Tag Archives: Blue Apron wine

Blue Apron wine: Disappointing and depressing

blue apron wineThis was going to be a glowing post about the wine program at Blue Apron, the home delivery service that supplies recipes and ingredients for home cooks who want to try something more adventurous than Wednesday night meatloaf. When Blue Apron wine debuted last fall, giving its customers the opportunity to buy wine paired for its recipes, I thought: “Finally. Someone in the food business understands wine.”

Which turned out to be as far from the truth as possible. The six Blue Apron wines that I tasted (all samples) were poorly made, rarely varietally correct, mostly old and worn out, and apparently came from a bulk house whose website seems more excited about label design than wine quality. Adding to the aggravation: I emailed Blue Apron requesting an interview in October, and was told to submit my questions in writing because its executives didn’t do interviews. I’m still waiting for the answers to my questions; maybe they didn’t want to tell me what I found out by tasting the wine (and I hope that the conscientious PR woman who sent the samples doesn’t get fired, because none of this is her fault).

How depressing was my Blue Apron wine experience? The best tasting wine was a South African pinotage, and one rarely gets to say that about pinotage. Besides, if you’re trying to teach foodies about wine, why would you send them pinotage, a grape that is difficult to make into quality wine and isn’t widely available? The pinot noir, labeled Hilliard Bruce but vinted and bottled at the bulk company, was bland and faded. A Lodi vermentino tasted as much like the Italian grape as a crayon does, and a California sauvignon blanc was green, stemmy, and bitter with almost no sauvignon blanc fruit. The less said about the Spanish monastrell and California chardonnay the better.

In the end, the Blue Apron wine was no better than the wine club plonk I tasted last fall. If Blue Apron treated its food the way it treats its wine, it would not be a $2 billion company and startup darling.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that Blue Apron wine has nothing to do with wine and everything with what marketers call adding value to the product. For an extra $65.99 a month, they’ll send you six “incredible” bottles that will “complement your upcoming Blue Apron meals.” In this, the company is giving its customers something they wouldn’t or couldn’t do on their own. If most Blue Apron customers subscribe because they love food and cooking, they’re less likely to know what incredible tastes like or how wine complements a meal. So six bottles (even 500-ml ones, about two-thirds of normal) for $10 each? Sign me up.

Which means Blue Apron wine is about selling Blue Apron and very little about teaching anyone about wine. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I really wanted to believe Blue Apron wine was the real thing. Even a curmudgeon has hopes.

Finally, to anyone who has subscribed to Blue Apron wine and wonders if all wine tastes like this, no, it doesn’t. The next time you want to pair your Blue Apron Lebanese Arayes (filled pitas), buy a $10 Bogle sauvingon blanc instead of the recommended Blue Apron sauvignon blanc. The Bogle tastes like real wine, and you get an extra couple of glasses for the same price.

Winebits 407: Blue Apron wine, arsenic, airline wine

blue apron wine ? The future of wine? Blue Apron, the home food delivery service, has added wine to what it does. This means that when the company sends you the recipe and ingredients for dinner, it will (for an additional charge) send wine to complement the meal. This is revolutionary, and could be the beginning of a change in the way Americans see wine — something several of my wine writing colleagues are hoping for, and have taken me to task for criticizing. Why so? Because Blue Apron sees an opportunity, despite the regulatory hurdles, to sell wine to food people, which has always been one of the sticking points in making wine more mainstream. Food people generally care more about kale — or whatever is au courant — than they do about wine, and if we can get them to see wine as part of the meal, we’ve made huge progress. I know someone using Blue Apron, and will report back after she does it for a while to see if we’re on to something here.

? Wine in arsenic: The wine and arsenic lawsuit has not gone away, reports Wines & Vines magazine, and the plaintiffs have “tweaked [it] to seek billions of dollars in civil penalties, among other damages.” They are using a California state law designed to protect consumers from what the magazine calls noxious substances, and the amended lawsuit days that “just a glass or two of these arsenic-contaminated wines a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity to the consumer. …” Also worth nothing, and something I haven’t seen before: That most of the wines that the Denver lab tested that were the focus of the lawsuit “suggest that most wines meet the standard for drinking water, and all of the wines fell below 50 parts per billion, as did the beers that were the focus of similar concern in 2013.” Most international standards for arsenic start at 100 parts per billion. Was this, then, as many suspected, nothing more than ambulance chasing?

? Flying the wine skies: Every year, there are rankings of the best airline wine, which somehow don’t include the little bottles that we all know and don’t get excited about. Instead, the rankings are for first- and business-class wine lists on airlines that most of us don’t fly. This year’s rankings feature Singapore and Emirates, which never seem to show up when I have to go to Denver to judge. So read it, marvel at the wines, and then stick your knees up under your chin because the slob in the row in front of you has pushed his seat all the way back, and the last thing you want is wine.