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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Rise of Commodity Wines?

"We needed to recognize that convenience is an important factor in the fast turn-around bottled [wine] segment." ~ Carlos de Jesus

Convenience is one of the biggest factors driving many consumers to make the choices they do each day. Whether it's wine or cheese, convenience will be part of the equation. Think about American cheese for a moment, as we've come to iconically understand it, bright yellow, and often comes wrapped in an odd type of cellophane. 

While it may conveniently lie across a freshly grilled burger or a sandwich, neat, no-fuss and no-muss. However, if you want to dial-it-up a finer cheese experience, to serve guest, then you're probably not thinking of convenience or commodity cheese. It's a safe-bet that fromage frais will be on the shopping list. Many commodity wines also fit nicely into the convenience category; they're simple, ordinary, monolithic and sadly formulaic.

Many of you know Jamie Goode [who pronounced the death of wine-blogs] writing for the Wine Anorak, has introduced a new multi-part series tracing "The Rise of the Wine Brands" oh-my another vast red-wine conspiracy. 

"There are two genres of wine. On the one hand we have wine as a commodity: grapes are grown, crushed and made into wine, which is then sold cheaply and consumed uncritically. In this case, the consumer views wine in much the same way as they would treat flour, milk, fruit juice or instant coffee." and on the other hand Read More:  

A sad but true commentary on what makes up the largest segment of the wine industry, commodity wines. When attempting to understand the difference between commodity wines and fine wines; the following answer to a wine-searcher.com Q & A makes the point in spades.
"Several years ago, when I was very young, I was in the U.S. and pouring wines in a wine shop. One guy came up to me and said, 'Is your wine better than Lambrusco?' I said, 'I hope so.' He tasted the wine and before he was leaving he said: 'Believe me, Lambrusco is better.'  ~ Marilisa Allegrini is a sixth-generation member of top Valpolicella wine producer Allegrini Estates"
While it may be useful to remember that the vast majority of wine drinkers here in states are drinking bulk juice or commodity wines as their everyday go to choice. I believe it's also important to understand that those same folks are not reading wine-blogs or any other wine related publication for the most part, if at all. They don't know or care who Robert Parker is and they only have a slightest bit of understanding when it comes to the now hated [by some] 100 point scale. 

As you read through some of the articles, you can kind-of start to see a dividing-line. On one hand you have the "bulk-wine [commodity/value] drinkers and the other side of the equation the "interest" or "terrior" drinkers" [Mr. Goode]


Here's another article [via the Drinks Business] confirming the desire of many to consume commodity/value styles of wine. Read More:
“Americans can't get enough of moscato, and there’s a rosé renaissance is in full flow, and the red blends boom is big news in 2013, according to the latest U.S. sales analysis.” And yet the highly homogenized styles of Chardonnay is still riding a growing wave of consumer demand.
A report compiled from a 2011 Top Ten [value] Wine Brands [even tho two years old, the only thing that may have changed is the position of the pieces on the chess-board] confirms there's definitely a rise in the preference for commodity wines.

So did you think commodity wines are done pushing the limits of absurdity? Nope, it appears they're just getting started, so move-over beer in a can and wine-bag in a box, here comes Winestar. The place where commodity wines meet vending machine convenience. 
“We are targeting a specific market and season: young French consumers who are bypassing wine shelves and instead plucking off cans of fizzy drinks and juices to wash down their picnic meals.” wine-searcher.com 

But so what? Honestly, for me personally I'm not really panicked or even remotely worried by these trends. Like some seen sporting tight-fitting tin-foil hats who see a vast red-wine conspiracy to limit the choices of the average vinosapien on the vinous super-highway. To that notion, I say balderdash! From what I've seen [with eyes wide open] there are so many choices out there for the adventurous vino-sapien, it would take a lifetime or more to explore them all. 

It's my contention that good food and good wine should not be the rare commodity, but rather it should be a model which we strive to live-by. Sadly tho, very few vinosapiens, will ever want or desire to live their life that way. And I'm perfectly fine with that, please by all means "drink what you like" but expect a bit of [unbeknownst] friendly mockery in regards to your choice to consume the same jug-wines day in and day out.


While many wine drinkers/consumers like you [dear reader] and I are the exception, yet I still don't see my choices for discovering wines with soul being limited in anyway. No instead, I actually continue to discover new and exciting regions which produce amazingly affordable wines, which are not produced like a cheap commodity, but are still wonderfully convenient to purchase.So again remember life is short, live well and drink well. Until next time sit back, relax and continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

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