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On the concept and reality of 'hammer-wines'

Thursday, December 31, 2009

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the New York Wine Expo.  While there, I wound up working a table for an importer contact of mine, but the wines being presented weren't the best wines in his portfolio.  However, what attracted people most of all were the labels and the label name.  In fact, he hit it on the money in regards to a label name which people would look at as fun and would have an inclination to easily purchase a glass [if they were out in a bar] or a bottle [if they were in a store].

But what was more phenomenal was that their New York distributor called the wine a "hammer" wine, which was something that I never heard of.  Her definition of a hammer wine was one that people just drink to get hammered, or drunk.  And then, I realized that there is a whole market for that.  Of course, we normally see that when you have bottles that are 1.5 liters in size, jugs, or box wines (not the small boxes folks); the only purpose is to provide a larger number of people with an inexpensive vino that they can consume in larger quantities.  And for the record, when you are dealing with wine like that, either larger bottles are better, or larger boxes, because the weight of the glass is a major factor when it comes down to transporting as well as displaying wine (boxes take up less space which allows for more wine to be presented on the shelf, as well as shipped).

Hammer wines aren't really evil, because they have their consumers, usually folks with limited funds, or less funds to spend on a better bottle of wine, but want to get some vino in them.  They usually come in colorful bottles, or have cool names and labels.  Sometimes, they will try to sound more sophisticated, to make the drinker feel as though it's a quality wine; Woodbridge anyone?  But in the end, they are simply mass-produced non-vintage juice which is sold and pushed onto many average and everyday restaurants and run no more than eight dollars a glass (Ruby Tuesday, Friday's, Red Lobster, and you are starting to get the drift).

And some of you are drinking hammer wines and don't realize it.  I love it when people say that they love Chilean or Argentinean wines when what they are getting are nothing more than the hammer wines from those places, which many people there won't even drink.  And for those of you drinking White Zinfandel, White Merlot, White Grenache or anything by Arbor Mist, you're drinking a hammer wine; stop trying to act like you have an air of sophistication to yourself.

So there you have it.  But the true question is, "when was the last time that you drank a hammer wine?"  For me, I choose a better grade of wine to lose myself, if not loosen myself.

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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