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Jun 6, 2013 01:05 PM

Top 20 wine brands in the US at retail -- Gallo and Constellation account for 50%+

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  1. No surprise on top 20. Some terrible wines represented. I am surprised Columbia Crest is not represented as it is better than all of the brands except Chateau Ste. Michelle which is same ownership.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wineglas1

      Chateau Ste. Michelle is what introduced me to Riesling and Gewurztraminer. I still find them very quaffable - definitely not swamp water - though a pale imitation to what a complex Riesling can be.

      I find La Crema's chardonnay as well to be a very drinkable chard - much better than some that are double the price.

      I have yet to taste a Barefoot or Sutter home wine I like. Franzia is great for making Sangria - I don't think I've ever tried it straight.

    2. No surprises there. Those companies are going after the "mass market," and are sold heavily in grocery and drug stores throughout the US.

      Much on that list I describe as "swamp water."

      1. Three words: lowest common denominator.


        1. Say what you will, wine snobs and I am a wine snob too today, if not for Gallo we probably wouldn't be drinking great California wines today. I look forward to drinking a few of them on my annual visit in July, and I think we're visiting Iron Horse too - haven't been there in at least 25 years.

          And didn't I get started on Gallo Hearty Burgundy?

          Yes, I did.

          8 Replies
          1. re: collioure

            I think Ernest & Julio were responsible for introducing a lot of us to wine...for which they get the kudos for expanding the wine market.

            But they're training wheels, to be sure.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Just curious . . . when was the last time you tried (e.g.) Gallo Family Sonoma Cabernet or Clarendon Hills or Edna Valley Vineyards Chardonnay or . . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                Gallo Sonoma are frequently quite good. EVV is nearly always good value.

                1. re: zin1953

                  I still prefer to drink French wines (always have) -- but I was just thinking this afternoon that I'm guessing that in 1975, Gallo was considerably more than 50% of the US retail market...

                  ...and that the calibre of what's sitting on the grocery shelf today is head and shoulders above what was there in 1975.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    You make a great point. With extensive portfolios, there can be some very good wines in there.

                    Back when Gina Gallo was involved (do not know if she still is) with Gallo Sonoma, there WERE some good wines there. Same for EVV, but cannot recall having the CH wines.

                    OTOH, those select options are usually overshadowed by many other wines. Same for the Sutter-Home portfolio (fewer gems, IMHO), and then Kendall-Jackson (more at the upper-end of things).

                    The impression that many consumers can have, will often be skewed by some of the lesser wines.

                    As for who introduced whom to wine, well that might vary by the individual. Still, many contributions, whether from S-H White Zin, back when, to whatever.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Do you remember the mid 70s when Sutter Home white zin was actually quite good?

                      1. re: kagemusha49

                        we at least *believed* it was quite good....I wonder if it really was!

                        1. re: kagemusha49

                          Well, I am with Sunshine on that one - but it DID introduce a lot of folk to wine, and probably contributed to saving a lot of Zinfandel vines, that the bankers wanted to tear up - so there IS a legacy there.


                2. I can say with complete honesty that most people who buy those wines are not everyday wine drinkers. Case in point, I had a lovely dinner for Easter where I invited all of my family and some friends for a large dinner of Roasted Lamb Leg, Spiral Ham and all of the trimmings, I asked every guest to just bring either a bottle of wine, or a small dessert. ALL of my family and friends brought wines I would not cook with, Arbor Mist strawberry something, 3 buck chuck, and one brought a box… yes a box of wine. To someone like myself, who drinks wine on a daily basis, takes meticulous notes at a tasting and has over 100 bottles in a rotational storage because I have become fascinated with the subtle differences in every grape varietal and vineyard it just boggles my mind that someone would think a $3 bottle of wine is something that you should bring to a dinner party where the host has spent over $400 on the food. I am by NO means a wine snob, I drink wines in the $12-$24 range. But I cannot believe what people think is appropriate to bring as a gift, or to share with friends. Wine is an art form, and those wines are graffiti.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    A great friend hosts a lovely Passover Seder, and had the same problem, that you describe. He now will not accept any wines from the guest - myself excluded from that ban. He finds a good, value-priced set of whites and reds, and those are for the "masses." I bring a half-dozen wines, and arrive early. We normally are deeply into those, by the time that any of the other guests arrive, and then he opens up the Seder wine, still holding my bottles off to the side, for just a few, who will know, and appreciate the differences.

                    When I host large parties, I normally have three levels of wines: good wines (available to all), fine wines (available with a secret handshake) and great wines (available with both the handshake and a password). That way, I do not see the general audience mixing Dr Pepper with the Ch. Latour 70!

                    Years ago, we would attend a great Polish Christmas party. I would bring 4 - 6 bottles of wine. The "masses" would descent, like locusts on a wheat field, drink ALL of my wine, and leave the Franzia. I cannot recall EVER having even one glass of my wine!

                    Such is life,


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Anybody with an ounce of sense would know who brings the good stuff.

                      1. re: jock

                        Yeah, and they picked ME out as the pawn - the pawn with the "good stuff... "


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        "When I host large parties, I normally have three levels of wines: good wines (available to all), fine wines (available with a secret handshake) and great wines (available with both the handshake and a password). "

                        Nice update on the "Nixon Protocol"

                        1. re: jock

                          Though I lived through those days, I was unaware that Richard Nixon used my protocol. IMHO, that is not a bad way to do it.

                          When hosting, I also usually have some "special" Scotch Whiskeys, though I would not know most from another. The same principle applies - the 30 & 50 Macallan ONLY go to those, with both the secret password, AND handshake. If one is not wearing their Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, they drink the blended stuff - no exceptions!