Why Plonk Wines Are Here to Stay
“The consumer doesn't know. They think it comes from a guy who farmed his land and made it in his small barrels in his little winery.”
Sometimes when I see folks tweeting about or throwing up a FB posts about seemingly generic mass produced [commodity] wines, like Chateau Two-by-Four [insert mass market label here] Chardonnay for example, I cringe. I believe there are far too many wine blogs accepting these styles of wine for the review process [please stop] and in my opinion that is a real shame.
When I'm asked to accept a sample of ordinary run-of-the-mill commodity wines like that and review them, again I cringe, and I kindly reply no thanks. If I were to accept plonk or commodity wines as a sample, then I'd feel like I've not done my job properly as a wine-writer.
I'd feel like I've not shook enough trees, driven down enough winery roads, or have been to enough tastings to let folks know they have alternatives, outside of the fast-food California wine market place. Please don't get me wrong, California isn't the only guilty party here in regards to commodity wines [aka, plonk] all the other major wine producing countries are doing the same thing. I know the opinion I'm sharing here is not popular, but that has never stopped me before. So if this moment of 'frankness' closes a few doors, then I say so be it.
Let me go a step further in regards to commodity wines; to me those "kind" of wines are all too similar of a choice between two widely different options. It's more like the choice to either buy farm-raised salmon [blech] or instead going for the [pricier] "wild-caught" Sockeye there's no comparison. Why so many folks just settle for the farm-raised alternative when it comes to their choice of wine, strikes me as sadly strange.
To be completely honest and forthright, those are not the folks reading this blog or any blog for that matter. In fact folks who would describe themselves as commodity wine drinkers don't even care about or even bother to read wine reviews of any kind or related commentary. So why are countless other bloggers and PR agencies spinning their collective wheels attempting to pedal what amounts to be nothing more than plonk? I for once, don't have any quick smartass opinions to offer, but it again it does strike me as strange.
Personally, I don't mind paying a bit extra for authentic wines with soul, but so many folks do and they'll not even consider purchasing wines costing more than $10. And you know I'm actually glad that the vast unwashed masses of vinosapiens out there in the hinterlands of winedom have zero to no interest in purchasing or experiencing wines costing more than ten dollars.
Going back to the one of the most easily overlooked points of his great article on the subject [which I have linked to below] is, and I'm paraphrasing, because American's as a whole drink so much wine, there is no way the small producers we all know and love could keep up with the demand.
Just imagine [a nightmare] for a moment if everyone drinking the plonk [commodity] wines today, suddenly decided "you know those 5% wine drinkers are right" and they all decided they'd like to acquire the same wines we all know and love. Egad, the demand for the better wines would skyrocket, the prices would go through the roof, and we'd all experience what many do now because of the Chinese interest in the [high-end] wines of
crazy inflation of wine prices and demand would outstrip the supply. Burgundy
According to an article by Keith Wallace in 2009 "How Wine Became Fast Food" [citing the article] "Since most people like to stick with familiar brands and cheap prices, it’s [Plonk] a necessity. Americans consumed 700 million gallons of wine last year, 80 percent of which sold for less than $10, according to ACNeilsen and The Beverage Information Group." Read More.
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, for example wines like La Crema Chardonnay, Menage a Trois, Three Buck Chuck and a bevy of other formulaic wines made in a similar style.
So it would appear that Plonk Wines actually have a purpose [who knew?] and are needed in the greater wine economy at large. It's a "give the people what they and they'll beat a path to your door type of scenario" one stained brightly with Mega Purple. I'm NOT attempting to be disparaging to that segment of the wine community simply for disparagement sake.
But these types of wines do provide an alternative to the 95% of wine [plonk wine consumers] drinkers who will not drink wines over $10, which [IMO] are simply nothing but plonk [please just be honest]. Before anyone gets their nose too far bent out of shape, I know there are exceptions to the rule, but as we all know exceptions don't make the rule. Now that said, please join me in a loud hip-hip hooray, cheap pedestrian wines are here to stay, rejoice. Can I get a hallelujah and amen?
While many wine drinkers/consumers like you [dear reader] and I are the exception, [the 5%] 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!