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Tag Archives: Two-buck Chuck

The Two-buck Chuck gold medal fallout

The Two-buck Chuck gold medal falloutTwo-Buck Chuck, the most notorious cheap wine of all, won three gold medals at a California wine competition last week, and the cyber-ether went wild. One member of the Winestream Media tweeted that the result proved that state fair wine competitions were worthless. Another left a comment on a blog, which had defended the medals, taking exception and implying that the competition had been rigged. And then there was this from a winemaker: “Makes one wonder what the ‘experts’ are drinking or smoking.”

All of which demonstrated the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite adage about wine: That people who claim to be experts don’t have to taste a wine to know that it isn’t any good. More, after the jump:

Private label wines, value, and quality

We’re in the middle of a tremendous price war in Dallas, where retailers are selling some wines more or less at cost. Segura Viudas, one of my favorite cavas, is $6 – about half of what it cost here a year ago (and about what it costs in Spain).

Yet the retailers don’t seem especially concerned that they’re giving away wine. Items like Segura Viudas are loss leaders to get customers into the store; once they’re in, they can switch them to brands with better margins – and, increasingly, these brands are private labels. In fact, private and store label wines, which are sold exclusively at one retailer, are perhaps the most important development on the retail side of the business over the past couple of years.

Some retailers, like Trader Joe’s and Total Wine and More, focus almost exclusively on private label, but national grocery stores and regional chains are doing them as well, tucked onto the shelf next to the Kendall-Jackson, Yellow Tail, and Barefoot.

The question, then, is whether these private labels offer value and quality, or if they’re just dodges to sell wine that consumers wouldn’t normally buy. The answer, sadly, after the Wine Curmudgeon’s recent private label experiment (unscientific, but worthwhile nonetheless) is that more and more, private labels are becoming the latter. More, after the jump:

Winebits 217: Organic wine, wine snobs, regional wine

Crummy organic wine? One reason why organic wine has never taken off, in the way of other organic products, is that the consumer doesn't see a difference in quality. And that, says a top natural-leaning winemaker, is holding back the business. Monty Waldin spoke disparagingly about “Parker 100-point” wines, calling them “not real wines," and admitted that not all organic wines on the market are high quality: “There’s a lot of boring, crap, industrialised organic wines on the market, and if the industry’s going to implode, it’s because of that.” The article, in Britain's Drinks Business magazine, doesn't pull any punches — very refreshing in a trade magazine.

Franzia on wine snobs: Fred Franzia, the man behind Two-buck Chuck, celebrated the brand's 10th anniversary with some of his famous invective: "We have won the battle with snobs and other elites who didn’t believe we could provide excellent wines at an inexpensive price. This changed the wine culture in the U.S. …" The interview, on the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat's website, also notes Franzia's claim that Two-buck Chuck increased the size of the U.S. wine market by five percent. That may or may not be true, but it's certainly a Franzia-like statement. That would mean Two-buck Chuck added $1.5 billion to the $30 billion U.S. market, which seems like a lot of $2 wine.

Regional wine and restaurant wine lists: The Springfield, Ill., Journal-Register looks at why regional wines don't do well in restaurants and discovers that consumers — shockingly — have made up their minds before they taste the wines. "We get a bad rap from people who think Illinois only sells sweet wines," says Bradley Beam of the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. "That may have been true 10 years ago, but the wines of 10 years ago are not the wines made today." This is a well done story, and one that media outlets in other regional states should do more often.

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