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Friday, 10 April 2015
Beringer's New Wine Strips a Tease!
A new wine "tasting" experience makes W. Blake Gray think of baseball cards and fascists.
Who needs to drink wine when you can have a flavor strip?
Beringer last week introduced an innovative means of – in theory –
sampling its wines' flavors: a thin, edible film. The idea is that women
shopping for groceries will dissolve the film on their tongues and
decide: "I need a wine that tastes just like baseball-card bubble gum!"
The tiny films are individually wrapped and displayed on store
shelves next to Beringer's wines. They come in three flavors:
Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and White Zinfandel. They are, sadly, non-alcoholic.
The ingredients are hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (frequently found
in eyedrops), pullulan (found in other edible films, such as breath
fresheners), sucrose (aka sugar), hydrogenated castor oil (a brittle wax
made from a natural laxative that's more commonly found in cosmetics)
and "flavor". That last one is where the magic happens! It makes you
wonder how the ingredients on a bottle of White Zinfandel would read if wineries were forced to list them.
In looking up the ingredients, I discovered Mussolini's Blackshirts
tortured people by force-feeding them castor oil. The strips aren't
anywhere near that bad, assuming you have a sweet tooth.
My wife and I both liked the White Zinfandel best, though neither of
us thought it tasted anything like wine. She didn't grow up eating the
dry bubble gum that came with baseball cards, so she said: "If this was a
peach-flavored gummi bear, I would eat it."
The Chardonnay flavor
came closest to my previous experiences with Beringer wines. It was
mostly lemony, quite sweet in the beginning but less so on the finish,
with a plasticky aftertaste.
The Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like Concord
grape candy, before the plastic flavor kicks in. On the finish it
tastes a little like wine, but Concord wine. I can see where this might
work if people think they want Cabernet but what they really want is Mogen David. My wife said: "If wine tastes like this, why would I drink it?"
Beringer would be disappointed by her reaction, which points out in
its introduction to the flavor strips that "94 percent of women say
sampling is more effective than advertising". We can't really argue with
that, but is this truly sampling?
"We are tremendously proud of the research that has gone into what we
know will be a category-changing addition," Tammy Ackerman, senior
brand manager for Beringer said in a press release. "This is the type of
innovation you would expect from a significant brand such as Beringer."
Currently the flavor strips are available in retail chain Krogers in
20 states, but Beringer has big plans to roll them out nationwide.
Mussolini also had big plans.