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Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Sam Platt » Fri Jun 16, 2006 10:22 am

We held my daughter's high school graduation open house this past Sunday. A group of approximately 80, predominantly non-wine drinking guests attended. We offered beer, and wine in addition to soft drinks and finger foods. I purchased 4 bottles each of 5 different wines to serve at the party. I don't have the vintage info, or even the producer of one of the wines, which wasn't a factor in consumption anyway. I found the data on what our guests consumed interesting enough to share here, though I have no interpretation of the result, other than 'non-wine drinkers prefer sweet wines':

Moscato d' Asti - All 4 bottles gone within about 45 minutes with guests clamoring for more.
Trimbach Gewurztraminer (Very tasty!) - All 4 bottles consumed.
Trimbach Riesling (Kab, I think) - 3 1/3 bottles consumed.
Jadot Pinot Bourgogne - 1.5 bottles consumed
St. Francis Cab Sauv. (by far the most expensive offering) - 3/4 of a bottle consumed mostly by me. Saw one person make a face and dump a half glass in the sink!
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Howie Hart » Fri Jun 16, 2006 10:30 am

Sam Platt wrote: 'non-wine drinkers prefer sweet wines'

The other obvious conclusion you could draw from your observation is that non-wine drinkers prefer white to red.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Sam Platt » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:00 am

Howie Hart wrote: The other obvious conclusion you could draw from your observation is that non-wine drinkers prefer white to red.


Howie, I should have included a sweet red in my test matrix. My working hypothesis was that the Gewurz and the Cab would be the most popular. If my test population would have been wine geeks I still believe that my hypothesis would have been proven true. Unfortunately I let frivolity, friendship, and loyalty get in the way of solid experimental design. Darn all those friends and family anyhow! :)
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Redwinger » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:19 am

Sam Platt wrote:St. Francis Cab Sauv.... Saw one person make a face and dump a half glass in the sink!


Sam,
I don't recall being at the event, but this seems like a reasonable response. :lol:
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by James Roscoe » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:29 am

Bill
Are you saying the St. Francis Cab. is that bad? I don't think I've tried it, but if someone else is buying, I'don't think I'm pouring it down the sink.
Cheers!
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Redwinger » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:38 am

James Roscoe wrote:Bill
Are you saying the St. Francis Cab. is that bad? I don't think I've tried it, but if someone else is buying, I'don't think I'm pouring it down the sink.
Cheers!
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James,
Bad? Probably not, as many people, including Sam, seem to like it just fine...and that's OK. I have not tried their Cabernet for 4 or 5 years, but they always were more than a bit overdone with the charred oak for my tastes.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Tim York » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:46 am

Were not the Trimbach wines dry? Very low residual sugar is the house style, although it is rare nowadays to find a really dry Gewurztramer.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:56 am

Sam Platt wrote:I found the data on what our guests consumed interesting enough to share here, though I have no interpretation of the result, other than 'non-wine drinkers prefer sweet wines':


Not long ago, I helped a friend choose the wines for her wedding reception, 252 people worth and sprinkled with quite a few food and wine geeks. Here's the damage:

NV Gruet Brut sparkler: 57 bottles consumed
2005 Monkey Bay SB: 23 bottles
2004 Fetzer 'Valley Oaks' Chardonnay: 22 bottles
2004 Woop Woop Shiraz: 53 bottles

Now, geography can't play much of a role, as we don't live more than 60 miles apart, so it must be the food and wine geek quotient that results in the different outcome. It's also worth noting that a friend of mine who had experience catering wines for special events predicted that the guests would consume between 1/2 and 2/3 of a bottle per person, which is what they did, and said that consumption patterns in weddings run something like 40% sparkling, 35% white and 25% red. As you can see, he was pretty close.

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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Sam Platt » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:15 pm

Bill wrote:James,
Bad? Probably not, as many people, including Sam, seem to like it just fine...and that's OK. I have not tried their Cabernet for 4 or 5 years, but they always were more than a bit overdone with the charred oak for my tastes.
BP

Bill, not overoaked at all ('03 vintage, I think). Dark fruit and berry, spice and some oak in the background. Quite full bodied with a nice nose. One of my favorites at the $22 price point. You might want to give it another go.

Tim York wrote:Were not the Trimbach wines dry? Very low residual sugar is the house style, although it is rare nowadays to find a really dry Gewurztramer.


Tim, The Gewurz was typical of the Trimbach style. Very nicely balanced and not overtly sweet, but definitely toward the sweeter end of the wines we offered. The comments I heard were along the line of "this wine is different than anything I've tasted, but it's really good". I had to write the name of both the Gewurz and the Moscato for several people so that they could purchase it for themselves. One guest ask me if I could write down the "Gee-whiz-tamer" for her. :)
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Redwinger » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:25 pm

Sam Platt wrote:Bill, not overoaked at all ('03 vintage, I think). Dark fruit and berry, spice and some oak in the background. Quite full bodied with a nice nose. One of my favorites at the $22 price point. You might want to give it another go.


Sam,
If we have any of the '03 laying around the shop, I just might throw it into the Saturday tasting line-up. I would be quite happy if their house style has changed. Anyone know if they have changed winemakers recently?
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by James Roscoe » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:32 pm

At $22 it sounds like a nice wine. I will have to look for it when I head to my BAWS tomorrow.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Hoke » Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:29 pm

Redwinger wrote:
Sam Platt wrote:Bill, not overoaked at all ('03 vintage, I think). Dark fruit and berry, spice and some oak in the background. Quite full bodied with a nice nose. One of my favorites at the $22 price point. You might want to give it another go.


Sam,
If we have any of the '03 laying around the shop, I just might throw it into the Saturday tasting line-up. I would be quite happy if their house style has changed. Anyone know if they have changed winemakers recently?
Curly


I think you'll find the St. Francis hasn't changed a whole lot from what you remember. Their style is still what you described. I believe what we're dealing with here is different preferences in wine, Bill. Sam likes the St. Francis house style. You don't. And their house style is still pretty much the same as it was.

It'll be interesting to see your response though.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Hoke » Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:36 pm

Mark:

That's actually a pretty interesting breakdown of wines there.

My first takeaway is the impressive showing of SB against Chardonnay---in the not too recent past, you'd never see any white wine challenging Chardonnay. But that's changing. And you can't put it down to egregious overoaking, because the '04 Valley Oaks Chard isn't. It's just that Chardonnay doesn't have the dominance it used to, and SB has really gained (with Pinot Grigo having gained significantly more, of course).

And that's really a higher incidence of red consumption than I would've thought...unless you had a white wine glass and a red wine glass out at the same time, then it fits a little better.

The selection also points up the universality/globalized nature of wine these days, doesn't it? Especially in the modest price categories. Lot of good, decent, cleanly made wines out there, from all over the world. And that's a good thing!
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by JC (NC) » Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:58 pm

I love the Gee-whiz-tamer designation for Gewurztraminer!
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:45 pm

Hoke wrote:Mark:

That's actually a pretty interesting breakdown of wines there.


I thought so, too, as did the bride, enough so that she actually noted down the consumption numbers.

My first takeaway is the impressive showing of SB against Chardonnay---in the not too recent past, you'd never see any white wine challenging Chardonnay. But that's changing. And you can't put it down to egregious overoaking, because the '04 Valley Oaks Chard isn't. It's just that Chardonnay doesn't have the dominance it used to, and SB has really gained (with Pinot Grigo having gained significantly more, of course).


Yup. A number of the local guests have converted over the past few years to NZ SB as their "go to" white, often courtesy of yours truly :) OTOH, the bride's favorite white is now Grüner Veltliner and the groom's is Muscadet (both a result of wines I opened for them), so we're dealing with a rather atypical assortment of people.

And that's really a higher incidence of red consumption than I would've thought...unless you had a white wine glass and a red wine glass out at the same time, then it fits a little better.


Nope, just one glass. I too was surprised at the amount of red wine consumed, but that's again a reflection of a number of "red only" winos at the event. I also think that the bubbly probably competes with white wine for some people.

The selection also points up the universality/globalized nature of wine these days, doesn't it? Especially in the modest price categories. Lot of good, decent, cleanly made wines out there, from all over the world. And that's a good thing!


Yup. That lineup was arrived at from a series of blind tastings Jean and I subjected ourselves to in which we examined under-$10 offerings available in our market. As you can see, though, we stacked the deck by limiting ourselves to Chardonnay and Shiraz and putting the Gruet and Monkey Bay in by exective fiat.

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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Sam Platt » Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:56 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:NV Gruet Brut sparkler: 57 bottles consumed
2005 Monkey Bay SB: 23 bottles
2004 Fetzer 'Valley Oaks' Chardonnay: 22 bottles
2004 Woop Woop Shiraz: 53 bottles


Mark, The only thing that really surprises me is the high percentage of red wine consumption. I assume that you served a full meal while we just offered finger foods. Friends who own a liquor store tell me that the Monkey Bay SB is their biggest selling SB. I purposefully did not offer a Chardonnay out of fear that no one would try anything else. Also of note is that beer was the favored drink at our party by about a 2 to 1 margin.

Bill wrote:If we have any of the '03 laying around the shop, I just might throw it into the Saturday tasting line-up. I would be quite happy if their house style has changed. Anyone know if they have changed winemakers recently?


Bill, If you have a chance to taste the St. Francis let us know if it is the same as you remember. Can you suggest an American Cab ($20-$30) that you prefer to compare and contrast to it?
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Dan Donahue » Fri Jun 16, 2006 4:10 pm

Sam--I'm not Bill, I'm not a big cab fan and I haven't tired this yet; so I'm not sure why I jumping in here but......a retailer I trust talked me into buying some '99 Marcelina Vineyards Cab that is going for around $20. Hope that helps.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Redwinger » Fri Jun 16, 2006 4:35 pm

Sam Platt wrote:Bill, If you have a chance to taste the St. Francis let us know if it is the same as you remember. Can you suggest an American Cab ($20-$30) that you prefer to compare and contrast to it?


Sam, I will post my thoughts on the St Francis if I get a chance to taste it tomorrow. I'm probably not an expert on $20-$30 Cabernets as I've usually been disappointed with most of those those that I've tasted in that price range. Add to this the fact the only reason I drink more than 1 or 2 bottles of Cabernet a year is that the lovely NJ loves Cabernet and I am smart enough to recgnize certain sacrifices must be made. Actually, your question would make an excellent subject for a new thread. Quickly off the top of my head, here are some under $30 Cabernets we've enjoyed over the last year or two:

Leal Cabernet (San Benito area of California) ~$25. In fact, their Syrah and the Rhone blend are even better IMO.

Steltzner Claret. OK it is a blend and retails for ~ $17. This tends to be a bit woody for me, but I can tolerate it.

Los Vascos Reserve at ~$19. The 2003 is damn nice, and the 2002 if you can still find some is even better.

Louis Martini Sonoma (~$12) and the Napa (~$20) are pretty solid/serviceable.

Sequoia Grove is nice also, but IIRC is pushing the $30 threshold.

Bill

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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Redwinger » Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:11 am

Sam Platt wrote:Bill, If you have a chance to taste the St. Francis let us know if it is the same as you remember. Can you suggest an American Cab ($20-$30) that you prefer to compare and contrast to it?


Tasted the St. Francis Cab. alongside some Sequoia Grove yesterday. FWIW, here are my impressions since it was pretty hectic and I really didn't get as much time to spend with the wines as I would have liked.

2002 St. Francis Cabernet Sonoma)
Very dark and extracted. Almost inky black in the glass. The nose was a bit one dimensional with a core of black fruit and a whiff of toasty vanilla oak. These qualities carried through on the palate. The wine finished well and had enough structure to lay down for a couple of years. I'm not sure it will gain comlexity, but the tannins might mellow just a bit. About $19 in these parts.

2002 Sequioia Grove Cabernet (Napa)
Another extracted Cabernet. The nose and palate demonstrated more complexity IMO than the St Francis. Dark cherries, mint, licorice and cassis in a somewhat fruit forward package. The finish was long and complex. Yes, fruit forward on entry and a nice solid finish, but the wine comes up deficient in the mid-palate...big hole! Perhaps it will fill out in time, but I doubt this will be a wine I'd want to age more than 3 or 4 years. Priced at $24.

I revisited the wines after they had been open 5 or 6 hours and by that time the tannins had become unpleasantly grainy/chewy on both the St Francis and Sequoia Grove.

During the course of the day a number of geeks and non-geeks had had a chance to sample both wines and I tried to solicit their preference(s) between the two Cabs. Among the non-geeks, it split about 50/50. Among the geeks it was a 2/1 preference for the SG.

The very surprise for me was the 2004 Drouhin Chablis that was also opened. This is their basic/entry level Chablis and it was a delight for the $18 asking price. Crisp/refreshing acidity and minerality framing lemon/citrus fruit. This is probably not a Chabis to lay down for 5 or 10 years, but it is drinking damn fine right now and there's nothing wrong with that. $19.

Disclaimer: I sell these wine to people.

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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Otto » Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:13 pm

Your guests have good taste: Trimbach rocks! But do they really make a Riesling Kab??? ;)

And I agree that the Gewurz (and Pinot Gris) are very Trimbachy despite being a bit sweet: they still have a mineral austerity to them.
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Sam Platt » Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:21 pm

Bill,

Thanks for sharing your notes on the St. Francis Cab. In general I would agree with your assessment although I think there is a nice, even interesting interplay between the dark fruit/berry and the spice. I usually drink it right up, so wasn't too concerned about aging. I will give the Sequioia Grove a try. I've eyeballed it on several occaisons, but never picked one up. BTW, I concur on the Los Vascos. I've purchased it on several occasions and always found it to be soundly made and tasty. I think I migrated to it in the first place due to the Rothschild tie-in.

Otto wrote:Trimbach rocks! But do they really make a Riesling Kab???


Otto, I spent about five minutes looking at the Trimbach website trying to figure out the Riesling designation before asking my wife. She started chuckling at the question, but I remained clueless. She finally had to explained why my question made no sense. Duh!
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Re: Wines preferred by non-wine drinkers - data point

by Mark S » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:05 pm

Not sure how representative a social sub-group represents the population-at-large, as wine consumption at my own wedding 2 years ago had people actually prefer the own better wine. I had a pinot grigio from the Veneto and a Savigny-les-Beaune. A case left of the italian, and only 5 bottles left of the burgundy :cry: Of course, 3/4 of the people were non-wine drinkers for the most part and only a couple of tables were going through multiple bottles, so this might have had some skewing effect :wink:

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