Winebits 97: Grocery store wine, consumer trends, solar panels

? Wine Magazine honors Aldi: Decanter, the British Wine Magazine that is best known for keeping tabs on high-end Burgundy and Bordeaux and its excellent news coverage, has acknowledged the recession. Its annual retailer awards included a ?Commendation ? to Aldi, a German chain that is making inroads into the United States. It honored Aldi ?for leading the way with good-quality cheaper wine. ? This is nothing short of amazing. Decanter isn ?t as over-the-top as most of the U.S. Wine Magazines, but it still doesn ?t spend all that much time on cheap wine. We ?re getting several Aldi ?s in Dallas, including one not that far from me. Apparently, they do it with private label wines, so it will be worth checking out.

? Wine drinkers going from ?frills to basics: ? Or so said several top wine industry analysts at a wine industry symposium. One said that the industry is not out of the woods yet, and that unemployment should rise through 2009. A number cruncher from Nielsen told the group that consumers are desperately seeking value, resulting in the "re-prioritization of discretionary vs necessity," and a switch "from frills and luxuries to basics and value." In other words, all that stuff the Wine Curmudgeon has been saying for years. How come I ?m not a highly-paid consultant?

? Green-thinking thieves: A Napa Valley winery has become the latest victim of criminals stealing expensive solar panels. The theft of about 25 panels at a winery that asked that is name not be released, was the 17th in the region since the beginning 2008. The solar panels in the case were worth $30,000. Previous thefts were worth as much as $50,000. This leaves two questions: How did they get the panels off without breaking them and who fences solar panels?

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