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Go Ask Alice!

Last summer, when I first got word of a sugar-free wine sweetened with Splenda coming from an Indiana winery, I ignored the mention in the newspaper hoping it would go away.

Little did I know at the time that Alice Feiring would start to become my natural wine political bellwether on the far right.  I can play Jon Stewart’s liberal leaning independent to Alice and her far-right wine leanings.  After all, Indiana is home to many wineries making a sweet cordial style wine, many that I enjoy as a pleasant quaff, especially a fruit wine like cherry or blueberry, good to drink while you are making dinner during the dog days of summer, not unlike the Blueberry Stout beer I drank during the Super Bowl, but skewed for seasonality.

At the time, I hoped that a wine that actually includes a sugar-like but sugar-free substitute would die its rightful death next to the Atkins Diet in the graveyard of bad ideas and I would not have to piddle with any real outrage.

Not the case.

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Chateau Thomas Winery, based on the outskirts of Indianapolis, who along with fellow native son Oliver Winery, have done a lot of good for the Indiana wine industry, has collaborated with Vinoshipper.com to nationally ship their Slender series of wine, switching from Splenda to another sugar substitute called Zerose.

From the press release on the wire today from Vinoshipper.com (excerpted):

VinoShipper.com announces that it now sells Chateau Thomas Winery’s three “Slender” wines, the world’s only naturally-sweetened, sugar-free wines. Sweetened by Zerose® , a natural non-caloric sweetener, Chateau Thomas Winery’s Slender® White, Slender® Blush, and Slender® Red can be enjoyed by those who, in the words of the winery, “can’t or don’t want sugar.”

Windsor, Calif. (PRWEB) February 3, 2009—Love wine but the sugar in it doesn’t love you? VinoShipper.com announces that it now sells Chateau Thomas Winery’s three “Slender” wines, the world’s only naturally-sweetened, sugar-free wines. Chateau Thomas’s Slender® White, Slender® Blush, and Slender® Red are sweetened by Zerose® , a natural non-caloric sweetener. In the words of the winery, “These three wines can be enjoyed by those who can’t or don’t want sugar.”

I should note that Zerose is made by those noted agricultural do-gooder’s, Cargill, who have played a role in deforestation of the rain forests to make room for soybean production when they aren’t producing chickens in a manner that would (allegedly) make your stomach turn.

I have a problem with this Slender wine on a number of fronts, but first some context – the #1 wine sold in the states is a sweet wine made from concord grapes—it sells by the pallet at Sam’s Club and is stocked in every major liquor store in the state. If that is your thing, it is an enjoyable wine.  I have to believe that the vast majority of this wine is sold to women.  However, the downside to this #1 selling wine in the state is there are a rash of imitators and every winery in the state has their variation of the sweet red.

It would appear that Chateau Thomas is taking this a step further by trying to siphon off some of that sales mojo by introducing a series of sweet wines that are sugar-free.  These wines are made from Muscat and Rubired (a hybrid that is primarily used in concentrate), and apparently fermented dry and then have the sugar substitute added back in.

Here is the rub – Chateau Thomas makes nice vinifera wine—normal merlots, Cabs, and wine that you would expect from a winery proper and wine that I would serve to guests.

Because of Chateau Thomas’ award-winning regional pedigree, it makes it all the more difficult for me to reconcile. 

Consider:

1)  The amounts of residual sugar in a cordial style wine or even a dessert style wine are really negliable in the grand scheme of things
2)  Educating a customer to expand their palate to dry wines takes an equal amount of effort as pandering to their cola-induced palate

There are host of issues related to this sugar-free substitute in wine offering, the least of which is the disdain I have for bad gimmicks in the wine marketing.

To me, I would rather have a rash of koala bears and kangaroos on labels then see a sugar-free substitute be dumped into a “diet” wine.

Overall, it just seems like this kind of thing sets back the natural order of the wine universe back a quantum period of time.

Am I over reacting in an age of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Arbor Mist, or this a legitimate cause for uprising because of the pox it places on legitimate wine in the marketplace?

Or, rather than my wrath, maybe we should go ask Alice …



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Posted in, Wine: A Business Doing Pleasure. Permalink | Comments (7) |


Comments

On 02/03, Marty wrote:

As a fellow Hoosier:

Don’t even get me started.

On 02/03, Dirty wrote:

Wow-  You had me at ZEROSE!

The amazing thing-  Is that there is a market for this stuff.

On 02/04, mydailywine wrote:

Well, the majority of all wine, dry or sweet, is bought by women. Most retailers average sales that are 65% female consumers. Not that the men aren’t drinking their share of wine, but women still continue to do more of the household shopping.
But I am a southern girl and am familiar with the now fading popularity of sweet fruit wines.
The older generation of my own family, both uncles and aunts, liked a glass of Texas made blackberry or peach wine occasionally.
But sugar free wine? Scared to think who the demographic is…...

On 02/06, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

A question…
Can you tell us what the percentages are, with regards to calories, from sugar and from alcohol?  It is my understanding that most of the calories in wine are found in the alcohol, not in the residual sugars.

On 02/12, Acai Berry wrote:

I never even thought about a sugar substitute in wine.

On 05/19, Acai wrote:

Splenda in wine? Sounds kinda nasty, but I guess you really never know until you try it!

On 08/01, toryburchsale wrote:

Can you tell us what the percentages are, with regards to calories, from sugar and from alcohol?  It is my understanding that most of the calories in wine are found in the alcohol, not in the residual sugars


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