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Category Archives: Wine terms

Big Wine: 5 companies, 60 percent of sales, 200 brands

Call it serendipity. Shortly after my blog posts about Big Wine at the end of last year, a Michigan State study offered even more data about how Big Wine works and how it has changed the business.

The paper, “Concentration in the U.S. Wine Industry,” was compiled by Phil Howard, an associate professor who studies consolidation. After doing soft drinks and beer, he told me, wine was the next logical step.

“And even I was surprised by what I found,” Howard said. “Wine was much different than what I thought. If you go to the stores, it seems like you have all these choices, because the shared ownership is not very apparent. We wanted to help consumers understand what they were really buying.”

More, after the jump:

Wine terms: Flabby

wine terms flabby

A flabby wine has a lot in common with this fellow.

A well-made wine should have structure, and this is something that holds true regardless of price. Just because a wine is cheap doesn’t give it an excuse, and the best cheap wines do just that.

Structure means a wine should have a pleasing aroma and a beginning, a middle, and an end when you taste it. You should be able to taste the tannins (if the wine has any), as well as the acid, and the alcohol will stay in the background. In this, the wine is in balance, and that should be the goal for every winemaker.

A flabby wine doesn’t really have any structure, and one part – usually the fruit – predominates. The wine can taste almost syrupy, or more like grape juice than wine, and everything you taste sort of runs together.

The best analogy is an overweight man, whose muscle tone long ago went wherever muscle tone goes. It’s important to note, though, that – like people – a wine doesn’t have to cut and buffed to do its job. Too much structure can be just as bad as not enough, producing a wine that may be technicially correct but that offers little pleasure when you drink it.

Wine terms: Grocery store wine

One of the biggest changes in the wine business over the past decade has been the growth in wine departments in grocery stores. Just a decade ago, they were often small and cramped and dirty, and there wasn’t much to choose from – even among the biggest national chains.

Today, they look like this. More, after the jump:

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