Friday, April 08, 2005

The thirty year’s war: Reds retake White wines in US sales

Red, red wine!

Red wine has returned to outsell White in the domestic market for the first time in 30 years. This news seems about a decade behind where it should’ve been. My feeling has always been that the re-expansion of red wine was long overdue, and never really followed on the heels of the 60 Minutes’ French Paradox segment back in ’91, as it was expected to. The good news is that the American wine trade has increased 63% since the time of that original broadcast, bolstered by the plethora of studies (both foreign & domestic) showing moderate wine consumption’s strong relationship to a healthy lifestyle and longevity.

Undoubtedly, many of the people now buying red wines were drinking Chardonnay during the 90’s and have now “graduated” to the tastes the red wines have to offer. However, the marketing of the “ultra bargain” and bargain wines of the recent wine glut have had a large role in the growing experimentation of Americans with red wines. Before their availability, many people were afraid to purchase a bottle of red wine for fear they wouldn’t like it & be out the money they paid for it. So with lower prices came more purchases (with less perceived financial risk)…and with what results? That the public has found they like red wines again. This rediscovery may require wineries to shift their focus, and while white wines won’t disappear from the market, some vineyards will need to be converted over to red to meet the new demand should this trend continue for the foreseeable future.

California’s north coast counties of Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino will be the areas looked to for increased vineyard acreage and production, as they produce the highest quality fruit. That isn’t to say that Amador, El Dorado, and Placer counties won’t see any new demand, just that they’ll likely play a secondary role as far as demand is concerned. Especially as it becomes more difficult to plant new vineyards in Sonoma County. And with Napa already under quite a bit of grape cultivation, look to a boom for both Mendocino and Lake counties (provided they can generate a big enough marketing campaign).

Here’s just a few of the many articles available online about wine and it’s health benefits:
Red wine & health; red wine & saponin; WebMD article; red wine helps against skin/breast/prostate cancer & leukemia; Oak wine barrels contribute to cancer fighting; etc. (The Wine Spectator used to have a nice list of articles & links related to the health effects of wine consumption, but that list now requires a subscription to access. Too bad too, as it had extensive listings…)

Or you can Google the following & get your own list. Try these keywords to search from: “red wine”, health, saponin, polyphenol, anthocyanin, antioxidant, resveratrol, “French paradox”, anticancer, etc.



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