Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Old wine in new bags

You can usually get an idea of where BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch is going to go by observing where Ontario’s LCBO has already been: In the Toronto Star this morning comes a quick glimpse of the highs and lows of our collective tetra-pack future, as the LCBO test-flew about 75 alternately-packaged wines for the press.

The charm of The Star’s Gordon Stimmel’s enological thesaurus aside, (“the weak-kneed French Rabbit Chardonnay; the barnyardy Kressmann Rouge; the dishraggy Black Tower Pinot Noir; the cooked, rhubarb-flavoured Billy Goat Hill Merlot; the pruney, unkissable Red Lips Shiraz….”) what floats to the top of the bucket isn’t really news: The better bagged wines come from the people who are already giving us good wine in a bottle; the crummier offerings are mostly already available in a bottle on a shelf near you.

The LCBO gives Ontario consumers about a 10% price break on the new vs. old packaging, but don’t count on that happening in BC: The LDB is notorious for passing higher costs on and pocketing discounts made possible by producer markdowns themselves. When the new products arrive in BC Liquor Stores, the substance of their ad campaign will likely be “A New Way to Litter!”

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