Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Starbucks marketing - Coffee is a Wine?

The pictures are of the latest Starbucks beans offering. I wonder if (a) that really what they are doing and (b) could such marketing be successful?

1. packaging resembles wine label (distinct name, vintage, brand and type (below, not shown))
2. appeals to floral and herbal notes of coffee (wine!)
3. describes coffee in layers of flavor (wine again!)
4. offers pairing coffee with various types of food (wine!!)
5. removed coffee styles such as bold, medium, mild, etc. (wines rarely put their basic attributes such as dry, semi-dry, etc. on the label)
6. the missing piece from standard wine label is a region (appellation)

If Starbucks intentionally decided on marketing coffee like wine it may turn out as a great marketing move. Every Starbucks is essentially a tasting room and there are plenty of coffee snobs who treat coffee very personally (nothing against them!). Baristas would need to engage customers a lot better like hosts in wine tasting (I already see this happening at few Starbucks I visit). By cultivating such culture will they  diversify their customer base, bring back coffee snobs, create coffee market resembling diverse and creative wine market?

Other questions that come to mind:
How far will (should) Starbucks go in imitating wine marketing?
What other products can benefit from the wine marketing model?
Does this model really work for coffee?

Because maybe Coffee is not a Wine  just like Ketchup is not a Mustard.

Trend continues: this picture has been taken at Starbucks in downtown Palo Alto - the back wall looks like wine racks.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rueda, Borja, Aragon - loving how Spanish sounds and tastes

Yesterday I went to Spanish wine tasting (see this post). They had 2 whites and about 5 reds offered for tasting and plenty of food.

One white and one red won me over so I’ll talk about them.

2010 Esperanza Rueda Verdejo
The white is 2010 Esperanza Rueda Verdejo. Verdejo is a main white grape from Rueda DO (170 km northwest of Madrid). This wine is light, clean and crisp, well balanced too which is not easy for this type of wine. It had complex citrusy aroma and refreshing finish lasting with acidity. It’s a superior every day wine but it’s complex enough to be served on a more formal occasion. It reminds me of Sauvignon Blanc with more acidity. Make it an addition to your summer lineup of whites and it’s a great bargain at just $10-11.

They also offered the same Verdejo blended with Viura grape – Esperanza Rueda Viura Verdejo – I found it a little less appealing but it could be my palate was too tired (or maybe I am afraid of white blends?).

2010 Penelope Sanchez Garnacha Syrah Campo de Borja

The red is 2010 Penelope Sanchez Garnacha Syrah Campo de Borja (85% Garnacha, 15% Syrah). Campo de Borja is one of 4 DO wine regions of Aragon region (aren't Spanish geo names the best!). Garnacha is Spanish for Grenache but it’s really vice verse as the variety is originally from Spain. I am a big fan of Syrah and Grenache from California but its Spanish counterpart definitely held an edge. Its layered fruit aroma made me forget about food for a while. The wine has variety of flavors from coffee to strawberry, tannic (but just enough) and rich finish and perfect balance. If you are new to Grenache blends then this wine may fool you into thinking that they all are as good. Yes, Syrah and Grenache (and Mourvèdre) are maybe the best wines for a buck but Penelope Sanchez is well above average. With a price tag around $15 Penelope Sanchez Garnacha Syrah Campo de Borja is a must have.

How one would talk about wine without food? These 2 kinds of cheese and 2 tapas you won’t regret trying (send me leftovers if you don’t like them). The tapas are so delicious and so simple to make - you'll be embarrassed of the praise when you serve them to your guests (the cooking is not my thing: I like super simple and delicious recipes).

Torta de Barros is sheep’s soft cheese that simply eats like a pastry (it’s not sweet – quite opposite). I have no idea how expensive it is but I hope I can find it and I can afford it because I can’t forget it.
The other one was so delicious that I wish I could finish all they had left – La Leyenda Brandy. It’s also made from sheep milk. Apparently it’s quite popular because I found it on Amazon.

1st tapas recipe: take Quely Tapas Crackers, Spanish Fig Preserve, Foie Gras Terrine, and fresh raspberry. Spread some preserve on a cracker, put Terrine and raspberry on top. The flavor will make you forget about... pretty much everything.

2d tapas recipe: French baguette, aioli, roasted garlic, and cherry tomato. Slice baguette into cracker-like pieces and top each with teaspoon (or half) of Aïoli, one garlic and half of tomato – you are done!

I didn't make pictures - this one is just an idea of how both tapas look like.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Central Market Passport Spain

Central Market runs Passport Spain event from May 11 to 24. It's full with cooking classes, food and wine tasting events, Spanish music but most importantly they have big selection of Spanish wine and it's all on 20% sale!

There is complimentary wine tasting in the store everyday and it'll be Spanish wines these days.

So far I can only say that among all sparklers I like Cava the best for its food friendliness. I haven't had a chance to try much of Tempranillo or Albariño (among other Spanish varieties) but maybe it's the time.