? Wine shoppers overwhelmed: This is not really news to anyone who has actually gone wine shopping (as opposed to buying by scores and snobbery), given the 400 or so brands introduced each year. But it is interesting that one of the largest wine companies in the world has noticed. Constellation Wines, the U.S. arm of massive Constellation Brands, says almost one-quarter of wine shoppers are overwhelmed by sheer volume of choices on store shelves and like to drink wine, but don’t know what kind to buy and may select by label. Which explains why so many of those brands have cute animal labels.
? Celebrity wines score big: Why not, if consumers are overwhelmed? A Nielsen study says celebrity wine — wines associated with a famous person — have increased in sales nearly 19 percent from 2006 to 2007. They’re also willing to pay more for a celebrity label, almost 50 percent more if the label has Paul Newman or Mike Ditka’s name on it. Oddly, the biggest market for celebrity wine in the U.S. is Phoenix. Los Angeles is second.
? Diners tiring of red wine? The red wine restaurant boom, which began in the early 1990s, may have begun to level off, according to a study from Wine & Spirits. The magazine’s 19th annual restaurant poll (available only to subscribers) says the the restaurants that participated said red wine accounted for 62.1 percent of their top-selling wines. That compares to 63.8 percent in 2006. In 1995, though, red wine was just half of restaurant wine sales. I’m not sure that this is as much of a trend as the magazine says it is, given the 62.1 percent number is the second highest since the survey started. The figure was 61.3 in 2005.