Drinking to Oblivion

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99%20bottles%20of%20wine%20on%20the%20wall.jpgNews that Fred Franzia of Bronco Wine Company is about to launch a new brand of wine should send fear into the hearts of wine drinkers and grape growers everywhere. That's because cheap wine is not always a good thing.

Trader Joe's sells Bronco's Charles Shaw label for two dollars a bottle (three, in Washington). What's the result? Sure, they move a lot of Two (or Three) Buck Chuck, 400 million bottles and counting. Lots of four-dollar pinot grigio and six dollar prosecco, too, with the result that Trader Joe has firmly positioned itself in the customer's mind as the go-to store for...cheap wine. Ugh.

Similarly, Yellowtail became the best-selling Australian import by undercutting every other brand in the market. Who would buy a wine from Down Under for more than ten bucks these days? The entire category of Australian wine now means "cheap."

Side note: Argentina has become known as the go-to country for Malbec, a good thing. New Zealand has become synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc, an even better thing. In fact, the kiwi Nobilo brand has just overtaken Kendall Jackson to become the number one SB in America. How'd they do it? For one thing, by actually putting a cork in the bottle, rather than a screwtop, because the American wine drinker still perceives the cork to signify a better wine.

So, yes, Franzia's Bronco Wine Company is going to start buying up surplus Australian juice and bottling it as Down Under. They hope it becomes known as "Three Dollar Koala." Not making this up.

Driving down prices does no one any good, least of all the wine growers. But it also means that consumers get crappier and crappier wine. When times get better and you think you can afford to drink better wines, there won't be any.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on July 7, 2009 9:27 AM.

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