As I recovered from our triennial trek to Minnesota for a family reunion—our first with toddling twins in tow, I understood more fully why wine was invented: survival. While packing for the trip, I discovered a FlyWine mini bottle I’d received from a fellow attendee of the Wine Writers Symposium this winter. I stuffed the dainty bottle in my carry-on bag, certain I’d put it to use during our flight. Had I planned more thoroughly I would have procured several more to dole out to passengers at the first hint of turbocharged twin tantrums. You can only say “I’m sorry,” so many times; an offering of wine says what words can’t
These “travelers” weigh in at 100ML, the exact amount to be considered a TSA-friendly pour. My bottle, dubbed the “WingMan,” is packaged to look just like a real bottle of wine, only smaller. It’s marketed as an ideal stocking stuffer and picnicking wine replete with a kitschy, Top Gun-referncing catchphrase “the perfect ‘Goose’ to your ‘Mav.’”
The concept, beyond the nifty travel format, is to provide portable and palatable wines from Napa Valley winemakers, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. A mere 45 minutes into my flight, the WingMan proves its worth. For a moment, I worry that I have turned into my mother (infamous for stashing minis in her purse and popping them out at all the wrong moments), but as the twins rage across the aisle, I remember my mantra: survival.
I’ve since learned my gravitational pull to FlyWine might’ve been less about survival and more about female buying patterns. According to a study presented at this year’s Wine Market Council meeting, it was revealed that women are more open to innovative wine products. This year marked a first for the meeting, with results revealed from two new surveys dedicated to analysis of female drinking and purchasing patterns. In case we needed any more ammo to validate the importance of such studies, a slide informed attendees that of the $5.9 trillion that accounts for U.S. consumer spending, women are credited with racking up $4.3 trillion.
Women, it turns out, are more likely to be caught drinking and buying organic and sustainable wines and are also more inclined to plan ahead when it comes to buying wine. Sixty-six percent of women walk into a store knowing what wine they intend to purchase—no browsing required. When it comes to buying boxed wine, we’re even more “with it” in terms of planning, as 75 percent of such purchases are planned in advance. I was unclear on what attendees were supposed to glean from this fact, so I drew my own conclusion: When women entertain to the extreme, we aren’t above turning to alternative (and oftentimes thrifty) purchases—nut shelling once again that not only wine drinking, but buying, comes down to survival.
In the last couple of years, Moscato shot to superstar acclaim, wowing crowds the world over and even taking home the crown for one of the most “rapped” (musically speaking) about wines, despite being what some in our valley refer to as “less than worthy.” However, according to the Nielsen consumer beverage report, there’s a new queen bee poised to usurp the throne—Prosecco. The Italian bubbly delight saw a 34 percent increase in sales volume in comparison to Moscato, which only grew by 7 percent last year.
Rosé is also “on fire,” according to presenter Danny Brager, who shared that those priced at $11 or higher saw a 58 percent volume spike. He moved onto slides that detailed a new syndrome at play, what he dubbed “the battle for the next pour,” as contenders like Starbucks, retail book stores, movie theaters and even car wash outposts are wooing customers with a wine offering. This “fight” was perhaps best summed up by a quote from wine media personality Leslie Sbrocco, who closed the presentation with a catchy summation of the perfect pickle that is wine marketing circa 2016: “Every beverage is competing to be in my glass. It’s not enough to craft a great beer, cider, spirit or wine. To be my next ‘pour,’ you’d better know how to grab my attention, seduce me with your story, and make me feel like price doesn’t matter.”
It’s hard not to raise a glass (or pint-sized wine bottle) to that.
Cows grazing along hillsides and in seaside meadows are a picturesque and familiar sight in Marin and Sonoma counties. Dairy farms have been a local presence for more than 100 years, but thes...