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.
? Only 40 years? The 40th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris, when California wines bested their French counterparts in a taste-off that established the former as world class, comes next year, and plans are being made to celebrate it (though, apparently, only in the U.S.). How about a congressional lunch next spring with wine from all 50 states, including two of the California wines that won? Or a vertical tasting with some of the winning wines. It’s almost impossible to underestimate how important the Judgment of Paris was in helping California wine take its place as some of the greatest in the world, and it’s no coincidence that so many of the French critics who took part still refuse to accept the results.
? Not enough education: A Chilean wine expert who thought the world needed more wine education is surprised at how much he underestimated the market for his business. Raul Diaz told the drinks business trade magazine that “there is increasing demand for training that strikes a balance between being informative without being too intimidating or ‘know it all.’ ” Sound familiar? One of the moatr frustrating things about the wine business’ lack of interest in education is that not only ignore how much moe wine it would help them sell, but that they could make money with it. But, as I always note, I’m a lousy businessman.
? Italy back on top: World wine production estimates for 2015 are in, and the Italians have regained their place as the top wine producing country in the world, replacing the Spanish, who were tops in 2014 after a record harvest. France was second and the U.S. fourth, as the experts think world production will increas two percent this year. That’s an impressive number given declining consumption in Europe, the drought in California, and financial woes in Australia.