Thursday, December 3, 2009

2008 Yellow Tail Shiraz: Wine for People Who Don't Like Wine

Terry Post:

It is a curiosity. The Yellow Tail wine brand accounts for nearly 10% of the imported wine market in the United States. Think of that! One of every ten bottles of imported wine consumed in the U.S. is from one Australian brand which is panned by the wine press. When is the last time you read anything positive about Yellow Tail in Wine Spectator? for that matter, when was the last time you read ANYTHING about Yellow Tail in Wine Spectator?

There may be a good reason for the dearth of positive reporting as Yellow Tail breaks with the popular conventions of the wine business because their product doesn't taste like a conventional wine. You have heard me talk about acidity in almost every commentary which I have posted. In some cases the acidity of the wine has made it a food friendly winner. And, in other cases the acidity has made it usable only as a drain cleaner.

Yellow Tail approached the wine market by taking aim at the segment which does not like the tartness or acidity which is typically found in wine. That is, they produce wine for people who don't like wine. By neutralizing the natural acidity in the wine they removed a barrier which kept the vast majority of individuals from drinking wine. In one article I read several years ago in Wine Spectator, the author estimated that only 15% of Americans actually like wine. If true, that means an overwhelming 85% of Americans do not like wine. At least they do not like wine as they know it.

My Impression: Monumentally huge, overwhelming cherries and oakiness on the nose and and equally flabby red fruit on the tongue with a brief almost sweet Luden's cough drop finish. For an instant I was transported in my wine-time-machine to the summer of 1974 and drinking Mogen-David Concord grape wine coolers at the Reno Bar in Greenville, Michigan. The Yellow Tail is like that: and, almost as embarrassing.

It is brilliant that Yellow Tail identified an under served portion of the market and developed a product specifically to address that segment. There must be marketing executives shaking their heads in disbelief that such a simple approach could succeed so easily. So, what is their secret? It is simple really: give people low-priced, low-acidity wines that are easy to drink.

At $6.99 for a 750 mL bottle it is reasonably priced. However you are part of that 15% of the American wine consuming public, you should pass on this low-priced Shiraz.

~ Terry


  1. Makes sense to me... pretty close to right on.

  2. It's more like, 15% are wine snobs and 85% like to drink wine. Yellow Tail Shiraz was one of the first wines I enjoyed drinking. Was it because it was low acid? Hell, I don't know I just thought it tasted good. I now buy, make and drink 300+ bottles of good wine per year. I'm not a snob, if someone likes a sweet or low acid wine I try to see what I have in my cellar that they might like. I don't try to force them to drink something they find unappealing because someone else says that's what wine is supposed to taste like. There are enough varieties, types and flavors of wine for just about anyone to enjoy. If it happens to be Yellow Tail, I say more power to them; they're drinking wine. Yellow Tail has become the whipping boy of wine snobs more because of their marketing prowess than due to the taste of their wines and their owners are laughing all the way to the bank.

  3. I'm certainly not a wine snob, but I remember LOVING Yellow Tail Shiraz when I first realized I liked red wines. Now I simply don't like it anymore. I generally only buy wines that are around $10, so far from snobbish (in my opinion) but my taste has definitely changed since I started enjoying wine. So I fully agree with this blog!