Why everyone's talking about ALDI wines
ALDI wines keep winning awards and sparking social media buzz. So what's their secret to being on everyone's lips?
It depends on who's talking ...
Jason Bowyer, Buying Director for Wines and Sparkling at ALDI, puts it down to passion.
“The golden rule we work on is that a $10 wine at ALDI should drink like a standard $20-25 wine to ensure the customer always gets a good experience.
“It’s got to have a purpose and passion, a belief that you are doing the right thing.”
Most recently, the budget supermarket chain won Gold at The Great Australian Shiraz Challenge for its $6.99 One Road Shiraz, and Double Gold at the Melbourne International Wine competition.
"Its $6.99 retail highlights just how serious we are about driving quality, value at clear point of difference to our competitors,” Bowyer adds.
Elisa Baek of the Annenberg School of Communication at UPenn, says the human desire to share exciting news is responsible. Baek has studied extensively what makes things go viral on the internet.
“Our data seems to suggest that articles that lead to increased activations in the brain’s value system are more likely to go to viral,” she tells VinePair.
“We found two key considerations integrated into the value system — to self and to others. That is, people want to share things that make them look good (self-related motivations) and that their friends might also like (social motivations).”
It means our brains are hardwired to calculate the advantage of sharing something that will increase our social standing.
“People have inherent motivations to be accepted socially, and present themselves in a positive light,” she says. When we see something spreading on social media, it provides a signal the item is socially relevant, leading to a higher engagement of the brain’s value system. If we perceive something to be valuable, we’re more likely to share it — only furthering its perceived value."
Wine judge says it's not about buzz
Andrea Pritzker, a judge at the 2016 Sydney International Wine Competition, where an $8 ALDI $8 Côtes de Provence Rosé took out a silver medal, says buzz had little to do with the win.
“The show is judged entirely blind," she tells VinePair. "The panel, which is made up of winemakers, sommeliers, wine journalists, and retailers, never see the labels, nor do they know the prices.
"At that time quite a few of the wines entered were from ALDI. They did very well and I think it came down to [their] balance and food friendliness.
“People often judge wine by its price, which can be a good indicator of quality, but not always. In the case of ALDI in Australia, they source the fruit and have the wines made to their own specifications and then brand it themselves. This gives them full control over the process, ensuring that the wine quality and price are made to a particular specification. Other retailers also do this, but ALDI has a very narrow wine range so they’re able to ensure each wine meets those specifications.”
Bowyer agrees: “At ALDI Australia, we are fortunate to partner with many high calibre Australian and international wine suppliers to set specifications and develop creative new product ideas within each category, modifying year on year to ensure we remain relevant.
“We have built strong relationships with these suppliers who are committed to ensuring that our wine products offer high value at their respective price points. For new suppliers, we ask that they share this passion and understanding.
“As a business, ALDI continues its commitment to building long-term, sustainable relationships with our suppliers, so this does not change.”
Too many medals being handed out?
Earlier this year, Liam Mannix wrote at the Sydney Morning Herald: "Australia's premier wine shows are bestowing medals upon more than half the wines that are entered, and senior wine industry figures believe they have been captured by the industry they are supposed to critique."
Mike Bennie, author of review site Wine Front, told the SMH he'd lost faith in the system.
"There are too many medals given out," he said. "If half the wines in a wine show get a medal, that means very little for the medals that are appearing on bottles.
"I just don't think the system is servicing the best interests of consumers."
Regarding ALDI's wins, Mannix noted: "The supermarket chain has eight wines that boast a gold medal from at least one Australian wine show, including its star wine: a $4.99 South Point Estate Rose that has won golds in Perth, Hobart and Sydney in the past few years. ALDI entered these wines 37 times at five top wine shows in 2015-16."
But almost half the time they failed to qualify for a medal at all.
"It's a numbers game," said wine critic and author of bestwinesunder20.com.au Kim Brebach. "If you throw enough wines at the shows, some of them will get a medal. It's a joke."