If you’re like most wine lovers, you go into the grocery store or liquor store having no idea what you want, just a good bottle of wine. And if you’re bringing something to a party, you look to spend between $10 and $15, and hope it doesn’t suck.
Well, I’m here to present you with my favorite solution, Cupcake Wines. The company debuted a few years ago with reasonable prices and cute labels, here to compete with others in the cute label category (Yellowtail, etc.) That category has been established in recent years to welcome new wine fans into the wine world, who have not yet had the chance to learn about all the different wineries, and need a recognizable label. The category also appeals to everyday drinkers who may never research into wine.
The problem with that category is that some of it is not that great, tasting like rubbing alcohol or sugar water. The winemakers use high-yield, low-quality grapes, so that they can produce millions of bottles for cheap. In the red wines, you can often taste that the grapes have been left on the vines too long, which gives the impression of flavor, but upon careful analysis, tastes just like bruised fruit. Additionally, unhealthy or undesirable fruit can be pressed into juice along with the healthy fruit, so you are left with a low-quality product. Winemakers use tricks in the aging and fermentation process to make the wine taste like more than it is.
A note about yields: most high-quality wines come from vineyards with low yields, and vice versa. This means that the growers cut back the grapes to grow less grapes per vine than might be natural for the plant, which concentrates the flavors into the few grapes that are left. There is even such a thing as a single-cluster vine, with one grape bunch per plant. The resulting wine is rich and flavorful. Producers who make $10 bottles can’t afford to do this–they need cheap grapes, so they use high-yield vineyards, whose grapes have more water and less flavor. This is why you almost never have a religious experience with a cheap bottle of wine–the flavor and complexity just aren’t there.
Cupcake Wines is different. Their wines are cheap, so they probably use high-yield grapes, but they are a step above your average bargain wine. The wines taste cleaner, more vibrant, and never bruised. I get the impression that while they use less concentrated grapes, they carefully select those grapes, removing any unhealthy bunches, to produce a better product. On their website, they also say that they are careful with which growers they choose to work with.
I have never had a bad bottle of Cupcake Wine. I would bring it to a party and be happy with it. I recommend their wine for everyday drinking, or social gatherings. Happy drinking!