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Category Archives: Wine trends

“Our panel of experts:” Irony and non-winery wine clubs

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wine club expertsThird-party wine clubs — those that aren’t part of wineries — have always made the Wine Curmudgeon smile. How about the the website that rates wine clubs, and that also rates the wine clubs that the site operates? Or the wine club that offers “first-class” cabernet sauvignon from Spain, a concept that makes as much sense as coming here to find cult wine recommendations from Napa Valley.

Typically, most third-party wine clubs don’t tell you the wines you’re going to get or how they pick the wines you’re going to get. They trade on the group’s name, but are otherwise separate; hence a  newspaper wine club is a marketing tool that has nothing to do with the newspaper’s wine reporting. Mostly, there’s flowery language — “small-batch wines of real flair and value,” which means absolutely nothing when you try to parse it — and lots of promises about how good the wines are. Plus tasting notes, because all wine needs tasting notes, doesn’t it?

Which makes me wonder: Most of us wouldn’t buy shoes this way, sight unseen and trusting to someone else’s judgement. So why would we buy wine this way?

My newest smile is Global Wine Company, which runs the New York Times and Washington Post wine clubs plus those for retailer Williams-Sonoma, More and Food & Wine magazines, and celebrity chef Michael Mina. Check out the people who run the company — accountants and bankers, and a woman who helped make the PowerBar famous. There is no mention of the “panel of experts” who pick the wines, and about the only wine-related information I could find was this: “GWC handles all global wine sourcing, state compliance, and customer fulfillment, which enable partners to expand their brands into wine and drive recurring revenue.”

Mmmm, drive recurring revenue. How yummy does that sound?

Update: How much should an everyday wine cost?

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Update: How much should an everyday wine cost?How much should an everyday wine cost? Between $5 and $12, according to the poll that ran on the blog and that you can find at the bottom of this post. Thanks to everyone who participated. Several thoughts about the results:

• The $5 to $12 range, of course, is completely at odds with the wine industry’s view of how much everyday wine should cost — $12 to $18. That range came in second, but it wasn’t particularly close. Yes, this was not a scientific effort with margins of error, and yes, the results were almost certainly skewed because it was hosted by someone whose reason for being is cheap wine. But I was still surprised. I thought $12 to $18 would win, because that’s what the experts keep telling me wine drinkers want. But sometimes even I forget wine drinkers are usually smarter than the experts.

• Ultra-cheap wine, less than $5, finished fourth, barely ahead of expensive wine. This was also surprising, given how much of this wine is sold each year — some 5 million cases annually for just Two-buck Chuck, the $2.99 (or whatever) wine sold by Trader Joe’s. Either $5 fans didn’t do the poll, or many consumers see Two-buck Chuck and its ilk as something to keep in the fridge when they want a glass, but not necessarily something to open when they want a bottle of wine with dinner.

• Fewer than 2 percent of the votes were cast for expensive wine. Which also surprised me. I guess I need to remember why I do this and why so many people read what I do.

• The comments were almost as much fun as the poll, thoughtful and well-written (you can find them at the link at the top of the post). How about the guy who makes his own wine so he doesn’t have to pay for it? Or the several intelligent discussions about wine quality and price? Which is another reminder that the wine business misses an opportunity when it underestimates the intelligence of its customers.

Lists on Ranker

The VinGarde Valise

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The VinGarde ValiseRegular visitors here know how little use the Wine Curmudgeon has for wine accessories, and especially those that cost $199.99. Nevertheless, there is something about Barry Wax’s VinGarde Valise that makes me want to buy it. Maybe it’s that the video calls Barry the “wine accessories maven.” Regardless, imagine all the $10 wine I could take with me when I fly. Or throw down the stairs without breaking.

And yes, those are real bottles of Chateau Petrus in the video, perhaps the world’s most expensive wine. Barry assured me, though, that they weren’t his. The video, regardless, is much fun:

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