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When Buying Wine for Dummies is Smart

Of all the wine myths, legends, truisms, factoids and other bits of dubious information marauding as accepted fact, the one “You know what they say” bit of side of mouth “I heard …” wisdom that you can reliably believe is the fact that domestic Pinot Noir under $20 usually sucks like a Dyson.

In fact, buying a Pinot under $20 is pretty dumb, because reliably that wine is going to disappoint.

Unless, of course, it doesn’t disappoint—the point of this post.

Another “more true than not” truism in the world of wine is that it’s intimidating, hard to understand, difficult to penetrate and a complete grab bag of “hope and pray” when shopping at retail.  Of course, this is palpable reality for the wine uninitiated. 

However, in the “file under: Making Everything Easier” category, introducing the For Dummies Wine Collection.


The ubiquitous yellow and black attack, a brand that some say is as well known as Starbucks and Coca-Cola, with the goal of making the complex understandable, have licensed their brand to a savvy entrepreneur in Florida who is making significant progress in bringing a reliable hub of wine quality to retailers across the country.

Here is where I note my bias and appropriate disclosures.  My wife is an editor for Wiley Publishing, publisher of the “For Dummies” series of books.  However, she has nothing to do with the “For Dummies” wine books (much to my chagrin) and less than nothing to do with the organization’s brand licensing.  I happened across the “For Dummies” wine program at a local retailer.

Winner of the 2009 National Grocers Association “Top 3” new products at the 2009 convention, the Karadeci Group is an enterprising importer and distributor in the state of Florida exclusively dedicated to promoting a portfolio of wines via a “For Dummies” retail display.

With the “For Dummies” brand license for a wine program in place, the Karadeci Group made a call to tender for wines yielding 180 submissions, according to Ericca Robinson, Karadeci Group Director of Marketing.  Using a tasting panel with a range of palate experience and a goal to keep wine prices in the $8 - $15 range, 22 wines were selected representing an international mix of wines from Torrontés and Malbec to Merlot.

Working with individual state distributors as a complement to their operations in Florida, Karadeci and their Wine for Dummies Collection and display is currently in 10 states, mainly in the Southeast and the Midwest, with three states pending and the goal to grow to 44 states.

The program is simple – using elements of the well-recognized “For Dummies” brand, it’s a programmatic end-cap display, well merchandised with point-of-sale materials, a mobile marketing program and a curated selection of wines that varies by market.

The key to this program (in my estimation) isn’t necessarily the ability for a baffled wine shopper to have a brand point of reference from which to choose a wine, the key is quality in the wine for the price.  In order to make a marketing program successful it has to be underscored by quality and consistency with individual wineries and wine brands that jive with the “For Dummies” brand promise.

The Dummies brand isn’t predicated on the yellow and black cover or their mission of “Making Everything Easier” it’s predicated on reliable quality across thousands of different topics.  You pick up a “For Dummies” book and you know you’re going to get a high-quality survey of a topic, enough to make you “conversationally dangerous” with confidence.

The Karadeci Group have done a great job staying consistent with the “For Dummies” mission – identifying wines that are value-priced, representative of their varietal and high quality, with reliability.

And, according to Greg Blackman, Sales Manager at Cavalier Distributing in Indianapolis, IN, the program is working:

The displays are an effective “store within a store” concept acting like a silent wine expert to offer information on both the wine and appropriate food pairings.  Each display works as an educational tool for both the consumer and the account itself.  Bottom line, the goal is to take a complicated subject and simplify it, and that is what the “For Dummies” program does for wine.  It’s meant for that customer who wants to get the right quality, affordable wine and be educated and confident in (their) purchase.  The feedback has been great up to this point, and customers appreciate the education that this program offers.

One wine, in particular, the Pinot Noir from Sylvester Winery, priced at $12.99 in my market, is a stunning wine at price point – I drank ½ the bottle trying to talk myself out of thinking it was a fantastic wine at a fantastic price—it’s an under $20 Pinot that was darn good. 

The next time you hear an alleged piece of wine truth, something along the lines of, “Pinot’s under $20 are horrible” or “wine is hard to shop for” remember that sometimes buying wine “For Dummies” is a smart move and it’s coming to a retailer near you.

2007 Sylvester Vineyard & Winery Pinot Noir


Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (14) |


On 01/06, Richard wrote:

“The Karadeci Group have done a great job staying consistent with the “For Dummies” mission – identifying wines that are value-priced, representative of their varietal and high quality, with reliability.”

What a brilliant idea.  I’ll be looking for this in my local retailers.

On 01/06, @nectarwine wrote:

This is a fantastic idea. Anything that expands the appreciation and understanding of wine is okay by me.

I hope to see these pop up in our state soon.

Josh @nectarwine

On 01/06, VA Wine Diva wrote:

I’m always a bit scared of marketing gimmicks like this, but I am intrigued by the quality to price ratio that may be part of this.  I’ll be sure to keep an eye out both locally and in my travels.

On 01/06, Ed Thralls wrote:

I have not seen this display yet here in Atlanta, but very much agree with your thoughts on the “For Dummies” mission and value.

I am probably more intrigued with your(their) discovery of a nice Pinot for less than $25.  I will be looking out for this too.

On 01/06, Jeff wrote:

thanks for the comments, all.  I appreciate it.

Karadeci has the licensing rights to 44 states—I think a couple of control states like Utah and Pennsylvania are no-go’s as are states like Alaska and Hawaii—otherwise it should be popping up in markets—their placement will be based on the strength of the distributor they are working with.  I know they are in GA, based on what the marketing person told me.

VA Wine Diva—I’m likewise skeptical of gimmicks, but I think they wines are all solid to very good at attractive prices.  Ed, this pinot is $9 on the Sylvester web site—worth buying there for the value, for sure!

Thanks again, all!


On 01/07, Kevin Glowacki wrote:

Having read several (Wine, Champagne, French, Italian) of the Wine for Dummies books, I hope the quality of the wines selected will be as consistent as the brand.

I know retailers are always looking for new ways to engage and educate their wine customers, especially those who interested in buying something outside Woodbridge, Yellow Tail, KJ, J. Lohr and the other big brands.

I will be passing this along to a couple of retailers I know who might be interested in this concept in case they haven’t heard of it already.


On 01/07, 1WineDude wrote:

If they’re pickin’ good juice, then more power to ‘em.

On 01/07, Cinde wrote:

Truly “out of the box” thinking. Cross-tie promotions with unlikely partners are brilliant (if they work). It not only surprises your competition, it gives your brand the opportunity to sieze real estate in a new aisle of the store. Karadeci rocks…

On 01/07, Jeff wrote:

Hi Kevin—thanks for commenting.  Yes, I can tell you that A LOT of work goes into making sure the content in the For Dummies books are consistent to brand standards and excellent.  The key for Karadeci is ensuring no clunkers in the wine department.

Cinde—The folks at Karadeci come from out of industry—no surprise that their cross-promotional idea is “out of the box” because they haven’t been influenced by the wine business into thinking what “can’t be done.”


On 01/08, Alan Baker wrote:

As always Jeff, you framed this perfectly. It gets me thinking, why hasn’t some other influencer been able to do this store within a store idea successfully? I think people who know certain importers who have consistently good wines like Terry Theise get a helping hand when it comes to choosing wines. But why don’t we see more curated collections in wine stores?

Do the stores feel like it is their job to present quality selections? (my last trek through K&L shoots this idea down)

And now that I’m selling wine, I’d love to have the opportunity to get more educational information about the wines into stores. I wonder of the success of this program will make room for more information about the wines that are on the shelves?



On 01/17, Naturalpills wrote:

Excesive wine is for dumy , you should’ve said that!!

On 08/02, John Johnson wrote:

Florida international university is a hispanic seving school?
are people of different backgrounds allowed to atten this school?

On 01/10, contractor mortgages wrote:

More so, that list has a chronological component since users post their comments one after another, no mixing here… So, the choice for the HTML element we’ll use with comments is pretty obvious – we’re going with ordered list

On 09/27, Cartier bracelets wrote:

This is a fantastic idea. Anything that expands the appreciation and understanding of wine is okay by me.


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