business news in context, analysis with attitude

There was a fascinating piece on the website yesterday that looked at the tricks employed by winemakers to improve the quality of a vast number of wines.

“Trick No. 1 is something called Mega Purple,” the report says. “Not figuratively literally. Produced by the same company that gave us Manischewitz, Mega Purple is a grape concentrate that adds fruit and color to red wine. You’ve surely consumed it. Winemakers use an estimated 10,000 gallons of the stuff every year—because only a tiny amount is needed to fix an entire barrel, Mega Purple is probably being added to over 25 million bottles of wine annually.”

The story suggests that adding Mega Purple to wine could be considered akin to baseball players using steroids – what people are drinking may taste good, but it hasn’t been arrived at through methods that would be considered traditional. And the question is whether somehow consumers are being duped, sold something that isn’t quite what they are being told it is.

“Creating deliciousness from the raw ingredients of nature is the calling of the winemaker,” the report says. “You cannot fault him for using every tool in the toolbox to make the best possible wine. However, the race to gain popularity with the wine-drinking public and higher ratings from Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate has forced winemakers from around the world to all use the same set of tools. This road ends at a paradox: Never have there been so many good-tasting wines, and never have so many of them tasted so much alike.”
KC's View:
I’m not sure this is exactly like the lowest common denominator product development that afflicts so much of our culture, but it is, to be honest, uncomfortably close.