Barefoot wine: Why it’s so popular

Barefoot wine
• Barefoot wine review 2020: Rose and Riesling

Barefoot has made wine as easy as it’s going to get; who else can say that?

Barefoot wine will soon be the best-selling brand in the U.S. – as it has been the most popular wine on the blog for the past three years – for three reasons. First, it’s cheap, usually no more than $8. In an age where wine that costs twice as much isn’t appreciably better, that’s a huge advantage. Second, thanks to owner E&J Gallo’s billions of dollars worth of marketing muscle, it’s available throughout the country and especially in the newly crucial grocery store market.

Third, and most important, Barefoot gives consumers what they think they’re supposed to drink. This doesn’t have as much to do with the Gallo house style – smooth, soft, and fruity – as it does with what the wine business has preached to U.S. consumers since the 1970s. That message: The best wines are varietal, and you should only drink wine that says cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and the like on the label. The rest of it is too confusing and too foreign and too difficult to bother with.

Barefoot has embraced the varietal message with brilliance. Any wine drinker, regardless of knowledge, can go to the grocery store and buy a bottle of technically correct, pleasant tasting Barefoot chardonnay or merlot or pinot grigio or moscato without any trouble at all. It has made wine as easy as it’s going to get; who else can say that?

Even the brand’s name and its continuing use of cork, which I’ve never understood, works for it. Barefoot is a stupid name for a wine – until you realize that most of us can’t remember wine names. But we can remember the wine with the foot on the label. And of course corks, since they’re part of the varietal message that we’ve been hearing for 40 years. The best wine uses corks in the same way that the best wine says cabernet sauvignon on the label. That neither is necessarily true is irrelevant, since we’ve heard the message so long we accept it as truth.

That discerning wine drinkers think Barefoot is too smooth, too soft, and too fruity misses the point. As reader Neidin McCullough wrote on the six-year-old Barefoot post that remains the blog’s best-ever read entry: “It tastes nice. End of story. Can’t be bothered with pretentious wine snobbery.”

Frankly, I can’t argue with Neiden. My colleagues in the Winestream Media have never understood the ordinary wine drinker, and their refusal to do so is one reason why more people don’t drink wine. Why do we mock Barefoot drinkers instead of showing them how much more fun wine can be if they’re willing to try something else?

For more on Barefoot wine:
Barefoot wine review 2016
Barefoot: Almost the best-selling wine in the U.S.
Bogle edges Barefoot to win 2014 cheap wine poll

11 thoughts on “Barefoot wine: Why it’s so popular

  • By Blake Gray -

    More people in the U.S. are drinking more wine than ever. Don’t give in to the darkness.

  • By Matt Zinkl -

    Perfectly said! I don’t always buy Barefoot, but when I do, I know, and I know this might not be a ringing endorsement, I will never be disappointed. Any product that simplifies my life in such a manner will always be purchased.

  • By Mark -

    Ever notice on Barefoot (And Other Gallo Lines) there are number and letter codes? Some say this is a color code. So the question becomes label color or wine color. When asked they state its inside info only. If its label related why hide it? Makes you think some sort of chemical code.

  • By Christine robinson -

    I recently bought a bottle of “barefoot zinfendel” and I swear to god it’s mislabeled. It’s a very dark purple, very heavy wine. It looks and taste like
    a lambrusco or a Merlot.. I live in south buffalo NY tplease check this out..
    Christine Robinson

    Also I love pink Merlot so I wanted to try a different barefoot. Ugh

  • By Esther Mobley -

    Or maybe it’s the most popular wine because it’s simply on the most shelves. If a company with as strong of a distribution muscle as Gallo’s decides they want to expand a wine’s production and push it in the marketplace, they can do it. At $8 a bottle, I’m not convinced that thoughtful decisions based on taste are playing a role so much as sheer availability.

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  • By Katherine -

    Haha you’re all wrong! I buy Barefoot bc those little four packs are so easy to portion control and there’s little commitment. I don’t like storing an opened bottle so just mentally, I can finish a little bottle with dinner. I admit to even having half of a little bottle some nights. I’m not a big drinker! I just want a few sips sometimes!

  • By Al -

    “Pretentious wine snobbery”? Where did phrasing like this come from? If someone dislikes a cheap bottle of beer or spirits they don’t get labeled as being a beer or booze snob, yet wine drinkers always get this label. If you think about it, isn’t “pretentious wine snobbery” in itself a rather pretentious term? Fact is, some people like a truly aged wine made with hands-on care and attention rather than a bottle of something that does not come by its taste and color naturally. And if you think that your Barefoot varietal is an actual single-varietal bottle, well……………………….

  • By Mary keele -

    The Barefoot Pinot Grigio is one of my favorites…price not the issue. Since the pandemic I am having issues finding it… what’s up?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Lots of wines are in short supply — it’s a function of the pandemic and supply chain problems across the country.

  • By RON -

    I just came from the grocery store and picked up a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Noir. I’m a very active mid 70’s senior and still play around 40-50 rounds of golf a year. I may have a light beer after 18 holes of golf if the weather is warm, but I really enjoy a glass of wine before dinner with Cheese and Crackers. My Father told me something I NEVER forgot and it has served me well. He said, “Wine is very simple so don’t listen to all the BS. There’s only two types of Wine. Wine you like, and Wine you don’t like. You’ll buy the Wine you like and the price won’t matter.” Works for me!

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