That Walmart wine is the wine equivalent of cheese food

wine product at walmartAfter stumbling across what looked like a wine display in the World's Largest Walmart, Emily emailed with what we can only imagine was some distress:

Walmart wine? Did some law get passed that I missed?

The short answer: no.

The longer answer is... uh... tacky.

wine product at walmart label

As you well know, New York State prohibits the sale of wine in supermarkets. There have been a few pushes during the last few years to change the law, but they haven't gotten very far. And it doesn't appear to be a priority for the Cuomo admin (he seems like more of beer drinker, anyway). Yes, this law is rather absurd. But it is the law. [State of Politics]

OK, then what the hell is Walmart selling?

The "Marlborough Hills Chardonnay" on sale there is a "wine product" -- and it's pretty much as bad as it sounds. Here's how the NYS Liquor Authority defines the category:

[A] "wine product" is defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as "wine coolers").

So, a "wine product" is sort of like the "cheese food" of the alcohol world. And under New York State law, this concoction is allowed to be sold in supermarkets. (There are a bunch of products registered as "wine products" with the SLA.)

Bad, right? CNN's Eatocracy, which called wine products "indefensible," described the version it tried as "cheap table wine diluted with water, sugar, juice concentrate and desperation."

Another tip-off this stuff is not what it first appears to be: the stuff at Walmart is "Bottled by Marlborough Vineyards Bayonne, N.J. USA." What? You didn't know Bayonne is renowned for its vineyards?

The whole situation is made worse by the fact that this stuff is allowed to be sold with names most people would only associate with actual wine. In fact, the Washington Ave Ext Walmart currently has "Chardonnay," "Cabernet Sauvignon," and "Rose." There's a campaign to make it illegal for wine product to be sold with a wine variety designation.

In other states, Walmart does sell (actual) wine. It's even experimented with an automated, breathalyzer-equipped wine kiosk that it could use to sell wine in states where it's not allowed. [Engadget]

Earlier on AOA: The biggest Wal-Mart EVER... is in Albany?

Comments

Walgreens sells this same "wine product"...

My local bodega sells this stuff too, and I've always wondered how they were able to skirt the wine-in-supermarket law. Thanks!!

Oh man... call me a wine snob, but I much prefer that my wine come from places whose continent starts with Eu and ends with rope. :) That being said, there are many wonderful new world wines which I am not as big a fan of, but are still great.

I only think I would wish this "wine product" on my worst enemies. Maybe. If I was really angry. Really, really angry. And possibly drunk... Nah... just angry. :)

I think we need--nay, DESERVE--an AOA "wine product" taste-testing experiment. You can even do "wine product" and "cheese food" pairings, if you want to get REALLY crazy.

Wine product. Cheese product. Meat product. Fruit product. Dairy product. This kind of rampant fakery is disgraceful.

I never knew I had it so good growing up in Missouri where one could purchase wine and spirits while buying bread and tampons. The former was priced competitively and would be included in occasional sales. NY state liquor stores seem so pricey and rarely is there a special on something I actually want. The "wine product" above sounds horrible and the name makes me think of cigarettes!

Andy, I promise you can't tell the difference between a world class old world wine and a world class new world wine, so why be a snob about it?

Glad to know the answer to this. Not that I would've bought it anyways, but now I know to stay faaar far away.

Thanks!

I will stick to cheap but real wine, thanks.

@Ike You can thank Robert Parker for that. But in all seriousness, it depends on the region. Nobody in the U.S. makes a gewurztraminer like the Alsacians. And I've never tasted anything made in America that is remotely similar to the Pauillac from Chateau Lynch-Bages (I had the '95).

That said, having been on the AOA Four Loko tasting panel, I would welcome the opportunity to sample these "wine products" for the sake of science.

I saw wine in Walgreens the other day and was wondering the same thing....

I really want to "Favorite" the suggestion by SiobhanGK. WineProduct, CheeseProduct parings. Brilliant.

Come on people, it's simply repackaged wine coolers. Same sugary trick, different label. Just like Champale back in the 80's...Ov vey, what a headache producer!

@James at 44, that's exactly what I was thinking. It sounds like a headache in a bottle. They should run a Wine Product/Advil promo.

OK..that explains it! Saw it at Shop Rite. Thought some legislation had been passed I wasn't aware of and that there would be a chance the new Trader Joe's would be carrying the two Buck Chuck..hopes dashed but at least now I have an answer..

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