Let me at that Taco Bell frose.
This week’s wine news: Taco Bell will add a rose-flavored slushy, plus New Orleans goes for a wine competition, and this year’s California grape harvest this year may be a record
• Bring on the rose: Taco Bell customers in Chicago and Southern California will be able to buy frosé, a wine-infused slushy drink, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The two ounces of rose for the 16-ounce drink, made with a “berry-blend ‘Freeze’ base,” comes from Washington state’s Charles & Charles – whose rose is among the best in the world. And no, I can’t wrap my head around that at all. The frose will cost about $8 in California and $6 in Chicago, and will only be sold in the chain’s more upscale Cantina stores. Still, if the frose works, a Taco Bell official says it will be sold in all dozen or so of the Cantinas.
• New Orleans wine competition: Only in New Orleans – a wine competition combined with a consumer wine tasting at some of the best restaurants in the world, including Crescent City legends Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s on Royal Street, and Galatoire’s. In this, the competition is trying to add value for the wineries that enter, something that has become an essential for 21st wine judging. The list of judges is also impressive (even if it includes me). The first New Orleans International Wine Competition is set Nov. 6-8.
• Record grape crop: Early indications are that the 2018 California grape harvest could be the biggest ever, at 4.5 million tons. That’s about one-half million tons more than normal the past couple of years and a substantial increase, reports an industry trade group. This is good news for consumers worried about wine price increases; given that amount, we’ll have plenty of grapes to hold the price down. The only increases should come on the higher end and for wines invented to sell at $15 and more.
This week’s wine news: The second biggest California grape crush ever, plus a company knocks off wine like cheap dresses and a dumb health study
• Bumper crop: The 2016 California grape harvest, which will pretty much determine wine prices for the next couple of years, was up 15 percent from 2015 as measured in the amount of grapes crushed – the second biggest in history at 4.031 million tons. And while the price of crushed grapes was 15 percent higher this year than last, all that meant was that it mostly reached 2012 prices. What will the state’s producers do with all those grapes? Look for new labels, lots and lots of red blends (the red crush was the biggest ever), and more confusion for the consumer. And even I’m wondering what’s going on with premiumization, since 17 percent of the crush came from three grapes used in cheap bulk wines – rubired, French colombard, and muscat of Alexandria. That’s more than the amount of either the cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay crush.
• Just the same: I will report the following, from Peg Melnick at the Press-Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, Calif., and try to keep my editorial comments to a minimum, though if you hear a scream as you read, it’s probably the echo from my wail of anguish: “The brand is called Replica Wine, and it relies heavily on chemistry to replicate popular brands, offering customers a savings of 15 percent or more. For example, it tempts consumers with a bottling it likens to the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay for $11, undercutting KJ’s $17 price.” Is that what the wine business is reduced to? Knocking off wine like it was a bad Hollywood movie or a cheap dress? Is it not enough anymore to make honest, quality wine?
• One more stupid health story: The Wine Curmudgeon banned wine and health stories from the blog in 2009, after a study was published noting that women who get drunk are more likely to have sex. Periodically, I will run a health story to remind everyone why they are banned – in this case, that wine drinking can lead to a happy marriage. The exception, as difficult as it is to believe, is if one partner drinks and the other doesn’t. And, shockingly, you can have a happy marriage if neither partner drinks. What’s next? That happy marriages are more likely if both partners love each other?
Yes, quite possibly the weirdest headline ever on the blog.
? A benefit for a good cause: Let it not be said that the Wine Curmudgeon won ?t do a favor for a good cause.The Wildlife Conservation Society is hosting its first Sip For The Sea benefit in Manhattan on Sept. 12 to support the New York Aquarium as it recovers from Superstorm Sandy. The event features sustainable food and wine, and ticket information is at the link.
? Bubby in Brazil: And it ?s damned good, writes Chuck Byers on the Canadian MetroLand Media website. A ?number of ?houses ? produce first class sparkling wine, ? he says. ?Casa Valduga, Aurora, Salton, Garibaldi, Don Giovanni among others, produce some of the nicest traditional sparkling wines tasted anywhere. ? This is especially interesting in the U.S. because what little experience we have with Brazilian wine was Marcus James white zinfandel, popular during the height of the white zinfandel craze in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
? Yes, grapes in California are a big deal: How about the second most important agricultural crop in the state, according to figures from the federal agriculture department? The value of the 2012 grape crop was almost $4.5 billion, second only to milk. It rose percent from 2011, the second highest increase in the state. Wine grapes account for about 90 percent of the tonnage, which points to how crucial the wine business is to California ?s economy. Given that those figures are something that even those of us who follow the industry take for granted, you can imagine how little the rest of the world ? including politicians who make three-tier and liquor law decision ? know about it.