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Jun 22, 2009 07:04 PM

"Wine Product": Is it a strange and horrible new phenomenon?

Over the weekend, we had an impromptu party when a bunch of our buddies dropped by unexpectedly. After they all left, we discovered a mysterious bottle left behind on the counter labeled:

"Chateau Diana
"California Merlot"
... and then in small, faint lettering: "wine product"

It looks like wine, it's in a nice-looking green bottle with all the usual insignias intended to convey class. Not knowing the true nature of the beast (we stopped reading at California Merlot), we opened it to have with dinner, tonight... Aye carumba. It was *dreadful*, really one of the most offputting comestibles that has crossed my lips in years.

The ingredients include "French table wine", water, sugar, juice concentrate and other things that shouldn't be in wine.

My long-winded question is this: How long have such abominations been around for... and really, WHY? I've been a wine lush for many years and never even seen this stuff in stores. Wine coolers are a different ballgame since they aren't packaged and marketed like wines to unsuspecting consumers. This "wine product" evidently has pretensions of being wine, complete as it is with the back label description of the "winemakers" who went to California "with a dream of starting their own family winery." I don't consider myself a purist at all, but this stuff just seems so deeply wrong in so many ways!

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  1. take a look at this:

    as far as i can tell, "wine product" is similar to something like Boone's Farm...or a non-carbonated wine cooler in a wine bottle.


    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      With Boone's, at least you know what you're getting with the light pink berry flavors in clear bottles.... and believe it or not, Boone's actually tastes better than this stuff. :)

      I signed the petition!!

    2. I don't know what the deal is in other states, but I've seen this stuff in delis and supermarkets in NYC, which is odd, because it's illegal to sell wine in those locations in NY State. I'm guessing that because it's a "wine product" it somehow gets around these regulations. This may be related to the fact that it's got only 6% alcohol, or less than half as much as you'd find in a real bottle of wine.

      I've never tasted it, but I'd beware of any wine sold at the corner deli, and even more wary of a wine that claims to be CA Merlot but lists French table wine as an *ingredient*!

      5 Replies
      1. re: oolah

        Oolah, you're right. This stuff was from Barzini's, which usually sells fancy beers (and fruit + groceries). I think one of our friends went out during the middle of the party "to get some air" and attempted to help us replenish our dwindling wine supply. Very sweet gesture! At 2 a.m., who's going to read the fine print?

        1. re: oolah

          I've also seen Chateau Diana in many delis in NY, but nowhere else. NY has archaic liquor laws that only allow wine and spirits to be sold in specialized stores. I always assumed Chateau Diana was watered down wine which was just beneath the alcohol % to be considered wine. Didn't know about the sugar. Do they actually use real sugar? Why not corn syrup!

          1. re: shane

            >>Do they actually use real sugar? Why not corn syrup!

            y'know, i'm sort of tempted to write them and ask!

            1. re: shane

              I believe the reason Chateau Diana is sold in delis and non-liquor stores in NYC is that it's non-alcoholic, and therefore, OK to sell in a deli. Or at least, it has LESS alcohol. Which is why it tastes terrible, also.

              That also is why they add a bunch of crap to it, I think - to try and make it taste vaguely like the real thing, of which alcohol is kinda the key ingredient :)

              1. re: jonasblank

                I've tossed the bottle by now, but I think I remember it being about 6% alcohol -- about the same as (or just a smidgen more than) many beers sold in the U.S. It's not necessarily the lack of alcohol that makes this such an abomination, it's the flavor: far too sweet, with the type of bitterness and barnyard you get from really fourth rate wines.

          2. Just add club soda volia, a wine spritzer!

            1 Reply
            1. re: cstr

              That is indeed what happened to the glass I'd already poured. The rest went into sangria, that ready dump for all my second, third, fourth and fifth rate wine products. :)

            2. yes, clearly the makers of this stuff belong in a cell w/ Bernie Madoff and 10 violent meth-addled bikers...

              i reminder once when i was staying in a hotel, and i went out in search of a bottle to buy and bring back to the room, finding a bottle of this same poison and narrowly avoided buying it because i happened to read the fine-print while waiting in line...

              1. Fortunately, I have not crossed paths with this stuff, and will attempt to not do so.

                Remember that the fruit juice, ethanol and water blend has been around for decades, regardless of what it is called.

                At the end of the day, it's all about taste and little else.