Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who drinks this stuff?!

I am a research junkie, probably stemming from the time when I was a math major in college. Of course, my math grades weren’t all that great, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

One of my clients just purchased data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) showing the top wine brands sold in Food stores. I took a look and the top wine is the Kendall-Jackson Reserve Chardonnay. In fact, the top 4 wines are Chardonnay and the next two are White Zinfandel. I am not talking volume either, since we know most of these come in 1.5 liter bottles. I am talking sales. The K-J sold close to $69 million worth of wine through November. That’s a LOT of wine.

Who drinks this? Are you out there reading this? Please, for my own sanity, explain to me why you buy these wines? Maybe for a future post I’ll spend the money and get a magnum of each of these wines, just so that I can taste them and make sure I can back up what I am talking about.

I must admit, I’ve never tasted the K-J, Woodbridge, Clos Du Bois, Sutter Home, or Yellow Tail. (I will put up a guilty hand at having drunk the Beringer White Zinfandel in my fraternity, but I’m not proud of it) I suspect that they taste like nothing. Maybe a little sweet, but the rest is all water and alcohol. Do people not grow out of it in college? I mean, I can understand going to the store and buying a big jug of wine for $5. In college (when the point really isn’t to taste the wine) this is economical and will do what you want it to do.

But why would people out of college continue to buy these wines? A lack of adventure? A desire to hold onto what they know? Not enough money to spend $5 more to get a better wine?

Maybe I’ve moved over to the dark side and am now a snob. I do not drink $100 Bordeaux, but I also do not drink $3 Beringer White Zinfandel (well, anymore). If you are reading this and you have a glass of Little Penguin in your hand, put it down. Please? For me? And try a Rosemont. Try a Ravenswood. Go that extra step to unbend yourself from reaching to the bottom of the shelf and see what it is at eye level.

If this is being a wine snob, then I never want to go back.


Leah said...

I have tasted YellowTail recently. It's horrible, horrible stuff. Much worse than just alcoholic water. But, before meeting you, I probably would have drunk it. Now I dump the glass down the sink.

What a difference tasting a few good wines makes.

GettyProductions said...

I view these wines as the Bud Light or Miller Light of the wine world, sometimes you want something cheap; maybe junk food is another good comparison. I am far far from a wine expert, I normally drink Micro-brews and vodka-tonics. If I do buy wine I normally hike down to this place called Kafka Wine in the Boystown area of Chicago and get a recommendation from them. They also have a french bulldog that lives in the store that likes to follow people around as they browse, that's pretty fun.

CKaye said...

I would just like to say I currently have a bottle from Leelanau Cellars in my fridge, but I will admit to drinking some Bohemian Rhapsody red wine. *head bows* Then again, I am a poor college student who is still working on her tastebuds within the wine world.. don't judge. :)

cblukens said...

I can't go back either. I recently served a Yellow Tail Merlot blind to a group of wine snobs. I destroyed their trust, but everyone thought it was serviceable (a few thought it was Right Bank bordx). So that's the thing, at least with Yellow Tail, is that it's just good enough for the everyday palate. My hope, like you, is that maybe 1 of 10 Yellow Tail drinkers get sick of it and move on to something better. More challenging.

Anonymous said...

As someone who works in retail, the consumers of these products is usually an older woman, a middle-aged mom on a budget, or a man buying for the a fore-mentioned demographics. They do serve a purpose. In the Midwest, it's a struggle to get away from Puritanical notions of alcohol consumption, so we take what we can get. Don't get me wrong, we always try to introduce new things to our customers, but some people you just can't win over.

Rob Bralow said...

Oh, I have no doubt they serve a purpose. In fact, it is nice to have it there, it give me a gauge of how much wine experience a person has. I am actually planning to slip one into a tasting I am doing next week to see who notices.

I always preach that people should go with what they enjoy. If they really like Yellow Tail over Grange, then who am I to say they are wrong.

The notion that it is the same as Bud Light or Miller Lite is exactly right, in my opinion. Its inoffensive enough that most people will be able to drink it. I will always go for my Yuengling.

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