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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

“Terroir…Is that a dog?”

September 11th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing for Wine News in “The Decanter” Chris Mercer reports that: “From planet ‘Sauternes’ to those cute ‘terroir’ dogs, a new survey in the UK suggests Britons have room for improvement in their wine knowledge – but many say they are keen to learn. Wine experts have grappled with a definition of ‘terroir’ for decades, but more than one in four Britons surveyed thought that it referred to a small breed of dog, according to results published this week.”

The correct definition of terroir is, the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as soil, topography, and climate. Chris Mercer further reports that; “While 34% did correctly connect ‘terroir’ to wine, another 30% of respondents believed it was a type of French horror film.” Their answers were part of a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) ahead of its upcoming Wine Education Week, which runs globally from September 9th to the 15th.

Perhaps my favorite detail of the survey was that there was also confusion about Bordeaux’s premier sweet wines. Mercer writes that: “Seven percent of people said that Sauternes was a planet, while one in five thought it was a beach resort and 29% argued that it was a type of orange.” And he goes on to observe that: “When it comes to spotting a corked wine, 37% of people thought it meant broken pieces of cork in the bottle and 7% thought it was a term for being drunk.” However, 51% of people said they wanted to learn more about wine, reflecting a separate survey recently that saw wine beat beer, cider and spirits as the UK’s favorite drink. When it comes to food, 28% of those surveyed said they had successfully paired specific wines with certain dishes. However, 55% said that they wouldn’t know where to start with wine and food pairing. And 17% of respondents said that they had been ‘traumatized by snooty wine waiters’, said WSET. The top reason for choosing a wine was “I had drunk it before and loved it,” with 34% choosing this description — closely followed by 33% admitting they choose a wine based on an “attractive label.”

Speaking of attractive, here at Skolnik Industries, you can’t miss noticing our stainless steel wine barrels. They are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

The First International Canned Wine Competition

August 13th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In an article featured in the “Wine Industry Advisor” Robert Whitley writes about the first International Canned Wine Competition (ICWC) held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, on July 24, in California. He reports that the best line of the event was uttered by Handley Cellars winemaker Randy Schock, who was among the judges evaluating the more than 200 entries at the July 24 event. Schock said tasting the canned wines made him “think about how to approach winemaking outside of the bottle.”

Whitley goes on to write that: “At a time when growth in wine sales across the United States has slowed to a crawl (year-to-year sales last year managed a meager 1 percent increase), the industry is looking for the next big thing. Canned wine, which delivers both ease of portability and convenience, could be the ticket.”

All that’s holding back the full embrace of wines in a can is perception. That’s where the International Canned Wine Competition steps in. The results, with 37 gold medal winners from the 200-plus entries, are a strong indication that the industry has overcome some of the early issues surrounding canned wine. Whitley explains that: “Current production techniques utilize a lining inside the can that eliminates the possibility of a metallic taste interfering with flavor and overall balance. And quality is good to very good, meaning wineries aren’t simply diverting the wines they’ve rejected from their bottled blends into can production.”

There are now about 400 wineries producing 900-plus canned wine products, according to organizers of the ICWC, with more to come as acceptance spreads. The competition attracted wines from Italy, Spain, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand as well as a number of wines from across the United States. Benmarl Winery of New York, for example, earned three gold medals, as did Leelanau Cellars of Michigan. Traditionalists may cringe at the thought of fine wine from a can, but we’ve seen that act before. There was resistance almost 20 years ago when domestic wineries began to use screw-cap closures for many premium wines. Oh, the horrors! Never mind that Australian and New Zealand wineries made the switch years earlier with little or no downside.

Today, many consumers go out of their way to purchase screw-cap wines, particularly white wines, rather than those with traditional cork closures. There is no downside in terms of taste, so the purchasing decision often comes down to convenience. I don’t know that wines in a can will go through the same evolution with consumers, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Here at Skolnik Industries, you can bet on our stainless steel wine barrels. They are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Wine Wars

July 16th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the escalating trade war that threatens the world economy, wine is a minor skirmish at most. But it has its own list of casualties — especially vineyards in the U.S., and drinkers in China with a taste for their product. Writing in the Bloomberg newsletter, “Terms of Trade”, Ryan Haar writes: “U.S. President Donald Trump has raged at Europeans for taxing American wine out of their markets. Chinese tariffs have sent the price of a Californian red soaring in Beijing. Even the apparently unrelated question of Boeing’s competition with Airbus could have fallout for wine-drinkers who, in various parts of the world, have had to get used to higher prices.” Here’s a roundup of wine-trade news:

China

China has slapped three rounds of tariffs on American wine in little more than a year, with the latest one coming into effect at the start of June, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy group for Californian producers. That’s having a sharp impact on prices in what’s become the fastest-growing major wine market in the world. Honig Vineyard & Winery, based in Napa, California, has been exporting to China since 2007. Before the trade war escalated in 2018, “a bottle of the Cabernet would cost around $50 in our tasting room and about $70 in China,” says Stephanie Honig, director of communications and exports. Three rounds of tariffs later, the Beijing price has gone up to $170 — assuming you can find it. Honig, which exported 1,000 cases to China in 2016, says the number fell to zero last year. The wine industry in California has taken “terrific hits,” Mike Thompson, a congressman from the state, told U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a House hearing this month. “We are at a disadvantage when competitors are paying zero percent.”

Europe

Ryan Haar goes on to write that: “Trump isn’t at all happy about the terms of American wine trade with Europe, where the world’s biggest exporters are found — and he’s been stepping up his complaints since November. Trump’s threat to retaliate with matching U.S. tariffs also forms part of a much bigger trade argument: the one involving plane-makers Boeing and Airbus. As the dispute escalates, both the U.S. and Europe have drawn up lists of goods that they’ll target with tariffs, and wine is on the American version.” “The only linkage alcohol has with planes is that it’s served on planes,” said Robert Tobiassen, President of the National Association of Beverage Importers. “This injures consumers.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, we buy domestic carbon and stainless steel, and carefully monitor the growing impact of the tariffs. Note that our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

Selling Wine in the “Delivery Economy”

June 11th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Instacart. UberEats. Grubhub. Zifty. Postmates, Amazon Fresh….

Apps like these have added convenience to everyday retail experiences, outsourcing third-party delivery beyond pizza and Chinese takeout, to grocery stores and local restaurants. Meanwhile, ready-to-cook meal delivery companies including Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are thriving as customers become more accustomed to ordering products of every type remotely. Larry Cormier, general manager, of ShipCompliant by Sovos writes about this trend in the “Wine Industry Advisor”: “The “delivery economy” has upended consumer expectations for seamless at-home consumption. Younger buyers, particularly Millennials, now anticipate that businesses will cater to their desire for on-demand delivery options – and that trend is being felt by the wine industry, too.

In 2018, wine drinkers overall spent a record $3 billion on direct shipments from wineries, a 50 percent increase since 2015, according to the 2019 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report from Sovos and Wines Vines Analytics.” Larry goes on to observe that: “All of this increased demand for home wine delivery has introduced new competitive threats. In many states, wineries face new pressure from independent wine clubs, meal delivery companies, grocery stores and online liquor stores all seeking to uncork this growing trend. And with a Supreme Court decision expected this summer that could loosen regulations restricting interstate wine shipments, the competitive landscape for direct wine sales could soon get a lot more crowded.” Larry urges wineries to invest in the digital experience: “Whereas older generations may have looked to a particular critic or publication for recommendations on wine, Millennials want to hear directly from the label. They want the story behind the vineyard, the founders, the wine-making process, and the type of grape in front of them. They want to hear from producers and sommeliers about what makes their soon-to-be-favorite bottle of wine special. The good news is most wineries are already experienced in telling their stories.”

In the past, tasting rooms and wine clubs, often tied to smaller wineries, were responsible for much of the direct-to-consumer channel’s organic growth. The challenge is simply translating that experience to a wider audience who might not have the time or money to visit Napa Valley, for example. Larry notes that: “Social media, notably Instagram, is the most obvious way wineries can extend the tasting room experience online. It is a direct line of communication with consumers to tell the sort of behind-the-scenes story that can forge a lasting, personal connection.” With a strong economy, 2018 saw the largest average price-per-bottle increase since 2011 for the direct-to-consumer channel. Customers were also more willing to open their wallets for wines priced at $100 or more, which increased by 18 percent in volume compared to 2017.

In summary, Larry writes that: “The “delivery economy” is pushing up consumer expectations for what they’re buying, especially for high-end purchases, and that extends to packaging and labeling decisions. To stand out not just against other vineyards but also wine clubs and meal delivery companies, producers need to get creative with the stories they are telling from cart to home. Last year, 10 percent of all domestic off-premise retail wine sales were shipped directly to consumers. As this channel continues to grow, another way wineries can stand out and create personalized experiences is by changing up their product offerings to direct customers. By investing now to cater to their buying preferences for convenience and personalized experiences, wine producers can capture a larger share of the Millennial market and the growing direct-to-consumer market.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, we believe that making and delivering the right wine barrel should be easy. Our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.