Grind your gears: the Silicon Valley Bank wine report is out

Round Up is common precisely because it’s a (relatively) low impact herbicide. I don’t respect its use, but it’s not near as bad as something like copper sulphate, which is somehow widely accepted in French “natural” wine.

Megapurple is a concentrate. It’s a cheat, sort of like autotune. Of course you can notice it in some goofy extreme, but you aren’t going to notice if used judiciously to fine tune a wine, round it out a little. It’s used at the high-end to help achieve that perfect score, as well as other techniques that accomplish the same thing. At the low end it’s adding body to thin wine. Ingredients: grapes. Don’t be so sure it’s the culprit when you taste something suspect, and don’t be so sure wines you love don’t have any.

Oak chips? What is it you don’t like? Wines made with oak? Wines made in stainless? At the low end, it’s about keeping costs down and improving quality control. Done well, don’t be so sure you could spot the difference. Don’t be so sure there would be a difference. Don’t be so sure none of the high-end wines you love don’t use oak chips. Also, fermenting red wine in wood is problematic. It’s just asking for brett having such vulnerable vessels to protect. You can ferment with oak chips as a tannin management technique. Maybe it was done with that Petite Sirah that doesn’t need 40 years to be drinkable?


I guess I don’t have an issue with Oak Chips, but it feels like cheating because it’s a short cut. But you are right, there is nothing wrong with it.

Monsanto is paying out obscene amounts of money due to the human side effects of Round Up, which is why I’m bringing it up.

Copper sulphate is an inorganic compound (in the interest of bringing more info to the fold). It’s great for eliminating powdery mildew, but so is dropping grapes by hand :slight_smile:

When I was in my early 20s (late 70s), I loved going to restaurants and dinner parties. A bottle of wine was always part of the experience.

Here in the Vancouver area, we often are at the only table in a restaurant with a bottle of wine. There seems to be so many other options. Cocktails and beer probably deliver a higher profit, I have been told draft beer is a huge profit centre for restaurant owners. Even high end places have a couple of local micro brews on tap.

My sons who are in their 30s have never had dinner parties and rarely eat dinner out. They seem to socialize on the golf course or at breweries. I have tried to force wine on them but failed horribly.

Beer on tap is absolutely a high margin item in many venues. Cost of goods is can be 1-2ish dollars per pour. I think of it every time I pay $14 for a beer at the ballpark. (Edited to be more specific, especially with higher costs of craft beer)

There are roughly 120 pints in a half-barrel keg, and a keg of Coors/Bud/Whatever will generally run you $100-120. Anything craft is going to be significantly higher. We charge $190/keg, and I’m told that we are on the low side.

Kegs are a much more effective way to sell wine for by the glass situations, yet you don’t see it used nearly as much as it should. I think part of the reason is that, from my observation, most wineries over-price kegs by a significant amount. The wineries want to reap the packaging cost savings, rather than let that flow to the retailer. In beer, the cost savings definitely flows to the retailer.


Four relevant issues with wine on tap:

  1. It is more often than not priced at parity or above a 750ml, yet was marketed as more friendly waste reduction to save costs on glass/cardboard/corks, etc…with the expectation of savings over a 750ml

  2. With no savings or at a premium why pay to install a draft system or re-run lines for wine

  3. Keg deposits

  4. If you aren’t going to save money vs. a 750ml why invest in 26 bottles and a keg deposit and tie up capital when you can buy 3 bottles for BTG


Thank you for a first-hand example. It’s been a few years since I last sold keg beer. I’ll edit my post to correct.

2x for a good drink isn’t much of a premium.

I think your 3 bottle example is why you don’t see kegs of wine. If you’re worried about selling 3 bottles of a certain wine BTG you certainly aren’t buying a keg. I’m guessing 3 bottles of a wine BTG is the offering out of 20 BTG that doesn’t sell.

There are a lot of variables, lots of restaurants get 2 deliveries a week, and you generally see wine on tap in craft bars (beer or spirits) or accounts with a draft lineup. 3-6 bottles is a very typical order in a COD State or a State with quantity discounting. Accounts with 20 BTG likely consider wine on tap for house wines only, red, white, rose, or sparkling.

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Have to disagree about Mega-Purple Wes.

Mega-Purple is made from grapes, and no one using it should get to list an AVA on the bottle. As you noted, it’s a (very, very concentrated) concentrate and not from Yamhill-Carlton, Napa, Walla Walla, or Santa Cruz Mountains. So if you use it, judiciously or not, you are knowingly adding an impactful product that does not fit the idea of an AVA. Call it table wine and producers can add whatever fruit adjuncts they want to…

Dropping grapes by hand does nothing to prevent powdery mildew.

By the time you you can see mildew you are in deep trouble and will be dropping fruit because it isn’t going to be harvestable.

Sorry, but that is a seriously incorrect statement.


Let’s imagine if Gen Z (and more Millenials) would also strongly go into wine… we already have ever more demand and increasing prices for fine wines without these generations joining the hunt.

You aren’t disagreeing with me. It’s a cheat. There’s no way a gallon of concentrate should equate to a gallon of must. It’s allowed because it’s 100% grape. My point was it’s not some binary thing, where it’s use delineates quality and mediocrity. That Ian has almost assuredly had and loved wine that included some. We can imagine and reinforce conceptualizations about wine in our heads with zero evidence, becoming more and more certain of the myths we hold in our heads.

I’ve knowingly had wines that used it twice. One, the winemaker was proudly showing me what he’d made from bulk market wine. For those reading at home, that’s declassified wine wineries sell off through brokers. Here, it was imbalanced Pinot Noir. He did a bunch of blending and adjustments, including adding megapurple, and made an excellent $18 wine that would show well among wines twice the price.

The other was a literal 100 point wine. It was “bigger” in the way critics like James Laube would rate it higher for its intense concentration. The quality was there. The terroir behind its single vineyard designation was there. I wouldn’t say it was a plus personally, since I tend to find big wines tedious. But, that up-front Wow! factor that impresses with the first sip and garners high ratings is what the market rewards. People fight each other to attain that shit. (I was given the impression this was a one-off insider proof of concept. I know quite a few winemakers who had ripeness get ahead of them on some wine, making one of their least favorite wines of their career into the highest scoring.)


I mentioned its use in France because conventional thinking was so ingrained there. It’s effective against downy mildew, which is reportedly a lot more difficult to deal with than powdery mildew. So, the natural wine movement there just accepted its use, despite it being more impactful, less natural than anything a typical small west coast winery uses. I guarantee you it’s worse for your health than Roundup. It’s also a time bomb, building up in the soil, gradually, increasingly harming the soil biome. The end result is not good.

My point about Roundup is it marked a big step forward for being much less harmful than the conventional toxins it partially replaced, plus its ease of use. Big gubbamint regulators knew it wasn’t completely safe from the start, so require commercial uses to attain training and certification and comply with rules of use. Yet, corporate lobbying allows literally anyone to go to their local garden center or hardware store and buy it for home use. Is you neighbor going to hold off on using it until there’s a non-breezy Saturday? Or, just say “what the heck” and spray upwind of you?

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We did a keg program. It was all relationships with local restaurants and brew pubs. Basically, the winemaker fitting deliveries as-needed into his schedule. Restaurant staff would come in and taste, so they were involved in what they chose to stock. They, the most attuned to what their customers wanted. It absolutely needs to be priced to actually sell. Not some hypothetical wet dream margin that never gets realized. It was win-win on that level and provided direct feedback on what wines consumers truly enjoyed with the meals, once hand sold. That sort of thing brings customer loyalty to the restaurants that do it (including bottled wines.) Whoda thunk. Serving wines that drink very well on release and are wonderful with food, at reasonable prices. Go to places like that and they’re always packed, have a huge base of regular customers, and 90% of the tables have wine on them. Gee. It’s like if you actually care about your customers and enjoy introducing them to new things in food and wine, it can make you a thriving success. Like, without the cynical price gouging price discrimination, with wine on 10% of the tables, customers less likely to come back as often or at all, etc.


My point about Round Up is that Monsanto has lost cases over its cancer causing issues, and the number is in the billions. It’s now baked in to generations of grains, fruits and vegetables from Monsanto’s seeds. People have food issues like never before. Coincidence? I think not. I’m gluten intolerant, and that only happened 4 years ago. I was fine my entire life.

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On the subject of wine on tap. Is it possible that the wine in the hoses can become oxidized?

I have on occasion ordered wine with an early lunch at a local chain and found it damaged, the replacement glass is usually fine. Anyone?

I used to use a Winekeeper system at home and the issue was generally limited to the little bit of wine inside the valve/tap mechanism. It simply required pouring off the first little bit of wine when coming back to that tap after some time out of use.

It was possible for bacteria to back up into the hoses but this required a long time without a pour (think weeks) that is highly unlikely to occur at a restaurant.

The issue that I find much more common, especially in the morning, is restaurants doing a poor job rinsing the line/tap components after the end of night cleaning. I get this on fountain soda all the time. A little bit of line cleaning solution will really make itself known in a drink.

I’m just pointing out that you noticed a grain of sand at the beach. There’s worse stuff all over in our foods and beverages. High levels of heavy metals in herbs and spices, with little correlation to quality of producer, for example.

With bread, the primary issue is rushed fermentation. You might find you have no problem with bread from a quality baker. Also, modern wheat is bred to be simple. I don’t have a problem with bread or pasta from artisan producers, but some large brands are awful. Just having that sense, I can easily stay away from bread and pasta that cause discomfort. Pizza is the wild card. That’s usually someone else treating at random not-local-to-me places, and some that seem to be decent quality I feel that lump in the stomach on the first slice. Others are a non-issue.

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