Wine sales league table of the day

By Felix Salmon
September 15, 2009
Mike Veseth reprints the most depressing list I've seen in a long time:

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Mike Veseth reprints the most depressing list I’ve seen in a long time:

The top ten individual wines (by volume not value of sales) in 2008 were (drum roll) …

  1. Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
  2. Cavit Pinot Grigio
  3. Beringer White Zinfandel
  4. Sutter Home White Zin
  5. Inglenook Chablis
  6. Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
  7. Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio
  8. Copper Ridge Chardonnay
  9. Yellow Tail Chardonnay
  10. Franzia White Zin

The top-volume wines are always, by definition, going to be mass-produced wines. But that doesn’t mean that every single one has to be white (or the abomination known as “White Zinfandel”, which is basically wine for people who think that Yellow Tail Chardonnay is too dry).

Franzia White Zin retails for as little as $13.11 for a 5-liter box; if you assume the wholesale price is say $12, and assume 125ml glasses of wine, that puts the cost to the restaurant of a glass of wine at just 30 cents. You can see why restaurants would be keen to push this stuff. And you can also see why any self-respecting diner would rather stick to Budweiser.


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I am surprised that Trader Joe’s 2 (or 3) buck chuck is not on the list. I know it is not carried in the likes of Wall Mart, but its price point is so low that I always buy 3 or 4 bottles when I normally would have bought only 1 of say Yellow Tail.

Just for fun (and to see if I can depress you a bit more) here are the next ten wines on the list

11. Yellow Tail Shiraz
12. Franzia White Zin
13. Wycliff (Gallo) Brut
14. Woodbridge Chard
15. Martini and Rossi vermouth
16. Sutter Home Chard
17. Santa Margherita Pinto Grigio
18. Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling
19. Foxhorn Vineyards Chard
20. Taylor California Cellars Chablis

For the record, I think the CSM Riesling is a very respectable wine, especially for its price, and goes well with food. I have written about the Santa Margherita PG here a-margherita-syndrome/

Regarding the lack of Two Buck Chuck — this is the list for restaurant wine sales as the complete post on my blog makes clear.

I’m actually very surprised that vermouth is on the list. I must assume that this is either used for cooking at the restaurant and/or in mixed drinks?

Also, I realize that red versus white is a personal thing, but frankly I find it shocking that the hypothesis is that Olive garden is doing great education if there isn’t a single red on the list. I’ve been to Olive Garden and there are plenty of items that would pair well with reds. My sense is that the list reflects two things. 1/ that whites are cheaper than reds; and 2/ that Americans LOVE sweet wines. I think this is Felix’s point about white Zinfindel. In the U.S. white Zinfindel or Rose wine is really just a way to repackaged wine coolers.

Posted by Chappy | Report as abusive

Many of us engaged in the profession of selling wine (and of course) drinking it with regularity (in my case since the seventies) are of the mindset that “the abomination known as White Zinfandel” as you call it, is directly responsible for the level of wine drinking enjoyed today from a retail, consumption and satisfaction perspective… CHEERS! to Mr. Trinchero!!!

Posted by Ric Romano | Report as abusive

I found this light and crisp white wine, from portugal, and thought i’d pass it along to you. Its called JM Fonseca Twin Vines. They actually have a sweepstakes they’re doing for a trip to Portugal to see this amazing singer, Ana Free. The link is below:

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

I have well over 40 years of selling wine and I see nothing on that list except Inglenook Chablis that does not surprise me. Maybe some wine geeks had better tone down their wine ego’s and just appreciate the fact that the common person is drinking and enjoying wine. I remember an account I called on that had a customer who bought cases of Woodbridge Chardonnay. Not a big deal except her family owned of of the biggest Department store chains in the United States, but that is what they liked and were very happy with the wine. And that in my mind is what is really counts.

Posted by Jim L. | Report as abusive

As a sommelier i def have had my share of fine wines and how i do agree and wish the general public would range out a little more and try some new and better things, but anyone who actually knows, and understands the wine world well understands that people drink what they like. And who are you to call white zin an abomination? obviously the write has no real grasp of what wine is and is supposed to be, and that is very simply put, a drink that is to be enjoyed. And if white zin is what you enjoy, then i say drink up!! Its like saying pepsi is so horrible because i think coke is so much better, its ridiculous.

Posted by jbeayrd21 | Report as abusive