This week’s wine news: Who needs wine when there are pet cocktails? Plus a best cheap wine list and another wine vending machine plan
• Belly up to the bar: One more challenge for a wine business already under fire – Pet Winery, which offers mock-adult beverages for cats and dogs, reports Supermarket News. The drinks, such as the Cat-Tini, Purrgundy “wine,” and Barkbrew Ale for dogs, come in bottles shaped like the corresponding human beverages. And the prices are certainly premiumized – an eight-ounce bottle of the dog “beer” is $11.50; a five-ounce bottle of Purrgundy is $9.99; and the eight-ounce Cat-Tini is $14.95.
• 100 wines under $15: The Wine Enthusiast has released its annual list of the top 100 wines costing $15 or less, and two of the biggest surprises are the No. 2 wine, Big Wine’s Woodbridge pinot noir, from Constellation Brands, and the Vin Vault cabernet sauvignon box at No. 7 from E&J Gallo. Much of the rest of the list, sadly, is a lot of wines with limited distribution (from Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, New York state) and prices that aren’t $15 or less in the middle of the country. But several Hall of Fame standbys are there, including Bogle, Dry Creek, and Yalumba.
• Not again? A Florida startup wants to put “micro marts” in condo communities in several locations throughout the state, selling sandwiches, snacks, and alcohol. In other words, wine vending machines. The Florida Politics website reports that the company has come up with a convoluted plan to check IDs that includes scanning fingerprints from a data base of approved uses. Plus, condo residents would have to go through “checkpoints” to get to the machines, including building security. How much fun does that sound?
? So long, vending machines: Pennsylvania's attempt to add wine vending machines to its already unique arsenal of state-sponsored wine selling venues has apparently failed. That the vending machines didn't really work wasn't the reason; rather, the company that does the machines is behind on its payments to the states. Some background here, which will make most of us who value common sense wince. The good news, reports my pal Dave Falchek and one of Pennsylvania's top wine writers, is that the entire state-sponsored system in Pennsylvania seems near an end. Dave was positively giddy about its demise when I saw him at the Indy International competition last week.
? Congratulations: Devon Broglie, who buys wine for Whole Foods in the southwest U.S., is one of the newest master sommeliers in the United States. This is impressive not only because earning those initials is so difficult — there are only 112 in North America — but because Broglie believes in regional wine. He is a huge advocate for Texas wine, as well as for the other states for which he buys wine for the grocery store chain.
? Too many wine choices: Young people are increasingly celebrating special occasions at home with a bottle of wine, but are baffled by the seemingly endless choices on supermarket shelves, says a British study. Keep in mind that it's difficult to extrapolate these results to the U.S. market, since Britain's drinking culture differs from ours, but it's worth noting that the study found that 55 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds drinks at home to mark a special event, compared to just 41 percent of all British in-home drinkers. More than a fifth of 18-34s believe the large wine selection in supermarkets makes buying too complicated compared to just 1 in 10 over-34s. And half admit that without discounting they would probably buy less wine than they do. In other words, people who buy a lot of wine are confused and base their decision on price since they are confused.