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Why grocery stores love wine

Because they sell so much of it — and a lot more than most of us realize. Hence the reason for the Great Wall of Wine. Wine was the seventh biggest category Read More »

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Wine of the week: Robert Hall Rose de Robles 2013

One of the best winemakers too many people have not heard of is Robert Hall’s Don Brady. The Wine Curmudgeon has waxed poetic about his work many times, that Brady is able Read More »

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Winebits 347: Ordering wine, Big Wine, Treasury wine

• What does it say that this is even necessary? The Daily Meal website offers advice on “How not to sound stupid when ordering wine,” the need for which makes the Wine Read More »

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Great quotes in wine history: Sheldon Cooper

Sheldon’s reaction after he finds out that people call him crazy because he thinks the Winestream Media doesn’t know bazinga about wine. A tip o’ the Wine Curmudgeon’s fedora to the Dedoimedo Read More »

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Update: Third-party wine clubs and their experts

Global Wine Company, the subject of a post in May that discussed third-party wine clubs and the “experts” who pick their wines, has decided that transparency is the better part of valor. Read More »

Expensive wine 66: Guffens-Heynen Pouilly-Fuissé Tri des 25 ans 2005

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Guffens-Heynen Pouilly-Fuissé Tri des 25 ans 2005Great wines have great stories to go with them, even if the stories can be embarrassing. Such is the case with the Guffens ($80, purchased, 13%), although the story isn’t about the wine as it is the people involved.

Jay Biletti has been a long-time supporter of Drink Local Wine and an advocate for Arizona wine. I’ve judged with him many times, and he is a smart wine guy who is always fun to taste with. Several years ago, when Jay and I were judging the late Southwestern Wine Competition, we ordered a bottle of white Burgundy. It tasted and smelled quite funky. “It’s corked,” said Jay, who could plainly smell wet dogs and damp basements. “Oh no,” I said. “It’s just funky. White Burgundy can do that.” We went around with this for a bit, and Jay almost believed me. So we asked Diane Teitelbaum, whose wine knowledge is immeasurable and who was eating dinner with us. She took one whiff, and gave me a firm look. “Of course it’s corked, Jeff. What were you thinking?”

Hence the Guffens, which Jay brought to dinner in honor of that night when he was in Dallas this summer. Which was not corked. Really. It’s classic white Burgundy (chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France, in this case the Pouilly-Fuissé part of Burgundy). It’s still very young, and won’t reach its peak for at least another couple of years. The fruit (apple-ish?) is way in the back, and you’ll taste more white pepper and minerality than anything else. The oak is hovering over all, in exactly the way oak should hover.

Jay and I enjoyed the wine, and he was very nice when we told the corked story to the other guests. They didn’t even laugh too hard.

Why grocery stores love wine

winetrends

grocery store wine salesBecause they sell so much of it — and a lot more than most of us realize. Hence the reason for the Great Wall of Wine.

Wine was the seventh biggest category by dollar amount for supermarkets in the 52 weeks ending June 15, recording $6.9 billion in sales. That’s up 3.7 percent from the same period a year ago, and works out to an average of $9.27 a bottle. The figures come from a study by the IRI marketing consultancy and published in the Supermarket News trade magazine.

How impressive are those numbers?

• They don’t include wine sales in New York or Pennsylvania, two huge markets that don’t allow supermarkets to sell wine. Yet, even without those two states, grocers account for about 20 percent of U.S. wine sales.

• They don’t include wine sales at Target, Walmart, and Costco. Throw those in, and that 20 percent total should increase by more than a few points.

• Wine was bigger than a host of established items, including cereal, coffee, bottled water, cookies, and soup. Some of that was because wine is more expensive; we bought three times more cans of soup than bottles of wine. Even so, it’s an impressive total, given the restrictions on wine sales. In Texas, for example, we can buy soup as long as the store is open, but we can’t buy wine on Sunday until noon.

• Wine’s growth was bigger than soft drinks, which lost 3.9 percent, as well as cereal (down 4.3 percent), ice cream (down 0.3 percent), frozen pizza (unchanged), and toilet paper (-0.2 percent). I can’t even pretend to make sense of that. Since when did we need wine more than toilet paper?

These numbers, more than anything else, explain why there is so much opposition to supermarket wine sales in the 19 states where it’s still prohibited. We’re not buying jug wine at the grocery store. That $9 average price means we’re buying many of the same wines we’d buy at wine shops and liquor stores, and small retailers don’t want the competition.

The irony is that, as has been noted on the blog, small retailers may prosper competing with grocers, since they offer something supermarkets can’t — someone to answer questions. The Great Wall of Wine has nothing to do with service.

Photo courtesy of Houston Press food blog, using a Creative Commons license

Wine of the week: Robert Hall Rose de Robles 2013

wineofweek

robert hall rose de roblesOne of the best winemakers too many people have not heard of is Robert Hall’s Don Brady. The Wine Curmudgeon has waxed poetic about his work many times, that Brady is able to make interesting, terroir-driven, value-worthy wines in California’s Paso Robles when so many others there go for scores, an excess of fruit, sticker shock, and too much alcohol.

The current version of the rose ($11, purchased, 13%) is a case in point. It’s a blend, including grenache and cinsault, and has a little more strawberry fruit this year than last, so it isn’t as lean or as mouthwatering as in previous vintages. But that’s not a bad thing, for it reflects Paso Robles, which is warmer and produces richer, fruitier wines. And this is a rich, comforting rose that is still low in alcohol. How many others can make that claim?

Highly recommended, not just for summer porch sipping, but as a food wine — hamburgers, smoked chicken, and pulled pork (for the au courant among the blog’s visitors).

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