Spoofilation to the max

End of Western civilization all over again? Article in today’s NYT

about spoofilation for the mass market. By a somm, no less. Read it and weep.

Ignore the Snobs, Drink the Cheap, Delicious Wine

Like the Swedish Fish Oreos or Dinamita Doritos engineered by flavor experts at snack food companies, many mass-market wines are designed by sensory scientists with the help of data-driven focus groups and dozens of additives that can, say, enhance a wine’s purple hue or add a mocha taste. The goal is to turn wine into an everyday beverage with the broad appeal of beer or soda.

When Treasury Wine Estates, one of the world’s largest wine conglomerates, invited me to California for a rare view into how its inexpensive offerings are — in industry parlance — “created from the consumer backwards,” I was prepared to be appalled. Researchers who’d worked with Treasury spoke of wine “development” as if it were software or face cream. That seemed like a bad sign.

Then I learned Treasury had parted from the tried-and-true method of making wine, in which expert vintners create bottles that satisfy their vision of quality. Instead, amateurs’ tastes were shaping the flavors.

as you might expect

When I sipped the wines that Ms. Mikawa gave her panel to try, I was reminded of root beer with a splash of Hershey’s syrup and vodka. The wines were rich, syrupy and heavy.

edited to fix link–I hope!

That link leads to an ad. Here’s the correct NY Times link.

I can see the future…

Welcome the 2021 “The Prisoner” hard grape drink…a divinely flavored malt beverage.

John, your link is also going to same ad… not sure why.

Try this:

GAH, not sure why it’s not working. Google instead:

Well, damn. You’re right.

You can click through to the story, I see now. Never had that happen with the Times before. And I’m a friggin’ subscriber!

“But the more I WAS PAID, the more I accepted these unnatural wines as one more way to satisfy drinkers and even create new connoisseurs.”

I kid, I kid. Not a true quote.

Thanks John! I fixed it, I hope–tho there seems to be some kind of cookie thing going on, if you get an add go to the NYT website and search “snobs” (use sorting by date) and you’ll find it.

Maybe not a quote, but could well be true! In any case, what I find most interesting–or should I say upsetting–is the emphasis on pleasing the mass market rather than looking for quality.

This article is about many things that bother the **** out of me. lol.


Mainstream tastes are the death of quality.

Perhaps we should reverse engineer everything from the lowest common denominator and see where that gets mankind.

I would create things called reality shows, and the people on those shows would become rich, famous, and powerful.


Do you really think there’s less high quality wine produced because there’s engineered mass market wine out there? I don’t. The two can and do coexist quite easily. They’re intended for different groups, and I know for a fact that a LOT of people who drink those wines don’t particularly like most of the wines that people like us drink. Making them aware that “high quality” wine exists doesn’t change their minds on whether or not they’d care to drink it at any price, let alone spend the kind of money that it needs to cost. Many of the people drinking the mass market stuff would likely be drinking something other than wine if their wines of choice (or at least that style) didn’t exist. I love wine, especially wine that can somehow convey a sense of place, and I absolutely detest the way a lot of the mass market or otherwise “engineered” wines taste, but I have no problem with their existence.

I understand what he is saying about newbies but I think you can make fruity wines that people like, but arent spoofy.

We often have happy hours at work and people bring in wine. These arent wine snobs but I’ve found people LOVE the wines I bring in that are more restrained. I dont make fun of the wines people bring it, but generally people wont drink the spoofy bottles (Yellowtail, barefoot, Apothic, etc) until all else is gone.

I’m and oldster and remember drinking wine out of a jug, Gallo, Cribari. It wasn’t until I meet my future wife just back from a summer in France and Spain that I started drinking wines out of a bottle and reading about European wines. CA wines were just entering the fine wine scene and a few wine makers were drifting north. We have come a long way from those days. Most of our foodie friends consider $15-20 on the higher end and if I told them I spent $40 on a bottle, they would think I needed professional help. I do not eat engineered food nor drink engineered beverages, but that just makes me a geek. Fortunately there is a market for what we enjoy and suppliers to fill the need. [cheers.gif]

When Treasury Wine Estates, one of the world’s largest wine conglomerates, paid me


When I sipped the wines that Ms. Mikawa gave her panel to try, I was reminded of root beer with a splash of Hershey’s syrup and vodka. The wines were rich, syrupy and heavy. And I felt my soul departing with each swallow.


The goal is to turn wine into an everyday beverage with the broad appeal of beer or soda.

Wine has been around for longer than either of those two things. I wouldn’t say it lacks broad appeal.

I am okay with arguments that say this kind of technology is a necessity - decent box wine has been great for the mass market. I’m not okay with arguments that try to turn this kind of work into a virtue.

Yeah, but then then they can never be the cool kid. [whistle.gif]

Love the article, especially her tone. Many would write this with a condescending air bit I felt she didn’t.

And as I’ve said before, please don’t think that the additives and techniques discussed only happen at larger wineries - they happen at plentry of 'boutique ’ ones as well. Disclosure is not necessary . . .


I think most people would be floored at the amount of “spoofing” that goes on at their favorite high end winery…

That famous biblical phrase could be changed to say “He that makes wine without “spoofing”…let him cast the first stone.”

In college, I drank gallon after gallon of white zin from jugs with handles on them. And you know what? I liked the way it tasted and the way it made me feel. So at that time, for me, Sutter Home was good wine.

And because I “liked wine,” I didn’t say no to a glass of Santa Rita something or other red plonk that a hot girl offered me on Spring Break with some bread and cheese. It was different (red instead of pink), but I started liking it on the second glass.

Then I had something better. And so on…

Fast forward twenty years and I have nice cellar in my basement housing some of the best made reds in the world.

All this is to say that if, before I began my love affair with ooey gooey confected Sutter Home at 19, someone had passed me a glass of Chave Hermitage I may not have liked it and decided wine wasn’t for me. And I may have gone through life as a beer and bourbon guy.

Some of you may have “gotten it” right away. Good for you. I didn’t. Wine was (and continues to be) an incremental journey for me.

If red fakery in a bottle is the beginning of a life long progressive love affair with wine for someone, isn’t that a good thing? And even if it isn’t objectively “good,” does the cheat at entry somehow make the eventual appreciation of quality less authentic and therefore something to be scoffed at? And if it that love affair fails to progress beyond confectioner’s wine but in it someone finds something in this science project that they like drinking, who gives a rat’s ass?

Why anybody gets worked up about what beverage some company makes or the people that enjoy it boggles my mind.

Worst case scenario, the wine drinking public starts drinking more of this and less Left Bank Bordeaux allowing the EP prices to dip below $300. Who loses?

Drink what you want. Leave the other guy alone. You’ll both be happier for it.