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Rosé payola: The dirty industry secret behind your favorite restaurant’s crappy wine

Rosé payola: The dirty industry secret behind your favorite restaurant’s crappy wine
[Photo: Kaboompics .com/Pexels]

We’re in the dog days of summer when there’s nothing better than a chilled glass of pink-ish wine. And for the last few years, rosé has been the go-to summer drink for many an alcohol imbiber. However, the choices offered by many popular restaurants are just plain bad, and it turns out the reason you’re drinking them is because of the wine industry’s dark, deep-pocketed underbelly.

A spicy–dare I say tannic–article in Bon Appetit, written by the beverage director of a popular New York restaurant, describes the dirty world of bad rosé racketeering. In short, suppliers of mass-produced vaguely light-red-colored wines are paying restaurants and bars to feature their products. It’s wine payola–and it’s been duping us all.

BA writes that these “bulk wine” distributors are on the lookout for any hot restaurant that may be interested in featuring their bottles. These bad beverages feature cheap grapes grown en masse, with little personality, which use yeasts and chemicals to make them taste at all palatable.

The distributors pimping these vintages are supposedly going to great lengths to get their products in thousands of glasses. The article explains:

“They might stop by, drop off a business card, send an email, and hint that they’d make it worth your while to add their wine to the list. A lot of these deals span the gray area of ethics, from direct cash incentives to trips, dinners, sporting game tickets, complimentary product, etc. Anything to get an edge.”

Another tactic these producers employ is offering to print menus for restaurants in exchange for them featuring their wine. Others offer paid for DJs to drop into the spots that are, of course, also featuring the swill du jour. In short, there’s an underground economy of beverage directors and sommeliers giving up their palate and dignity to promote sour grape juice–all in the name of a few extra bucks.

You can read the full Bon Appetit story here.

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