Tag Archives: Skinnygirl

Diet wine, and why we’re stuck with it

One of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s regular rants is how old-fashioned, unsophisticated, and wrong-headed most wine marketing is. This is the industry, after all, that still sees wine drinking as the province of middle-aged white men.

Innovation? Nope. Education? Nope? Mostly, just cute labels and names, the same thing that has been going on for the past 20 years. The ?Let ?s appeal to women with a wine called Little Black Dress ? approach is what passes for genius around here.

That ?s one of the many reasons why diet wine ? wine made not to taste good, but to have fewer calories ? is so depressing. It ?s a 40-year-old concept that wine is embracing because it doesn ?t have any better ideas.

The irony is that the current version of diet wine is an accident (because, of course, there was a version 40 years ago). Beam Global, which makes Skinnygirl, was getting out of the wine business when it acquired the brand. Originally, Skinnygirl was cocktails only, but someone at Beam figured it made sense to do a wine version (called a line extension in the trade) and we ended up with diet wine.

Since then, diet wine is all over the place, and the trade press is full of articles about hundreds of thousands of cases being sold here and hundreds of thousands of cases being sold there. Its growth has been facilitated by consolidation and the growth of the biggest producers; as I wrote last year, the big wine companies are ?so good at the [marketing] ? as good, in some ways, as marketing giants like McDonald ?s and Procter & Gamble ? that it almost doesn ?t matter what ?s in the bottle. ?

Which is what diet wine is about. Because, actually, there ?s no need for it. Want to consume fewer calories when drinking wine? Drink less wine, hardly a revolutionary concept. I wrote a story in 2004, during the height of the low-carb craze, and I quoted a dietitian who said the whole thing was foolish and would soon go away. Her take: What was the point of low-carb beer and low-carb pizza, other than as a marketing gimmick?

Which is what we have here. It ?s not a coincidence that the beer business long ago moved on from diet beer in search of something better, and discovered craft beer in the process. Or that flavor has always been part of beer ?s approach to marketing diet products ? how many of us who grew up in the 1970s still remember the Miller Lite slogan: ?Great taste.. less filling

The wine business can ?t even do that. Diet wine is sold almost entirely on the calorie angle; so much so that two brands are endorsed by Weight Watchers. And wine still views its version of craft beer ? regional wine ? as beneath it, or as high-priced cult wines that most of us aren ?t good enough to drink.

The good news is that diet wine hasn ?t been as successful as diet cocktails. Maybe, like low-carb pizza, it will fade away sooner rather than later.

Boony Doon and Skinnygirl, the strangest of wine bedfellows

bonny doon
There they were, one of the most interesting and honest wines in the world sitting next to one of the most manipulated and most cynical.

What kind of cosmic imbalance caused this? How did the trickster of the gods manipulate the retailer's inventory software. Ad think of the embarrassed sidewise glances.

How could Randall Grahm ?s Bonny Doon Vin de Gris rose ? ?one of his best roses ? austere and fresh and dark, ? as I wrote last year  — end up next to Skinnygirl ?s pink wine, made not to taste like wine but to contain 100 calories and which Elin McCoy said is ?barely acceptable chilled plastic cup party fare?"

Grahm makes wine that tastes like wine. The Skinnygirl, to quote from its producer, Beam, Inc., is a ?brand that continues to blaze new trails and is solutions-driven. ?

Guess who sells more wine? Is it any wonder the wine business makes me so cranky?

Winebits 218: Bonny Doon, Skinnygirl, wine tastings

? Whither the family-owned winery? Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm takes to his award-winning blog to ponder the future of the family winery, and more specifically his winery. Those of us who care about these things should be especially concerned when Grahm writes that his bank is not pleased with Bonny Doon's finances. The post is quite long, but worth reading — not only for the insight it offers into the modern wine business (something Grahm touched on when we had lunch last fall), but for the usual Grahm wit (as a kid, he sold first-aid kits door to door) and footnotes. Yes, he puts footnotes in blog posts. And there are people who think the Wine Curmudgeon is odd.

? Bring on the Skinnygirl wine: Beam Estates, which owns a bunch of wine brands but is better known for spirits, is going to launch Skinnygirl, a line of reduced calorie wine similar to its Skinnygirl cocktails. The story in the Wine Spectator reports that the brand is aiming for 100 calories for a 5-ounce glass, which is about 25 less than it would normally have. Maybe they'll take the flavor out. The Wine Curmudgeon, oddly enough, has a passing knowledge of Skinnygirl cocktails. I was trying to convince a Dallas retailer to sponsor a local wine event last year, and he said what his chain really wanted was something like the Skinnygirl, former reality show star Bethenny Frankel, to make an appearance at one of his stores. Could we do something like that?

? Georgia legislature, always on the job: Georgia legislators have decided that wine tastings at retailers that sell spirits — as opposed to retailers that just sell wine — is not a good thing. The story, from Georgia Public Broadcasting, notes that package stores would face horrendous insurance problems if allowed to do wine tastings. Which, of course, does not seem to be a problem in other states that allow wine tastings in package stores, including that well-known bastion of sensible liquor laws and erudite legislators, Texas (where I live). Still, as excuses go, it is quite original and almost as good as the one that the beer business gives when it lobbies to restrict Internet wine sales: Teenagers will buy wine online and lie about their age!