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Red blends are coming on strong and an online resource can help you pick the best of the bunch
<p>Red blends are coming on strong, and an online resource can help you pick the best of the bunch.</p>

Where to find on-trend wine bargains online

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Help is here if you want to get your restaurant’s wine offerings in synch with current consumption trends. Results from the 2016 San Francisco International Wine Competition—4,618 wines, blind tasted and ranked by the industry’s top experts—are now posted online. The rankings are easily searchable by operators who want to locate great wines at favorable price points. 

Here are two examples of how you might use it.

Rosé wines, a summertime favorite, have been on a tear lately, with wholesale sales growing 31.8 percent in 2015, according to Beverage Dynamics. It’s a booming category at SFIWC, too. “Mirroring industry sales trends, rosé entries increased from 128 submissions in 2015 to 175 submissions this year,” the organization notes.

To find wines aimed at this sweet spot in the market, head to the San Francisco International Wine Competition’s website and perform a simple search. Apply two filters—“rosé” and “$1-$15”—and the site’s search function returns 59 options. 

One of them, D’Orsay, is a double gold medal winner from France priced at $13. Nine more wines won single gold medals; two of them wholesale at a remarkable $7 per bottle. 

There are also 20 silver medal winners and 29 wines that earned a bronze. Choices range from a 2015 silver medal-winning rosé from Mouton Cadet Bordeaux that costs $11 to a 2015 Prairie Blush from Wollersheim Winery  in Wisconsin. Also awarded a silver medal from the prestigious judging panel in the blind tasting, Prairie Blush goes for $10.

Perhaps you’re interested in building out your list of affordable red blends. Late 2015 figures from Nielsen indicate that red wine blends are coming on strong.

“While sales growth of the table wine sub-category over the past year (4.5 percent) is not insignificant given the overall size of this segment, a major opportunity has clearly blossomed for wine blends, with domestically produced red blends leading the way,” the company reports.

The red wine blend category has also become a confusing place to shop. Producers are releasing new red blends at a prodigious rate.

“No other wine type has even come close to the same amount of new offerings to market,” Nielsen reports. “Having a red blend in a wine supplier’s portfolio is almost a ‘must have’ these days, with consumers seeking them out.”

There’s an abundance of red wine blends to choose from, but the blind tasting panel from SFIWC has done most of the heavy lifting for you. Searching both premium non-Bordeaux blends and non-Bordeaux blends in the $1-$15 price category returns 77 options. Nineteen are bronze medal winners, 46 earned silvers, six took gold, five won double gold and the 2013 red blend from Adored was chosen best non-Bordeaux blend. Its price tag? $10.

Other bang-for-the buck bargains include four of the five double gold medal winners: Smoking Loon NV, ($9); Three Thieves 2014 ($8); Ancient Roots 2014 ($8); and Witching Hour 2014 ($8). Vin Vault, a NV red blend from E & J Gallo that sports a $5 price tag, took a silver.

Pickings are slim in the red Bordeaux blend category, with just 13 medal-winning wines priced at $15 or less. The standout—a double gold medal winner—is the 2013 Bordeaux Blend from College Cellars in Walla Walla, WA. It’s priced at $15. 

The SFIWC results are searchable for many other types of wine. Be sure to refer to this tool the next time you’re looking to revamp your wine list. Then check with your wine wholesaler to see which varieties they can bring in for you to try. 

Contact Bob Krummert: [email protected]

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