Wine Superstore

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Wine Superstore

by Michael O’Brien

The concept of a wine superstore is relatively new. For centuries, wine has maintained an aura of respectability and even elitism. The image of well heeled diners sipping a vintage varietal has been replaced by everyday folks enjoying their favorite wine alone or with a complimentary food. In some cases, the venerable cork stopper has been replaced by synthetic materials and even screw tops once reserved for cheap pop wines.

In short, the wine market has taken somewhat of a pedestrian turn into greater selection and more competitive pricing. This development is a boon to wine drinkers who want to enjoy a quality, good tasting wine without the expense of pricey labels.

Even though the Italians, French and Spanish still dominate the world wine market, quality wines from other regions have gained wide acceptance among even the discriminating wine drinkers. Wines from Chile, Australia and even China are gaining market share while helping to create what can only described as a worldwide wine superstore.

The advent of internet wine sales has expanded the selection and influenced the price of wine and wine products. From retailers to wineries, the trend towards offering products online is thought by many people who follow the wine industry to be the future of wine sales.

Wineries that once relied solely on traditional channels of distribution are offering wine products over their websites often with a great deal of success. Using a practice called direct shipping, wine producers are able to sell what they products at near wholesale prices. State alcohol laws often serve as barriers to direct shipping but many of these restrictions are being challenged by the wine industry. Acting proactively and with an eye towards increased revenue, more states are updating liquor laws that in some cases date back a century or more.

Americans are adopting a more casual attitude towards wine. We have broken down the stereotypical image of the effete wine snob and embraced many of the benefits associated with moderate wine consumption. In European and Mediterranean cultures, the moderate consumption of wine is a staple part of the diet even for older children. The result has been somewhat decreased incidences of heart disease, obesity and other ailments that currently plague some areas of the United States.

Many doctors are advising patients to consume red wine on a daily basis. It is important to point out that doctors are not advocating downing a bottle of merlot every evening but the conventional medical advice stresses moderation, with perhaps a glass of red wine over dinner. Several studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine can aid digestion and has cardiovascular benefits.

It is only in the last decade that Americans have embraced the health benefits of moderate wine consumption. During the early part of the 20th Century, Americans were embroiled in a social and moral debate over the use of alcoholic beverages. The move to ban or otherwise curtail the use of alcohol had its roots among certain religious sects and social conservatives. Dating back the mid eighteen hundreds, hard liquor was the primary target of prohibition. From 1920 until 1933 the sale, transportation and production of alcoholic beverages was banned in the United States.

In the post Prohibition period, the California wine industry was surging, as more acres where devoted to cultivating grape vines. The northern part of the state provided an excellent growing environment for wine grapes and the growth of the California wine industry paralleled a growing acceptance of wine consumption among folks of modest means.