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Innovation in The Wine Industry, Again

Okay, I’ll take the bait.  I can be taken in by a clever pr campaign.

Last week I received a bit of a teaser campaign in three parts.  I suspect several of my wine blogging colleagues received the same packages—an anonymously sent picture of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with a hang tag note that that says, “Matched Perfectly.”  A couple of days later I received two aces from a deck of cards with a hang tag note again noting, “Matched Perfectly.”  Finally, a day later comes a bottle of wine from Riddling Bros., a marketing firm that has created a spec. wine package and positioning called “Goes With Cellars …”

If my research is correct, the lead principal, Fred Schwartz, is an advertising agency vet with his own company, Fred & Company, which provides creative and strategic consulting to the wine industry.

It’s interesting then to note that the concept of “Goes With Cellars …” is virtually identical to that of “Wine that Loves …” Many bloggers will recall the surge of P.R. that followed the introduction of “Wine that Loves …” in the spring of this year.  Many bloggers had an opinion that wavered somewhere between indifference to derision, but then, we’re not the audience, either.

The concept is simple, and in having conversations with Tracy Gardner, the principal for the Amazing Food Wine Company, the umbrella organization for “Wine that Loves …” it’s genius in its simplicity.  Taking a page from the concept of Blue Ocean strategy whereby research is conducted to find uncontested market space and then executing a product strategy to address that unfulfilled demand, the “Wine that loves …” and “Goes With Cellars …” concept simply creates wine that does not have any varietal, appellation or country of origin information, but is matched to the food that it would be served with; food that is commonly eaten by a wide swath of Americans like grilled steak, grilled salmon, pasta, roasted chicken, etc.

From a practical perspective, it makes perfect sense—most wine is consumed the same day it is purchased, and usually it is purchased at the grocery store when other dinner provisions are being picked up.  Why wouldn’t this be a good idea?

I now also have full context on why Tracy, in my conversations with him via work with my employer, was incredibly secretive—secretive to the extent that I initially thought him a bit paranoid.  He apparently knew what I wasn’t thinking about—a good idea will be quickly replicated.

Besides the idea flying in the face of wine enthusiasts for whom knowledge and esoterica is stock in trade, I suspect this concept in its original form with “Wine that Loves …” and its secondary form, “Goes With Cellars …” has a tremendous opportunity in the market.

Goes With Cellars appears to be targeting a more finite audience with more specificity in its wine—Beef:  Peppercorn Steak with an associated recipe whereas “Wine that Loves …” is broader with just simply, “Grilled Steak.”

Anybody that thinks that both of these concepts are fads that will meet a timely death would do well to recall a publishing phenomenon started a decade ago called the, “For Dummies …” series.  These are general reference books aimed at a broad audience that were quickly copied in the market by a host of competitors including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide.”  Both of these series were initially met with a lot of resistance from the intelligentsia and academians who derided the “dumbing down” of information in such a crass, pandering format.

There are a lot of parallels between our wine scenario and this publishing scenario, and 10 years later we know the outcome and success of the book publishing opportunity.  The “For Dummies …” brand is now, by many estimates, as recognizable as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonald’s.

Time will tell which of these wine concepts becomes the “For Dummies …” of the wine world, but I suspect one will.


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (8) |


On 11/22, Anthony Nicalo wrote:

Interesting story, Jeff. There is definitely a demand for these wines. But it is not because the broad audience is in need of a dummies guide. In this case, it is the intelligentsia that is missing the boat. Tasting, pontificating and scoring wine without food is the contrivance. Wine is food. Wine makes food taste better. Food makes wine taste better. All wine should be shared around a table, not scored in a competition. If the “broad audience” makes these wines a success, it is only because like to drink wine when they eat.

On 11/23, Jill wrote:

You think the wine that pairs well with veal is smaller production than that which pairs well with pasta, given that fewer people probably eat the former than eat the latter?

I have no issue marketing wine as food friendly, but this is too reductive and specific. Though I don’t agree with their classifications and simple way of doing things completely, at least Best Cellars and Wine Styles is a bit more broad in their categories.

On 11/24, el jefe wrote:

This last week we have gone the tiresome exercise of “what wine goes with turkey?”

Fact is, almost any wine goes with Thanksgiving turkey.

The problem I have with “this wine goes with Pork” is that there are so many ways to prepare Pork (or anything else). A Sauv Blanc might be great with *this* Pork, while a Petite Sirah is perfect with *that* Pork. The “Goes With” concept might be a right step - but seven menus seem awfully limiting… what happens when I run out of calamari?

On 11/29, swirlingnotions wrote:

I just commented on this on Wine Scamp’s blog last night saying I have to give these guys kudos for their creativity (Blue Ocean Strategy was my favorite book in business school and I’ve been surprised, frankly, that more people in the wine industry haven’t tried more innovative approaches).

The wine industry is maturing and the competition is tougher than it’s ever been. Whether I like the wine or not (I haven’t tried it yet), I think the approach is brilliant).

On 07/16, hinduja wrote:

Very good article, i can find all the good and delicious wines right here. I guess there are many demands for these wines and also they are little wealthy too,lolz…

On 07/28, petition wrote:

Did anyone see that video where they gave a blind taste test to wine “experts” and they chose the crappy wine as being the best one? lol

On 08/01, ram wrote:

I have no issue marketing wine as food friendly, but this is too reductive and specific. Though I donít agree with their classifications and simple way of doing things completely, at least Best Cellars and Wine Styles is a bit more broad in their categories.

On 09/07, Kim Da Cook wrote:

I have to say that as much I as I drink wine preferably white wines as I am still trying to acquire the taste for red, and it does take some getting used to, I think that I need that book for wine dummies not that I am saying that I am a dummy but maybe this will help me try different wines as I seem to stick to the ones that I know instead of trying something new.


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