ithinkaboutwine

Insincere wine that is lying to you.

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I apologize in advance if this comes across as a bit angry, but I’ve just discovered a particularly rich vein of nerd rage ore in my mind. I’ve edited it to be a bit more democratic, but I admit up front that this post is a bit opinionated.

So, here’s the thing. There is a lot of insincere wine out there. When I say insincere wine, I mean wine with no soul. It’s a million degrees divorced from the grapes and the soil it came from, and there are a littany of marketing people in the gap between when those grapes were harvested and the time they end up in some bedazzled bottle on a grocery store shelf, whorishly enticing the consumer with some name that either implies that the wine tastes like some sort of pastry. These wines are wine in only the strictest sense; they are made of grapes, or at least mostly of grapes.

That’s with the exception of course of the ones that actually look like chocolate milk (there are several brands) and claim to be a mix of “Fine French Cabernet and Dutch Chocolate” or some other such nonsense. I don’t know how these things are produced, but I promise you they’re not taking red wine and just stirring in chocolate, because that wouldn’t bloody well work. Most of these products hover around the 14% abv mark. Since that’s about average alcohol for wines that are actually real wine, and since these  chocolate wines are clearly mixed with cream or something that mimics cream, plus whatever flavoring, then whatever alcohol these -ahem- beverages are actually made of has to start out at a higher %. Then you’ve got the color of red wine. Now, sure, if you really wanted to put the time and effort into it, you could probably come up with the right food coloring combination to take red wine, add cream, then add the right amount of green to the red to get the brown you wanted. But if you’re making chocolate wine, you don’t want to make any such effort. You want to sugar up your choco-tastic booze-milk product, slap whatever asinine label on it you’ve come up with, and send it out to market.

And for the record, I’m not trying to rag on the people who like these drinks. I am absolutely sincere when I say that you should drink whatever makes you happy, and if alcoholic yoo-hoo is your thing, go nuts! I just can’t stand this two-faced marketing trend that insists on pretending that this brown plonk belongs in the same category with wine. The people responsible for these wines are lying to their consumers and banking on the consumer either not knowing or not caring they’re being lied to. The truth is that chocolate milk and vodka would have the same basic effect, and probably be cheaper. I’m actually thinking about doing a blind tasting to prove this exact point. Stay tuned for that. But the marketers don’t want the people who buy these wines to be honest with themselves. They propagate the false notion that there is something inherently elite, classy, fancy, or grown-up about wine. They treat their consumers like children, giving them a Power Wheels car and telling them it’s just like daddy’s.

I’m going to say something here that might get me in trouble later, but here it is. Wine isn’t inherently fancy. There, I said it. In the mind of so many American consumers, wine seems to occupy this place of unique importance, set apart from all other types of alcohol. And don’t get me wrong, I love wine. I drink more wine than I do any other type of alcohol, and probably more than I should, and if I could never drink wine again for the rest of my life I would be very, very sad. But I don’t think that drinking as much wine as I do, or knowing as much about wine as I do makes me somehow inherently fancier than anybody else. I’m just a geek. Realistically, that’s probably got a lot to do with why I get so worked up over things like fake chocolate drink things that pretend to be wine.

So, moving on to wines that are slightly less bullshitty than the stuff that looks like chocolate milk and pretends to be wine, let’s talk about sweet wines that pretend not to be sweet. On this one, I do have to kind of blame the consumers too. American consumers don’t like to admit that they like things as sweet as they really do. It’s a problem that pervades our entire food culture, and contributes directly to the growing national obesity epidemic. I’m sorry, I really am, but it’s just true. We as Americans are addicted to fat, salt, and sugar. And the longer we eat diets containing an excess of these things, the worse it gets because we become desensitized to it. Sugar is also an outstanding way to disguise mediocre wine.

Again, I’m not trying to change the world here. If you want sweet wine, there’s nothing wrong with that, and you shouldn’t have to apologize for it. I just can’t abide the marketing lies all built up around convincing you that you have to drink wine to be an adult, that you have to like dry wine to be sophisticated, and then that the wine they’re marketing to you as dry actually is. For every person I meet who will honestly say to me that they like sweet wine, I meet two who will tell me they don’t like Riesling or Moscato because they’re too sweet, yet they’ll happily consume any of the myriad wines that are just as sweet, but pretend not to be. And I apologize for not giving specific examples of the kind of wines I’m talking about, but I’m not trying to start a war here. The wines I’m talking about know I’m talking about them. Wine is a grape product. Not a pastry.

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