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Category Archives: Wine terms

Wine terms: Three-tier system

Wine terms: Three-tier systemBelieve it or not, in almost seven years and more than 1,700 blog posts, I’ve never written a post explaining the three-tier system. There are lots of posts about three-tier and even some explanation, and I’ve written about it for others. But nothing here.

So, after the jump, what you need to know about the three-tier system, which regulates how everyone in the U.S. buys wine, beer, and spirits:

Is Fetzer’s Zipz glass the answer for portable wine?

fetzer zipzIs the Fetzer Zipz glass the answer for portable wine?

As usual, the answer depends on how much you pay for the wine. If you have to pay some concessionaire bandit $11 at a baseball game, absolutely not. But if you can find the wine in the plastic glass for $3 at a grocery store, and you’re not fussy about what it tastes like and you want the convenience, you could do worse.

The Zipz effort has 187 milliliters of wine, about one glass (one-quarter of a bottle). It’s a PET product, made with the kind of plastic commonly used for bottled water containers.

The Zipz looks like a wine glass, if a little clunky. It’s sealed with wrapping around the rim and stem, a plastic top, and pullback foil over the wine. The idea behind Zipz is to sell wine in places where it’s impractical for bottles and glasses, like ball games, concerts, and the like. Or, consumers can buy it at retail and take it camping or on picnics.

In this, the Zipz was surprisingly easy to open, even when I did it the wrong way the first couple of times. Tear the wrapping at the strip, gently pry the top off, and pull back the foil. I only spilled a little wine once. Plus, it was easy to chill.

The problem is that the wine is not Fetzer’s best effort. Something like House Band, a similar concept, is better made. The Quartz White (sample, 12%) was the better of the two, an apple-ly, sweet and sour blend made with more than six grapes and that tasted of moscato, though there was more chardonnay than anything else. It’s a bit sweet, which helps to cover some of the bitterness from what could be unripe grapes.

The Crimson Red (sample, 13.5%) is a lot of what turns people off of red wine – tannic and bitter, despite a slight sweetness. Both glasses I tasted seemed oxidized, and I wonder if the PET handles heat (which is one cause of oxidation) as well as glass. Or maybe both were just stored badly.

The wine has fake oak, zinfandel and syrah (plus at least four other grapes), but the blend is not greater than the whole. Having said that, if I’m at the beach, grilling burgers, only drink red wine, and I’m not picky, it’s OK. Adding an ice cube won’t hurt.

All the wine statistics you’ll ever need

Wine statsThis ties in nicely with the various Big Wine discussions we’ve had on the blog over the last month, and it also puts many of the numbers that I’ve reported over the years in one place — wine consumption, wine production, and most popular wines according to grape variety. The chart is courtesy of the Statistic Brain website, compiled in August; just ignore the misspellings.

Pay careful attention to the most popular restaurant wines, listed near the bottom of the chart, which is as Big Wine as it gets. Click here for a PDF — it's the only way I could get the chart on the site and make it readable.

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