Buy wine, not gimmicks.

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2019 at 10:15 am

Well, something finally happened to motivate me to brush the dust off this blog…

I got blocked by FitVine.

Disclaimer before I get into this: if you like FitVine, or any other brand that I may happen to speak ill of in this post or any other, I am not criticizing your taste. I have long said, and will continue to for as long as I draw breath, that the most important thing in wine at the end of the day is your experience. If you enjoy it, enjoy it. That said, I personally like to know that as much of my dollar as possible is going inside the bottle. When you buy a bottle of FitVine, you’re paying for a lot of advertising, and I’m sorry to tell you, it’s mostly deliberately misleading advertising.

Their website provides very detailed nutritional information about their wines, but of course many consumers don’t know off the top of their heads what “normal” caloric ranges are for wine. Spoiler: their wines are in normal caloric range for their price point.  Here is FitVine’s nutritional info for their Chardonnay, and a comparable one from LoseIt:

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So FitVine saves you maybe 4 calories?

I specify within price point, because they can make legit claims to being lower in sugar than a lot of other wine on the market, because a lot of other wine on the market is less expensive bulk wine, which tends to be higher in sugar. Over 35% of wine sold in the US is under $8 per bottle at retail, and when you extend that price range up to $11, you’re talking over 60% of wine sold in the US. Wines $15 and above (and I’m including everything above, all the way to the hundreds of dollars per bottle) account for right around 18% of total sales. And here’s the important part: any comparison between two wines that doesn’t take into account their respective price points is not a valid comparison, and here I’ll actually make an endorsement of FitVine. I am fully confident that FitVine is a better product than Franzia. But I don’t think FitVine should be bragging about that.

For a fair and legit comparison, you need to take into account price point, and generally where the wine comes from. FitVine wines come from Lodi, California. Despite what Credence has to say on the subject, Lodi is a lovely place for winegrowing. They have a wide diversity of micro climates that make the area suitable for cultivation of many different varietals, and the price of land compared to some of California’s more famous growing regions means you can often find great value here. But when you’re dealing with a faceless brand, and not an actual winery, there’s no way of knowing the actual pedigree of the wine you’re getting; could be a single vineyard, could be leftover bulk juice sourced from dozens of different wineries.

I’ll give you an example of how this bulk system works. In 2009, I did a harvest internship at a winery in Costières de Nîmes, France. Most of this winery’s production retails between $10-$15 in the US, it is all estate produced from an estate about 200 acres. Going into the 2009 harvest, the winery still had 2008 finished wine in tanks that hadn’t been bottled yet, and the incoming fruit of the 2009 harvest was going to need that tank space, so the winery sold the leftover 2008 off in bulk. That means a man with a tanker truck drove up to the winery, ran a hose from the tank to his truck, and pumped it in with juice from an unknown number of other wineries. The winery makes considerably less on the wine this way, but when you need the space, you need the space. However, as long as all the wine that went into that tanker truck came from Costières de Nîmes, then whoever bought it at a discount has the legal right to put that appellation name on their bottle, put that bottle on the shelf at a considerably lower price than the wines from the winery where I worked, and by and large the consumer will have no way of knowing.

Now, I have no way of knowing if or to what extent FitVine is using bulk juice, and that’s by design. It’s a brand, not a winery, and if you want to drink wines in this price point from Lodi, I’m sure there are actual wineries making at least comparable, if not superior wines, at comparable price points.

But what really set me off about FitVine, and provoked me to go pick a fight with them, was this:

Headaches from sulfites. I’ve written about this and talked about it ad nauseum, but here’s a pretty good synopsis about how headaches aren’t caused by sulfites. And you may be thinking “But Leil, this isn’t a claim being made by the winery, this is a customer testimonial!” because that’s certainly the argument that whoever was manning their instagram account tried to make, but we know that’s a bullshit argument, don’t we, kids? Their website isn’t a free for all where everything a customer submits just automatically gets posted. I know, because I posted some thoughts.

The reality is that most wine that competes with FitVine in pedigree and price is also comparable in sugar, calories, and sulfites. Based just on that information, I would probably not have gone out of my way to call them out. However, they are deliberately misrepresenting themselves, which means they are lying to consumers, and that’s just not cool.

Another new podcast!

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I know, I know, I need to write more blogs, I’m sorry you guys, I know I’m causing both of you to suffer. Anyways, I had a new podcast idea, and I’ve recorded two episodes so far, and I’d love for you to listen. A comic with whom I was working a few weeks ago gave me the idea to introduce comedy into my wine podcast, which I had somehow not thought of because I’m bad at thinking apparently. So, we drank a bottle of wine together and talked about wine and comedy. Then I did the same thing with a couple other comics, so now it’s a thing. Episodes are here.

Feedback is welcome.

I have a podcast!

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm

In case you’re new to my blog, or you don’t want to dig back to wherever I first posted a link to it, here’s a link to my podcast! I Think About Wine by I Think About Wine

It features the same inconsistent publishing schedule you’ve come to know and love here on my blog, but also you get to hear me talk. Enjoy!

Also, I’m working on putting more content on here, but in the meantime I just re-read this article that I wrote a little over a year ago, and I still think it’s awesome. Enjoy.