Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's official: there's too much wine.

A coincidence of small events led me to a large realization. 

Small event 1.  Someone comes in last week with an already-opened-but-resealed bottle of this stuff, 2011 Albertoni California Cab. It was given to them by a guy who buys it by the case, but this one was surrendered as a gift to a mutual wine drinker.  After a very small sampling, it was deemed ROT! and hence presented to me.  

Many wine people suffer many bottles of not great wine given to them by hard-working and well-meaning friends, family, and other miscellaneous cohorts.  They politely take the wine, it's in their car, they come here to get much better wine, I get the car wine. 

I dig this because I think it's super funny.  Also I have low standards anyway so everyone wins.  Also this is The Cave, a social-protocol-free designation, AKA, "dumping ground."  Either way, it serves the purpose of better wine in your world.  I am here to help. 

So when someone handed me this bottle of ROT! I was not at all offended.  Knowing me I'd probably like the stuff.  Here's the email I sent them after tasting it. (click on images to enlarge.)

The consensus is there is little actual wine in this wine, much like there is little actual grape in Hi-C Grape..."juice?"  It went further: nothing from the earth, nothing alive, was in that bottle. As it was pouring into the sink, the smell was chemical at best, most likely something from New Jersey.

Albertoni is via Bronco Wine Company, the fourth largest wine producer in the US with over 60 labels, including the infamous Charles Shaw. This bottle has a $7.99 price tag on it.  For that, you could probably do better with Yellow Tail so why do we even need Albertoni "Cabernet"?

Small event 2.  Which leads us to coincidence number two.  I very soon after perused the latest Wine Spectator issue, and after recovering from a mild panic attack over the cover story, with images of fleeing Cave dwellers for in-home cellars dancing in my head, my eyes wandered down to the even more disturbing sub-story:
And then it *clicks,* the Great Realization: Do we NEED this many wines? 

It's a difficult statistic to Google: how many wines are there? I can Google how many wineries there are in the US (7, 116),  I can Google how many bottles of wine are produced each year (about 36 billion) and how many wine varieties there are (about 10,000 distinct).  But 'how many brands of Cabernet are in the world' is too general for The Google to churn. My guess is about 35 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 899 too many.

There was this great article in Fortune Magazine, 2010, on Trader Joe's. It discusses TJ's success with the paradox of choice and how by engaging in this its profit-per-square-foot is double that of Whole Foods. 

Do we really need a billion hot sauces from which to choose? Can't there be, like, the really super good artisinal one imported from hell (because it's HOT) for the connoisseurs, the one with mango in it for the hipsters, the experimental one made from organic air swirling above heirloom peppers growing in a local urban farm for the millennials, the standard not too hot one most of us get, the tepid one everyone else gets, and one hot sauce-product for the people who buy Albertoni Cabernet?  Maybe 10 or fifteen hot sauces, twenty tops, that's all you need.


Okay, hot sauce was a bad example, but you know what I mean!

Apologies, dear Bronco.  And the hot sauce industry.  Maybe a few customers, whom I still adore.  Cheers.