This week’s wine news: Is the plastic PET bottle the future of wine? Plus, Coronavirus wine humor and Utah may let residents bring wine into the state legally
• Is plastic the future? One analyst, noting that most wine produced today is made in bulk and to drink immediately, says recycled PET is “a realistic alternative” to glass bottles. Emilie Steckenborn, writing for the Beverage Daily website, says the plastic bottles are much better than the traditional glass bottle – lighter, more cost effective to ship and store, and infinitely more environmentally friendly. In this, the piece is surprisingly frank about the inefficiencies of the traditional bottle, and she sounds more like a certain curmudgeon than a member of the Winestream Media.
• Coronavirus wine? Let me apologize for this item first, but I couldn’t resist: A Dallas wine shop says it has “Coronavirus vaccine sold here: bubbly, white, red available.” As the article notes, it’s a refreshing change from the toilet paper hording stories that are dominating the news and even – dare we say – a reason to smile? Also, please note the difference between this and the hucksters and scam artists flooding the market with fake cures and testing kits.
• Finally, Utah? Regular visitors here know the WC enjoys poking fun at Utah, whose liquor laws are some of the most restrictive – and silliest – in the country. Well, there may be one less reason to poke fun: the state is about to let the state’s residents join wine clubs and bring wine in from another state without committing a crime. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the bill just needs the governor’s signature. Fortunately, the new law is very Utah – no home delivery for wine club members, who would have to pick the wine up at a liquor store and pay the state’s 88 percent markup in addition to the cost of the wine.
This week’s wine news: Utah, despite some of the strictest anti-drinking laws in the country, sees more booze consumption, plus craft beer and shelter dogs and flavored wine
• Only in Utah: Mormon-dominated Utah has some of the strictest anti-drinking laws in the country, something we’ve noted many times before. So why do alcohhol sales keep increasing every year, up three percent per capita from 2106 to 2017? State officials say its because of more residents from out of state plus thriving tourism. Which, of course, overlooks all those anti-drinking laws, including the most stringent DWI regulations in the U.S. It demonstrates a point that we’ve been making on the blog for years, that anti-drinking laws don’t slow consumption. Education does, but hardly anyone wants to invest in that. It’s easier to get tough.
• Craft pooches? Who knew that we would one day take our pets to a do-themed bar? But that’s what happened in suburban Portland this week, when Fido’s Taphouse opened. Its owners say Fido’s is the first of its kind: “Fido’s blends foster housing for shelter dogs with a craft beer tap room. Patrons will be able to drink craft beer and play with shelter dogs, with the goal of rehoming these dogs to loving owners.” It’s an odd approach (even allowing for the PR person who used “rehoming,” which is not a word). I’m more concerned, as someone who has owned dogs his entire life, about people who drink beer while contemplating adoption. Hard to make a rational decision, isn’t it?
• Flavored wine? No, apparently not, reports Flavorman, the Beverage Architects (and no, I am not making this up). The Louisville, Ky., company says “Maple, the sweet sign of spring and uniquely North American ingredient, is the top trending flavor for the upcoming year. It is famous for its complex sweetness and unmatched flavor. More recently, it is front and center for its role as an alternative sweetener and extensive list health and nutritional benefits.” The bad news for wine drinkers? Sadly, there will not be any maple flavored wine – only “Matcha Tea, international coffee blends, botanical-heavy beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and in craft beverages including sodas, beer and spirits.” How will we ever survive?
This week’s wine news is all about the three-tier system – a well-written story about how it works, plus updates on marijuana and Utah.
• “It’s impossible to taste 645 wines:” Jeremy Baker of Food52, a self-described “amateur wine lover,” writes about his adventure in the three-tier system, and he spends a lot of time down the rabbit hole. Baker interviews a wine shop owner, who explains what it’s like to taste hundreds of wines a week to decide what to carry, and gets to visit a trade tasting where 645 wines are being shown. “The tasting list is in actuality a 166-page book,” he writes, and his amazement goes on from there. That Baker can actually begin to imagine the difficulties that the system imposes on retailers is the strength of the story. My only regret is that he doesn’t assess the system and decide if it’s time is past. Otherwise, highly recommended reading.
• Don’t trust the wholesalers: Tom Wark, whose crusade against the three-tier system makes my opinions seem like a child’s musings, has a warning for the marijuana business: “Whatever you do, don’t allow America’s alcohol wholesalers anywhere near your growing and soon-to-be-legal industry.” Wark’s post explains why he doesn’t want the legal weed business to be dominated by the distributor-based system that controls the wine supply chain. My favorite part? Where he quotes a distributor trade group, which says legal marijuana needs three-tier to prevent illegal sales. Which, of course, sounds like an argument only Dave would understand.
• Only in Utah: Regular visitors know how much the WC appreciates Utah’s Kafka-esque interpretation of three-tier, and this is yet another example. Under a new tasting law, liquor producers must have a “distinct area for consumption” so that tastings are “outside the view of minors” who may be at the winery. In other words, wineries can only do tastings in a back room out of sight of any children who may be at the winery. Which presupposes that kids are flocking to wineries and craft beer and spirits producers to watch adults sample the product. Could be worse, though: What happens when the Utah legislature finds out kids might be watching their parents drink at home?