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Winebits 367: Cheap wine edition

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aldi cheap wineCheap wine news from around the Internet in honor of the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame:

Cheaper than water: Think wine is cheap in the U.S. or Britain? How about the price in Australia, where some wine costs less than a bottle of water? The BBC reports that a 12-ounce bottle of water costs A$2.50 (US$2.83), while a bottle of red, twice as big, costs as little as A$1 (US$.81). Some of this is the high price of bottled water Down Under; a 16.9-ounce bottle costs less than $2 in the U.S. But, as the story notes, the price has more to do with what the country’s experts are calling the “dire” state of the Aussie wine business: an expensive Australian dollar, steadily falling international demand, and a glut of wine in the domestic market. In other words, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong — for producers, anyway. For consumers, depressed prices in Australian help keep prices down elsewhere.

Miracle machine? Some people still don’t believe that cheap wine is suitable for drinking, and that it tastes like it did 20 years ago — harsh, bitter, and acidic. This is apparently why the Sonic Decanter raised $139,000 on Kickstarter, $50,000 more than its goal. The gadget is supposed age cheap wine to “bring out aromas not normally present in young, unaged wines,” soften tannins, and enhance flavors. The catch is that almost all cheap wine isn’t made to be aged, doesn’t have any extra aromas to bring out, and already has soft tannins and enhanced fruit flavors. That formula is the reason for being for most grocery store merlot. And this doesn’t take into account the $249 cost, which not only translates into two cases of $10 wine, but into four bottles of very nice white Burgundy, which I’ll take over a gadget any time.

Aldi wine: The Aldi supermarket chain’s plans for U.S. expansion — 50 percent more stores by 2018 — is welcome news for anyone who drinks cheap wine, given the company’s skill at selling quality labels for very little money. I’ve written about it on the blog quite a bit, and I’m not the only who is impressed. Max Allen, writing in The Australian, discusses the chain’s success in his country, noting that the wines it sells more than hold their own against other Australian wines, and do so for significantly less money. In fact, he uses the words “crazy cheap.”

Holiday wine gift guide 2013

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The Wine Curmudgeon didn’t think there was a need for this year’s holiday gift guide. After all, what else could anyone want to give other than the cheap wine book?

But when I asked around, I was stunned to find out that this was not the case. The consensus: “Jeff, there are more things in the wine world than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Or something like that.

So, after the jump, gift suggestions, as well as the all-important gift guidelines:

Winebits 245: New York wine, corks, wine accessories

Spectator strikes again: Just when you thought that the Winestream Media had accepted regional wine, the Wine Spectator fired a shot over the bow reminding everyone just how inferior regional wine is and always will be. Which didn’t please regional wine advocates in New York’s Long Island region. Lenn Thompson at New York Cork Report sums it up nicely: “In short, there really isn’t anything new here and I’m left wondering what the point is, honestly. Been there, done that.” The point, of course, is that we can’t make any decisions about wine on our own without checking with the Spectator first.

Consumers care about wine, not closure: More than 9 out of 10 serious U.S. wine drinkers don’t really care whether their wine has a cork, screwcap or synthetic closure, reports a study done this spring. Instead, they’re more concerned with varietal, price and region. This should not surprise regular visitors here, given the Wine Curmudgeon’s focus on making wine easier to drink. Yes, the survey was commissioned by Nomacorc, the world’s largest producer of synthetic wine closures (and a sponsor at our recent DrinkLocalWine conference), but these numbers tally with others I’ve seen over the years. The other interesting thing about the study? One-half of respondents have experienced some type of problem with natural cork, either with it being difficult to remove or breaking when it’s opened. Which, of course, doesn’t happen with a screwcap.

Useless wine gadgets: The Drinks Business, the English liquor trade, comes up with a list of the 10 wine accessories no one really needs. The magazine is to be much applauded, since wine gadgets have always seemed like a way to get wine drinkers to spend money on something other than wine. My favorite in the slideshow is the wine rack robot, if for no other reason than I can’t believe anyone really thought of it.

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