Winebits 573: Sweet red wine, pension plans, Barefoot

sweet red wine
Eric Asimov is not a fan of Big Wine

This week’s wine news: The New York Times’ Eric Asimov takes on sweet red wine, plus wine helps a pension plan go belly up and Barefoot reaches 20 million cases

An unlikely review: The Times’ Eric Asimov, who makes no secret of his disdain for Big Wine, discusses three top-selling Big Wine products in a recent Times’ wine school column. His comments about E&J Gallo’s Apothic and Constellation Brands’ The Prisoner and Meomi are almost as priceless as as the comments readers left. It’s also worth noting that the wines are sweet reds – Apothic more or less labeled as such, and the other two hiding sugar behind a dry red wine label. As such, there are three of the most contentious wines among those of us who do what Asimov does.

How to make a million in the wine business: Dallas’ police and fire pension fund almost went broke last year, and only tremendous sacrifices by the cops and firefighters – who weren’t responsible for the collapse – saved the system (which is a story for another day). The point for the blog? The pension system was so badly mismanaged that it had investments in wine real estate. How is that mismanagement? Because the first rule of the wine business is this very old joke: How do you make a million in the wine business? Start with two million.

Only 20 million cases: Barefoot, also an E&J Gallo brand, has grown to 20 million cases – or about one bottle for every drinking age adult in the U.S. That’s a mind-boggling statistic. The story from the Shanken trade news site is mostly puff (boxed wine is hardly an innovation in 2019), but it’s worth reading to note how important $7 Barefoot is to the health of the U.S. wine business. We can talk about premiumization all we want, but if Barefoot was a winery, it would be the fourth biggest producer in the U.S.

2 thoughts on “Winebits 573: Sweet red wine, pension plans, Barefoot

  • By burnsey -

    I must say, I was caught off guard by Eric’s recent suggested wines to try.
    Maybe he is researching who really reads his columns?
    Surprisingly, many had never had these wines. I think one would be hard pressed to walk into an upscale restaurant without at least two of these wines being offered.
    I had to chuckle at the comments, generally not too favorable. The mention of sugar, oak chips, flavoring agents was telling. personally, I shudder when someone tells me how mush they enjoy Pino Noir, and Meomi is their favorite.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      I think there’s more to the Asimov article than meets the eye, and that it wasn’t necessarily Asimov’s idea. For one thing, you can’t buy wine in grocery stores in New York. Based on my newspaper experience, It strikes me as something an editor would suggest, especially since the Times has such a large national on-line audience. And if an editor suggests something, the reporter — no matter who — usually does it.

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