Winebits 677: The year-end supermarket wine edition

supermarket wineThis week’s wine news: Supermarket wines could account for almost half of the wine sold in the U.S. Meanwhile, Kroger says sauvignon blanc was a 2020 hot trend and southern California retailer Gelson scores with its private label wine.

How important is supermarket wine? Pretty damned important, if this study from the American Association of Wine Economists is accurate. Its numbers show that the 30 biggest wine brands in the U.S. – all mostly supermarket labels costing $10 or less – accounted for 49.8 percent of the wine sold in the U.S. by volume in 2019. Think about that: There are more than 10,000 wineries in this country, and just 30 labels make up half of the wine sold. But that’s just part of the study. Barefoot and Franzia sell about one of every seven bottles, and their wineries, E&J Gallo and The Wine Group, control almost one of every three bottles sold. And people doubted consolidation matters? The other bit of news about this study? It’s not really news – just a slightly different take on the numbers than the annual Wine Business Monthly report, which will be released in a month or so.

Bring on the sauvignon blanc: Kroger, which ranks among the biggest wine retailers in the country, reports that sauvignon blanc – yes, that sauvignon blanc – was the fourth biggest food and drink trend in its 2,800-store national chain this year. That put the white wine between flavored potato chips and heavy whipping cream, and ahead of chocolate (No. 8) and coffee pods (No. 9). The pandemic and people drinking at home instead of restaurants no doubt accounted for the high ranking, but let’s not overlook relaxed rules on wine shipping and delivery. As noted last week, Kroger has the money and chops to flex its political muscle to keep many of the changes permanent when the pandemic ends.

Private label wine: Southern California grocer Gelson’s Markets expanded its private label wine collection in 2020, taking advantage of the wine glut to offer pricier wines than the stuff in the first item in this post. The chain added four reserve Napa wines, products that can cost as much as $100 with a winery name on them. Gelson’s is a high end retailer with a big wine commitment; about half of is 27 stores have wine bars.

Photo: “Barefoot Wine Display at Ralph’s” by JoeInSouthernCA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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