Tag Archives: tequila

Winebits 671: Wine descriptors, expensive booze, Gallo deal

wine descriptors
“What do you mean, they’re tired of toasty and oak?”

This week’s wine news: Are consumers tired of wine descriptors? Plus, posh tequila and the Gallo-Constellation cheap wine deal nears completion — sort of

What? Cigar box aromas don’t matter? Wine descriptors, those corny, often pretentious adjectives to describe wine, may be becoming less important. The cause? The pandemic, reports Britain’s Wine Intelligence consultancy. Consumers are buying more wine on-line and in supermarkets, so descriptors matter less. That’s because we have less time — or no time at all — to read the back label, where toasty and oaky make their appearance. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the study applies only to the United Kingdom, but we can have hope, yes?

Bring on the rich guys: Is spending $1,450 for bottle of wine not enough for you? Then How about a $250 tequila? That’s Elon Musk’s new product, called — not surprisingly — Tesla Tequila, after his car company. It’s already sold out, of course, since those are the times we live in. My favorite part of the product? The descriptors, of course: “dry fruit and light vanilla nose with a balanced cinnamon pepper finish.” And the bottle is shaped like a lightning bolt, which could present problems if you drink too much at one time.

Gallo-Constellation deal: The end is in sight for the $1.1 billion deal, in which Constellation Brands is selling most of its cheap wine labels to E&J Gallo. Originally, Constellation wanted $3 billion, but that never happened. The two-year sale has had a troubled history, which includes federal government  anti-trust concerns. Constellation expects it to finally end sometime next year. That will allow the company to spend more time on its ber and legal weed businesses.

Gary Shansby and the dilemma of wine education

Gary Shansby tells the story with an almost wistful air. A good friend of his, who is smart and wealthy, will only drink Grey Goose vodka. Gary, who owns Partida Tequila, offered to buy his friend a Partida. No thanks, says the friend. I only drink Grey Goose. Can I buy you another kind of vodka? asks Gary. No thanks, says the friend. I only drink Grey Goose.

Why do you only drink Grey Goose? asks Gary. Because it's the best, says his friend. How do you know that? asks Gary. Have you tried any other vodka? No, says the friend. Have you tried my tequila? No, says the friend. Then how do you know that you don't want to try anything else? Because I don't, says the friend. I just know.

Shansby finishes the story and I laugh. He has outlined, neatly, the dilemma facing those of us who do wine education. Yes, this story is about tequila and spirits, and I usually don't do much of that here. But Shansby is also a wine drinker who knows how the business works, and Partida makes some damn fine tequila. I was especially impressed with the blanco (about $45, sample), which had almost nothing to do with the cheap, poorly made tequila that one sees around Dallas.

Besides, the principle is the same, whether we're talking about tequila or pinot noir. It's not enough that wine is confusing. We also have to fight the prejudices that consumers pick up, many of which are fostered on consumers by the companies that sell wine.

"There are so many great wines all over the world — from Chile, from parts of the U.S. — that it's just so confusing to the consumer," says Shansby. "But that also means that they are so many great wines to try at so many attractive prices."

In fact, he says, those attractive prices are going to be around for a while. The recession is the main reason (and he expects its effects to be with us for a long while), which is something we've discussed here many times before. Producers are stuck with unsold wine, with more wine in the production pipeline, so they are cutting prices to move it. Shansby says it won't be unusual to see discounts of 20 to 40 percent. So why not take a chance and experiment? Why not try a wine from a different region than your usual? Why not try a different varietal?

Just don't, says Shansby, let your prejudices make your decisions for you. And who can argue with that.