Too Approachable?

A guilty pleasure: “Cocobon” California red at $6/bottle

Yes, I have other wines at home.  Wines that have high ratings from magazines like the Quarterly Review of Wines, and Wine Spectator.   So why have I been opening this $6/bottle Trader Joes — and enjoying it so much?

It’s because I’m not just a wine spectator, I also like to drink the stuff.  And I like other people to drink with me and enjoy the wine as well.

Wine-people will charitably call a bottle like this “approachable”.  What they are really saying, in code, is that the wine is uninteresting, and, if you like it, perhaps you are too.

But products (it really is a mass-market product)  like Cocobon are just too drinkable to dismiss.  The scent of the wine is quite pleasant and even slightly sweet, but certainly not cloying — just inviting.  The taste is very simple, also pleasant, and it goes with everything. And  I mean everything — from peanut butter to steak to shellfish.  Cocobon not trying to do much, but it does a nice job of tasting good, and not interfering with the food.

For many, this is more than enough.  And if you don’t know who will be drinking it with you, it’s a safe and good bet.  The wine doesn’t even bother divulging what grapes are used.  Merlot?  Grenache? Cabernet?  Who cares?

“There’s probably not more than 20¢ worth of wine in that bottle.”  A very wine-savvy friend is skeptical of wines like Cocobon. “It’s no doubt drinkable, but it’s like bad TV.  It doesn’t take you anywhere.”

Cocobon may simply take those who enjoy it back to Trader Joe’s for more.  As such drinkable mass-market wines gain in popularity, more interesting wines, whose alien scents and tannic tastes challenge us (or excite us, depending who you are), may lose market share — and cabinet space — to the $6 products.

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