This month, we are digging into the real world of food and wine, exploring and sometimes exposing the food we eat and the wine we drink in his four On Legitimate Food & Wine blogs. Don’t miss part 3, coming next Monday.
Like most consumers I buy a fair amount of wine at the supermarket. As much as I like drinking our own stuff, I like to explore and try new brands and varieties.
After spending some time looking at labels and trying to make some decisions, I’ll get a few bottles and off I go. I bet most of you do the same thing. The challenge is that the variety is bewildering (hundreds of labels) and the information is vague. Where are these wines made? Who made them? Are the grapes really Cabernet, or whatever?
So it was a big surprise to see a study that shows that over half the supermarket wine labels are owned by just three companies! Further, it turns out there are over 1,000 firms that distribute their wine (meaning they sell it to a liquor store, supermarket or restaurant), but more than 50% of all wine is sold by the same three companies: Gallo, The Wine Group and Constellation.
We don’t mean to say anything about the quality of their wines and brands. That’s for you to decide. But in my opinion, most of us would like to know that Liberty Creek, or Red Bicyclette are really Gallo brands. Nothing on the label would give you that information, and if you go to their website – redbicyclette.com – it looks like it’s a cute little French company. Nothing in the website shows any connection with the giants from Modesto. Would you like to be informed that Napa River is made by Bronco, proud owners of Two Buck Chuck? Of course!
The same can be said for the other four companies shown here.
Look as much as you want in the brand websites, you’ll realize these big guys do not want to let you see who they are. Why? For a more complete picture of who owns what check this cool interactive map of the industry, found here.
These weird business practices are not limited to large companies. Turns out plenty of smaller “wineries” buy most their wine from processors, large or small, and simply slap a sticker on the bottle. Should you care? If you do let us know.
Cheers and see you at the winery,