Tag Archives: prosecco

Winebits 507: The “They’re writing about cheap wine” edition

writing about cheap wineThe cyber-ether is writing about cheap wine: $5 wine from Target, 50 affordable wines, and Prosecco’s assault on British teeth

Target’s $5 wine: Navigate your way through the sticky writing (who knew a Sagittarius made the best wine snob?), and you get a decent take on Target’s $5 California Roots wines from the Lifehacker website. Which is about what we’ve been discussing here for the past couple of years – uneven quality, even for $5, and cheap wines that use corks instead of screwcaps. Though why people who write about wine who don’t drink much wine always have to apologize for not drinking much wine makes me crazy. You’re a professional – trust your judgment.

50 sort of cheap wines: The Food & Wine magazine list of “50 affordable wines you can always trust,” courtesy of the always dependable Ray Isle, has made another appearance in the cyber-ether (tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my pal Tim McNally for sending it my way). I’d quibble that $17 isn’t especially affordable, but any list that includes Bogle, Yalumba, the Pine Ridge chenin blanc and viognier blend, and the Banfi Centine is worth taking seriously.

Rotting your teeth? No, this is not a Monty Python bit, but an actual warning from British dentists: Prosecco, the cheap Italian sparkling wine, will rot your teeth. “The popular tipple is causing a rather horrifying dental issue being dubbed ‘prosecco smile.’ ” The Wine Curmudgeon, who drinks a fair amount of Prosecco in the line of duty, hasn’t noticed any change to his teeth, but I will monitor the situation and report back if my smile becomes horrifying.

Winebits 479: Prosecco, wine renaissance, Chinese wine

proseccoThis week’s wine news: A winner in the Prosecco war, plus discussion of a U.S. wine renaissance and Chinese wine

Is the Prosecco war over? The Italian Wine Guy looks at the numbers, and by his reckoning, La Marca Prosecco has won the Italian sparkling wine war. In fact, he writes, it may be on its way to becoming the best-selling sparkling wine of any kind in the U.S. “Never have I seen a category so overtaken and dominated in the market since the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio phenomenon. In fact, the domination is so totally overwhelming that I have tried to advise hopeful producers to bypass the American market. The gates are closed; the wall has already been built.” La Marca, from E&J Gallo, has some 45 percent of the U.S. Prosecco market, and grew 42 percent last year. The post also analyzes how Gallo created the brand to fill a need in the marketplace, and then priced and marketed it successfully.

Wine renaissance? I really want to believe what Matt Brehony writes in this post from The Buzz Bin: “We’re experiencing, what I believe is just the beginning of a renaissance in wine appreciation and consumption throughout the U.S. and beyond.” And he says all the right things about what wine does wrong to hamper its popularity – the foolishness of winespeak, too many cute labels, and so forth. But I’m more doubtful than he is because he doesn’t parse the numbers, the ones that suggest that wine growth in the U.S. has flattened and that the renaissance is a long ways off. Hopefully, I’m wrong, and Brehony sees something that I don’t.

Chinese wine: We’ve heard way too much about the Chinese wine market, Chinese wine, and what Chinese wine drinkers like in the past couple of years, as the wine business falls all over itself to sell wine to the world’s most populous country when they still don’t do a good job of it in this country. Now, British grocer Sainsbury’s is selling Chinese wine – a red blend described as “an elegant expression of Cabernet with an intense, smoky red, packed with blackberries and cassis and a smooth finish.” It sells for £10 (about US$12.50), which given the price and description, sounds like it comes from California’s Paso Robles region. Has the International Style struck again?

Wine of the week: Tiamo Prosecco Extra Dry NV

Tiamo ProseccoCan a sweet Prosecco be enjoyable? Yes, if it’s the Tiamo Prosecco

The Tiamo Prosecco is a sweet wine. There, I said it.

But before you close this page, know that the touch of sweetness is part of the wine, and not added sugar. In this, it’s the way Italian sparkling wine is supposed to be, and one of the reasons that I enjoyed the Tiamo Prosecco ($15, sample, 11%). Balance is all, and especially these days when it can be so difficult to find.

Look for smaller bubbles than in cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, or in Champagne. That’s because Prosecco is made using the charmat method, where the second fermentation that produces the bubbles is done in a tank and not in the bottle. But the Tiamo Prosecco isn’t too light, unlike those Proseccos or other charmat wines where the bubbles fizz about as much as flat Alka-Seltzer.

The sweetness, meanwhile, is offset by citrus and white fruit, as well as a noticeable green apple aroma. Extra dry, in the winespeak that is sparkling wine, means the wine is sweeter than burt, which means dry.

Serve this well chilled, and drink it on its own or with salads or something like roast chicken marinated in rosemary, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. That’s what I did, and the pairing reminded me why they matter when you pay attention.

new year's sparklng wine 2018

New Year’s sparkling wine 2016

New Year's sparkling wineFour New Year’s sparkling wine recommendations that combine value and quality

If you want Champagne recommendations for the New Year, you’ll have to go here. Champagne? We don’t need no stinkin’ Champagne.

In fact, even without the Wine Curmudgeon’s Champagne boycott, the sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France keeps getting more expensive and doesn’t show any real improvement in quality to match the higher prices. And the bargain Champagnes on the market, the ones that cost around $20 or $25? When a $20 wine is touted a bargain, that’s all you need to know.

Hence my sparkling wine 2016 recommendations, which focus on affordability and value.

Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

Camino Calixo Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%): Very lemony dry Spanish bubbly with tight bubbles and crisp finish. Think of it as a softer version of Hall of Fame standby Cristalino. It’s more of a food wine than I expected, so consider this for a New Year’s brunch.

Carpene Malvolti 1868 Extra Dry NV ($16, sample, 11.5%): This Italian Prosecco isn’t as sweet – extra dry means sweeter than brut, which means dry – as some brut Proseccos. Very well done, with lemon fruit and a creaminess you don’t usually find in this price of wine.

Valdo Prosecco Brut NV ($12, sample, 11%): This year’s bottle was more Champagne-like than last year’s, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was firmer, with more structure, less sweet citrus fruit, and an appealing character that said, “This is more than a cheap Prosecco.” Highly recommended.

Gérard Bertrand Brut Rosé Cuvée Thomas Jefferson 2013 ($16, purchased, 12%): This French cremant (a sparkling wine from a region that isn’t Champagne) had tight bubbles and cherry fruit. It’s an intriguing wine, made with chardonnay and pinot noir just like Champagne. I would have preferred less chardonnay, which made it rounder, and more chenin blanc, the third grape in the blend.

More on New Year’s sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2015
New Year’s sparkling wine 2014
New Year’s sparkling wine 2013
Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Rose NV
Wine of the week: Vega Barcelona Seleccion NV

Winebits 470: Wine writing, Prosecco, Italian wine

wine writingThis week’s wine news: Beware of sponsored content, plus big Prosecco numbers and the rules of Italian wine

Not on my site: Want to make money with a wine blog? Use sponsored content. As the blog’s traffic has picked up this year, so have requests to run product copy as a blog post. I turn them down, and not just because of the ethical concerns. Sponsored content confuses readers, and they “sometimes struggle to identify it, have mixed emotions about its being in the same place as regular editorial content, and often feel like publishers must be held to higher standards.” The quote, from a post on Digiday.com, speaks to the issues exactly: Only 41 percent of U.S. readers say they can easily recognize sponsored content, which means a majority of people reading post-modern journalism have trouble telling the difference. So for moral better and financial worse, no sponsored content posing as a blog post here.

Italian bubbles: Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine, sells half as much wine as Champagne does in Europe, which is worth pondering given Champagne’s reputation and cachet. Shouldn’t the latter’s margin be bigger? But more interesting: Prosecco sold 25 percent more liters on the continent than Champagne did for the 12 months ending in September. Plus, Prosecco sales increased 24 percent in value and 23 in volume, while Champagne was mostly flat by both measures. The reasons are obvious: price, price, and price, since Prosecco can cost as little as one-third as much as Champagne.

Thou shalt pay attention: The Italian Wine Guy celebrates the holidays with a look at the 10 commandments that should apply to Italian wine (complete with pictures of Charlton Heston, for those of us of a certain age). It’s a funny post, but more importantly  reminds us of the reasons why great Italian wine is so great. Which is, of course, that it is Italian, and not anything else, My favorite, from the second commandment: “No Chardonnay pretending to be French, or worse, from the Russian River Valley. If it must be white, it must be true and pure as milk and honey.”

Porch wine for the long, hot summer

porch wineHas the hot weather made you as cranky as the WC tasting 15 percent chardonnay? Then take a long, cool sip of the porch wine post.

We haven’t hit 100 in Dallas yet, but 99 for the last week or so is close enough. And, from what I hear from my pals in the rest of the country, it’s too damn hot where they are. Which means it’s time for a porch wine post – focusing on lighter wines, red and white, that are lower in alcohol and that offer relief from the heat. The idea with a porch wine is to drink something that won’t make the sweat bead on your forehead.

These four wines are excellent examples of the type, and should give you an idea about what to look for:

Nik. Weis Urban Riesling 2015 ($15, sample, 9%): Well-made German riesling is difficult to find in Dallas, which makes no sense given how warm-weather friendly the wine is. The Weis is made in a more modern style, with fresher apricot fruit instead of dried and brighter acidity, but it’s also layered with the traditional honey notes. Nicely done, and will even age a little.

El Coto Rosado 2015 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): The El Coto is is one of my favorite Spanish roses, and if it’s not quite as well done as the Muga, it’s still delicious and a tremendous value. Look for strawberry fruit, plus a little earthiness and even orange peel from the tempranillo that’s in the blend.

Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): This Italian sparkler reminded me why I love wine. I much prefer cava to Prosecco, so it’s always a pleasure to find a Prosecco worth writing about – not too sweet, firm bubbles, surprisingly balanced, and more apple and pear fruit than most others. Highly recommended.

Drouhin Domaine des Hospices de Belleville Fleurie 2014 ($25, sample, 13%): Top-notch red from the French region of Beaujolais that has nothing in common with most of the plonk made there these days. Firm but not overbearing, with red fruit and soft tannins, and something you can drink on its own or with food. The only drawback is the cost, but given how expensive this quality of French wine has become, it’s not overpriced.

More about porch wine:
Wine terms: Porch wine
Wine when the air conditioning is broken
Wine of the week: Angels & Cowboys rose 2015
Wine of the week: Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2014

Winebits 444: Prosecco, direct to consumer, Barnes & Noble

ProseccoPremiumizing Prosecco: These days, it’s not enough to increase sales of a product eight-fold. You have to trade consumers up, even if that means you’ll sell less of the product. That’s the situation with Prosecco, the Italian sparklng wine, reports the Shanken News Daily website. Sales have passed 4 million cases, almost exceeding Champagne. But that’s not good enough, say marketers, since Prosecco rarely costs more than $15 – just a fraction of what Champagne costs. So the push over the next several years will be to convince consumers to buy higher-priced Prosecco, even though the reason for its growth and popularity is that it can cost one-third less than Champagne.

Take that, Michigan: Remember the good news about three-tier last week? Not so fast, says the state of Michigan. The liquor cops there, who still seem to have a chip on their shoulder from losing the landmark Granholm case in the Supreme Court in 2005, are cracking down on wineries who ship to consumers in the state. ShipCompliant, which helps producers navigate the various local liquor laws, reports that wineries who don’t list their special Michigan license number on the packing label are being cited. If this seems nitpicky, but it’s all part of the fun that is 50 laws for 50 states.

Bring on the booze: What do you do if you’re a struggling national bookstore chain? Sell beer and wine, of course. Barnes & Noble will add alcohol to stores in Virginia, California, New York, and Minnesota this year in an attempt to boost long-depressed sales. Ironically, Barnes & Noble is suffering at the same time that independent bookstores are enjoying a revival; what does it mean that independents who don’t sell wine are doing better? Hmm. Customer service, perhaps?