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Monday, August 19, 2013

Wine For Dummies - Marketing Gone Wild?

Wine For Dummies - Marketing Gone Wild?
Find out if this is an unfortunate extension of an iconic brand or the real deal.

Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from California; Chianti and Pinot Grigio from Italy.

All four wines have an SRP of $10 and are available for $9. Samples submitted for review. (Unfortunately the Cabernet Sauvignon was damaged in shipping so we weren't able to review that one.)

When I first mentioned these new releases on the Reverse Wine Snob Facebook page a few weeks back, I received quite a mixed reaction (see below). Some were appalled at the "soulless wine marketing" while others were quite eager to give them a try. Much of the negativity came from people who assume a wine that is just a brand (without a vineyard) can't possibly be good. The fact of the matter is that this wine is made like so many in the 21st century wine world -- by sourcing grapes or even finished wine from all the world. Heck, even many high end wineries don't grow their own grapes so I'm not sure why this is a surprise to anyone.


And in the case of today's wine, further scrutiny shows these concerns don't appear to have a leg to stand on. The back label of the Pinot Grigio and Chianti reveal that the wines are made by FN Wines in Prato, Italy. A little research shows that FN stands for Fratelli Nistri, a very old family owned winery in Tuscany that dates back to 1865. They appear to make wine for many including the Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio we previously recommended as well as sell wine under their own Fratelli Nistri, Prode Cavaliere and Campi Salti labels among others.

And really, let's be clear -- these wines are directed at new, and perhaps intimidated wine drinkers. As you'll see in the reviews below, I found them to be very nice, drinkable representations of each variety. My opinion is that if these wines can get a white-wine-only drinker to try a red wine, or better yet a non-wine drinker to start exploring the wonderful world of wine, that's a great thing!

Here at The Reverse Wine Snob we're for anything that takes the intimidation out of wine and helps to open it up to a larger market. Don't think there's a need for these wines? Take note that the Wine For Dummies book, which was first published in 1995, is on its 5th edition and has more than 1 million copies in print. (Not to mention the countless millions of books sold in the rest of the series.)

The great thing about these wines is that I can guarantee you a good chunk of the people who begin with Wine For Dummies will "graduate" onto many other wines they likely would have never considered if not for that first step. Just think back to the wines that began your own exploration -- I'm guessing most of you don't drink those same wines very often today, if at all, but they still served a wonderful purpose didn't they?

Really my only criticism of the wines is that the information on the label is pretty sparse. For a brand that is setting out to educate consumers I'd like to see a bit more info. There's a QR code that takes you to a dedicated website, but currently there isn't any additional information. I'm hopeful that's just a matter of timing in that these wines were just recently released and more info will be forthcoming soon. (I mean they have a whole book to pull info from, don't they?)

2012 Wine For Dummies Pinot Grigio
In any case, with all that out of the way let's get to the wine! First up is the 2012 Wines For Dummies Pinot Grigio from delle Venezie, Italy.

From the bottle:
"In Italy, food comes first, and the wine follows the food (we tend to follow both). This bright, golden-green Pinot Grigio has crowd-pleasing crisp apple and citrus flavors. Note: Unlike that second plate of pasta, this wine won't stain your shirt!

12.0% Alcohol"
The 2012 Wines For Dummies Pinot Grigio begins with a pleasant aroma of apple and citrus. Tasting the wine reveals an easy drinking crowd pleaser and a nice example of the variety. I was prepared for a really watered down mess but this wine is actually pretty good with zesty and tangy flavors, although it could use a bit more acidity.

See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 7              Cost Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 7.3



2011 Wine For Dummies Chianti
Next up is the 2011 Wines For Dummies Chianti from Tuscany, Italy.

From the bottle:
"Never been to Tuscany? Andiamo — let's go! Sit back and slurp spaghetti with our soft and succulent Chianti. This classic wine tastes of cherries and, just like us all, becomes more interesting as the meal proceeds. So, Salute (you deserve it)!

13.0% Alcohol"
The 2011 Wines For Dummies Chianti is very aromatic with classic Chianti aromas of slightly sour cherry. The wine tastes quite nice and is true to form being a bit rustic like a good Chianti should be. You'll find more sour cherry flavors and a bit of spice that flows nicely into the medium-long finish. Very drinkable and my favorite of the bunch.

See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 7              Cost Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 7.3



2011 Wine For Dummies Chardonnay
Lastly we have the 2011 Wines For Dummies Chardonnay from California.

From the bottle:
"Wines reflect their people, and this all-American wine is bright, outgoing, and versatile. Given that we love to dress down, we don't use an oak process, but you still get great taste. This wine is fresh fruit and sunshine in a bottle, ready for cocktail hour, dinner hour, or this hour. What're you waiting for?

13.0% Alcohol"
The 2011 Wines For Dummies Chardonnay begins with aromas of lemon, melon and apple. The wine tastes nice and crisp with lots of fruit. This is not an oaky or buttery Chardonnay, although there is a bit of nice vanilla cream. It ends with some tasty zesty lemon on the finish. A very nice example of an unoaked Chardonnay.

See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 7              Cost Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 7.3



My verdict: These wines are the real deal. Bravo Wine For Dummies!


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