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

  • c

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.


                1. I just had to look up wine product after bringing home a couple of bottles of "wine" from the supermarket in the town I am visiting in Mississippi. I thought it was strange that they only had a selection of two different brands of wine, but I just figured that folks in MS were just not wine people as the supermarket had a big selection of beer.

                  I got home, started dinner and opened the Cabernet Sauv to breathe :-) I knew right away something was up as I smelled the bottle after I opened it and it smelled like Kool-Aid. I then poured some into a glass and it looked like Rose. One taste and I picked up the bottle to look at the label and saw the words, wine product, which led me to Bing and thus Chowhound.

                  The taste is like what I would expect a Boones Farm to taste like; sweet, no flavor, etc. It was certainly not wine. I paid $6.59 a bottle for it too. So, I think I will pour it out as it isn't even something I could add to a sauce or make vinegar from.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Seesawgal

                    FYI, in certain states and counties grocers are not allowed to sell alcholic beverages with alcohol levels over a certain percentage. That's why you only saw beer and the dubious "wine product." Depending on your location, you would have needed to go to a liquor store or perhaps the next county over to find wine.

                    1. re: wanker

                      Thank God for California where you can buy lbeer and wine at the gas station!

                    2. re: Seesawgal

                      Well, part of that is correct. In very general terms, MS is not a wine epi-center.

                      Also, as of about '65, there was a county option for alcohol sales, and I am not sure what might have changed.

                      Now, when in my old "home state," I have to admit that I do not normally head to a grocery store for my wine. Matter of fact, I would normally bring it from New Orleans, and a vendor, like Martin's Wine Cellar.

                      Still not sure what "wine product," is but do not wish to sample it. That does not sound good, at least not to me.


                    3. but it pairs beautifully with Cheez Whiz and Velveeta-- you know, that "processed cheese food".


                      8 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        You beat me to my answer, which is "finally, there is a Wine Product that matches perfectly with Processed Cheese Food Product."

                        Second you on the Blergh comment. Sounds totally awful.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Well, if I recall the actual USDA label, those items are "official imitation cheese food products," so they are not actually "cheese food products," but "imitations." Hey, just how close must one be?


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Thanks, Bill.
                            Actually I want to stay as far away as possible from faux wine and fake cheese items.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              Yes, "arm's reach" would be about as close, as I would care to come.


                        2. re: sunshine842

                          I can see the "Near Merlot" going well with possum' too.

                          Remember, Near Merlot is not just for breakfast anymore!


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Or "possum on the half-shell", AKA armadillo.

                            1. re: Akitist

                              Now, in South Louisiana, we seldom saw armadillos alive - same for "possums." Almost all were dead on Hwy 90, so they were "sail critters... " We were too poor to have real FrisbeesĀ®.


                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                              Fricasee of squirrel with dandelion salad and almost-wine.

                          2. I see this thread is really old but I just found the same bottle left behind after a holiday party. What an odd product! I'm intrigued, amused and horrified all at the same time. I'm wondering if it's the 'cheese food' of alcohol.

                            1. This product screams, "I don't know a damn thing about wine, I ran out of time, and picked up this crap in the bodega around the corner." It also screams, "I'm not from NY and I don't understand where you can legally buy REAL wine and where I can't".
                              This has been brought in 2 gatherings that I've attended over the years and every single time I struggle to find the tact to explain that this is not wine. The last time, the person actually went around and poured into everyone's glass, and then looked on waiting for us to take a sip. I didn't touch the crap, recognizing this as bodega fare.
                              I hate this product with deep passion. I wish the NYT would just out this awful product, on the front pages with the headline: "Save yourself the $6.50: This crap is not Wine. Do not bring this to a party."

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hjdee

                                so don't be shy -- tell us how you really feel! :P

                                1. re: hjdee

                                  At least in NYC, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, it can't be sold in styrofoam cups in portions larger than 16 ounces.