Getting Played by Marketing

sexy wine bombI always have my antenna up for stories about big wine perfidy, so I found these paragraphs from the Silicon Valley Bank’s annual report  on the wine business to be enlightening.

“While cabernet is still the king of varietal growth in the $11 to $14.99 price range, red blends come in second and are the current darling of discussion in the business. The reason is obvious from the large producer’s perspective.The category allows the large wine companies that dominate production enormous freedom in the substitution of varietal and place of origin, yet they are still able to maintain overall quality and margin. There may be wide bottle-to-bottle variation, but for the price, quality is there. It’s really the jug wine craze of the 1960s on steroids.

Emerging consumers are acquiescing to branding from the large wine companies because it makes their purchase easier to understand. It replaces varietal and vintage comparisons with something simple and catchy like Sexy Wine Bomb, The Prisoner, Vicious Red Blend, SLO Down Sexual Chocolate, or Cupcake Red Velvet.”

I was going to comment on these passages but I see Dave McIntyre beat me to it so I’ll just quote him:

“In other words, they’ll pour anything into that bottle, and they don’t give a damn whether one bottle tastes different from the next, because they believe we care only about that catchy name on the label.”

Jug wine on steroids? We’re being played.”

Yup. They’ve found a way to manufacture demand by using cute names while cutting production costs and raising prices. Nice.

I thought “emerging consumers”, (AKA millennials) were into authenticity.

The only way not to get played is to learn something about wine regions and varietals. A good rule of thumb is when you see a catchy name having to do with sex or violence, buy something else.


  1. Tasted The Prisoner once and never ever purchased it. I thought the blend was a joke. The joke, I guess, is on me . . . . .$285 million times over.

    Ever hear of Poizin or Zinphomaniac? They are in the marketplace!!!

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