trader Joe’s wines are great values. Actually they are just cheaply sourced wines: an $8 wine there has the same markup as an $8 wine at ay other store, but most other stores put more effort into quality control.” That’s the kind of honest wine writing I wish we had more of on the Internet — and in print, as well.

? Because points matter: Australian wine writer Philip White details the sad and not exactly honest relationship between wine scores, wine writing, and wine retailing. “Put very simply, whether it ?s the wine shows or the shiny mags or books, the system of scoring wines has not done much to improve the average quality of the wines made in Australia. Rather, the scores are awarded according to fad, fashion and what needs to be sold, usually as dictated to the judging teams by their chair.” In other words, the only way retailers, producers, and wine media is with high scores, which don’t necessarily benefit consumers or the quality of the wine. Wonder if White is the down under version of the WC?

? Don’t forget the wine: How powerful is Costco (which ranks No. 5 on Gray’s list?) So powerful that one stock expert called the warehouse company, the largest retailer of wine in the world, “Amazon proof.” There is no higher praise for a retailer these days, given how Amazon has helped destroy entire categories of traditional retailing. But “Costco has been able to incentivize in-store visits by offering items that members need or prefer to buy in person ? namely, gasoline and food.” And, of course, wine, which the story doesn’t mention but which has played a key role in the retailer’s continued success.