Beverage Bulletin May 2012

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor


May 2012


This month's stories include:

A Quote from Winston Churchill

A Playboy's Life with Hugh Hefner

Singer Fergie now makes and sells Wine

Baseball Player Roger Clemens in Court over a Miller Lite Can

Purdue University Finds New Health Properties in Red Wine

Drinking Red Wine While Hula Hooping!

Wine Sales Trends

Board of Equalization Loses Tax Case

Changes in Visa Card Charges

Paying with a Smartphone

Female Spending Power

Consumers Continue to Cut Back

Who is Having it Rough?

8 Things on Their Way Out

Getting a Healthy Meal on the Road

Customer Loyalty

Our Changing Demographics

Summer Cocktail Recipes

and as always Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar




I Have made it a rule of my life never to drink non-alcoholic beverages between meals.” - Winston Churchill

Churchill's favorites were Johnnie Walker, Hine Cognac, and any Champagne. He felt Champagne “heightened his senses.”





A Playboy's Life

Did you ever wonder what they are eating in the Playboy Mansion? There are two different menus being served at all times! The mansion kitchen operates 24 hours, 365 days a year with 12 full time chefs and an Executive Chef and Food Director overseeing the entire operation. Everything is made from scratch including pies, cakes, and pastries. The chefs prepare elaborate meals with several courses for the 100,000 guests a year. The Executive Chef calls this menu “insane.” But what about the other menu? That's just for Hugh Hefner. What does he eat? His breakfast is served at 11:30 AM. A jelly donut from Winchell's and half a ruby grapefruit, every day. His lunch is served at 5:30 PM; Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup and Saltine Crackers, every day. His dinner is served at 10:30 PM. For dinner he has 31 choices that are listed by number. They include #6 Grilled Cheese, potato chips, apple sauce and 2 oatmeal cookies and #21 Fried Chicken Strips, baked potato, and 2 oatmeal cookies. His favorite is Lamb Chops, which he has at least once a week. His dinner order is communicated by number to the kitchen by his butler. His favorite snacks are cookies of all types and brownies. The chefs are required to record the working temperatures of freezers, refrigerators, and ovens every 8 hours and log them in a book. His favorite secret about the Playboy Mansion is . . .The wine cellar. The house was built in 1927 during Prohibition, and there is a secret panel that leads to what is now the wine cellar, but it used to be where they stocked the liquor. Hefner's favorite drink: a Dutch beer named Bavaria.


Fergie's Wine!



Pop singer Fergie is expected to introduce her own wine, Ferguson Crest, later this year. It will be made with grapes from a Santa Barbara property she recently purchased. Fergie is also part-owner and spokesperson for Voli Spirits’ Voli Light Vodka, low-calorie French vodkas priced at $19.99 a bottle.

Miller Time & Roger Clemens



Baseball pitcher, Roger Clemens is on trial for lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone. His trainer, Brian McNamee claims he saw Clemens inject steroids. McNamee put a used needle and bloody gauze that he claims were used by Clemens into an empty Miller Lite can. The problem is that he also put similar materials from two other players into the same can. Apparently DNA from all three players and drugs have cross-contaminated and mixed on the materials. This clouds the issue of whether or not Clemens actually used the drugs. It also brings a new meaning to “Miller Time.”



Red Wine in the News

Purdue University researchers have reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that a compound they have found in red wine, grapes, and blueberries blocks immature fat cells from growing. The chemical is called Piceatannol and also may protect the body from cancer, heart disease, and degenerative neurological diseases. Piceatannol is converted from Resveratrol in the human body after consumption. It was already known that Resveratrol works against heart disease. Now the research indicates that it is converted to the compound Piceatannol which does the work.


Can You Drink Red Wine Like This?

Speaking of Red Wine, here is a talented young lady who has a unique way to drink a glass of red wine. I bet you can't do it while spinning a Hula Hoop! Check out this youtube video.

Wine Sales Trends

U.S. off-premise wine sales rose 3.7% to $2.5 billion in Nielsen channels during the 13 weeks through April 28. Varietals and other wines showing gains were: Moscato +38%, Sweet Red Blends +144%, Sauvignon Blanc +12%, Malbec +16%, Pinot Noir +8%, Pinot Grigio +9% and Rosé +27%. Varietals showing declines included Riesling -4%, Merlot -5%, and Syrah -14%.

Total domestic table wines were up 5.2% to $1.8 billion for the last three months, imports were even at $671 million. Premium three-liter boxed wines were up +18%, under $8.99 wines were even, wines priced $9-$11.99 +10.2%, wines at $12-$14.99 +8.3%, wines $15-$19.99 +12%, and wines $20 and over +13.7%.


Board of Equalization Loses Alcohol Tax Case

The Board of Equalization(BOE) approved an increase that amounted to more than15 times the previous tax on flavored malt beverages in 2007. The rule they passed changed the definition of distilled spirits to include beverages like Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice when calculating tax. The Board figured to collect up to $41 million a year in additional tax. Before the new tax could go into effect a lawsuit was filed by Diageo-Guinness. The company argued in court that the board had exceeded its authority by changing the definition of flavored malt beverages and only the ABC can classify alcoholic beverages. At first a trial court upheld the Board's position. Now the California Court of Appeals has reversed that decision and ordered the trial court to find in favor of Diageo and ordered the BOE pay the court costs. During the time the case was being decided, manufacturers were forced to change their formulas to avoid paying the tax; the BOE had to hire staff to check if the formulas met tax requirements; and beer and wine licensees were left with uncertainty. B&W licensees were buying what suppliers called beer and the BOE called distilled spirits; something B&W licensees weren't allowed to sell. Meanwhile the BOE has classified some flavored wines as distilled spirits to put them on an even level with competing malt beverages. Now the courts could overturn the wine regulation as well. Where happens next? The BOE can comply with the court's decision or it could appeal to the California Supreme Court. While the court battle continues the net result is that California continues to be a difficult place to do business.

What's in Your Pocket?

Visa Payments
has raised its “no signature” limit on transactions at Supermarkets and Discounters to $50. Retailers can now make the sale without a required signature as long as the purchase is under $50. This will include up to 80% of transactions and speed up the checkout process.

Smartphone Payments
45% of Americans now own a Smartphone up from 33% a year ago. 10% have used their smartphone to make a charitable contribution, and more than 33% have used it to do online banking. At current growth rates it is possible that paying with smartphones will overtake cash and credit card payments combined by 2020, according to a survey recently released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Elon University's School of Communications.


Economic News

This month's economic news and marketing trends are a mixed bag. The surveys and analysis are less than good. But, the positive thing is that they show where we've been; not where we're going. The trends in wine are definitely positive. The upscale part of our industry needs all the growth it can get. The one thing that is certain is that the economic changes taking place now are very rapid.

Female Spending Power in the U.S.

1) Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases.

    2) Women make 80% of health care decisions and 68% of new car purchase decisions.

    3) 75% of women are the primary shoppers for their households.

    4) Women influenced $90 billion of consumer electronic purchases in 2007.

    5) Nearly 50% of women say they want more green choices.

    6) Women who are also mothers represent a $2.4 trillion market.

    7) 76% of women are online. 90% of mothers are online.

    8) 64% of mothers ask other mothers for advice before they purchase a new product and 63% of all mothers surveyed consider other moms the most credible experts when they have questions.

      Consumers Still Cutting Back
      “The economy is affecting American consumers just as we expected with specific segments continuing to be challenged,” stated Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. “The economy as a whole is still on the mend, and although we are starting to see an uptick in the job market, it doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are eager to spend. Uncertainty still remains among consumers with continued caution around spending on nonessentials.”
 Survey results from Empathica indicate consumers are cutting back the least on gas; with about 90% 10 saying they were spending the same or more. 20% consumers were spending less on groceries and 25% who spent more. The survey also showed dollars spent on pharmaceuticals declined for 25%, stayed the same for 60%, and rose for 15%


      Consumers said they are still cutting back on various categories. Several of these involve our Food and Beverage Industry. Here's the bad news: The percentages of Consumers that said they have cut back by category Fine Dining 71%, Furnishings 69%, Electronics 65%, Going to Bars 64%, Air Travel 62%, Hotels, 61%, Clothing 58%, Department Store Shopping 55%, Casual Dining 50%, Home Improvement 49%, Convenience Stores 45%, Fast Food 42%, Pharmacy 25%, Supermarkets 18%, and Gas Stations 16%.

      The top two reasons given for cutting spending were concern about taking on debt and having to pay more for housing and utilities. Their top three worries were the economy 31%, debt 25%, and job security 19%. Looking ahead about one third of consumers overall thought next year will be better; 50% of 18 to 24 year olds thought things will get better; and only 19% of those 65 and older thought things will get better.


      Economically Challenged – Who is Having it Rough?
      According to WSL/Strategic Retail Report Moving On 2012” noted that nearly 25 percent of the young adult market, 18 to 34, now represent the highest percentage of Americans who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs. They say they are just not able to make ends meet, compared to 17 percent of adults age 35 to 54, and 13 percent of those age 55 and over.


      Marketing Trends

      With a tough economy trends and changes continue to move through the American Marketplace at a rapid pace. Below we have listed things people are giving up and new products and services they are embracing. Smart marketers have to not just stay up with the trends, but get out ahead of them.

      Eight Products and Activities the 18-25 year olds Are Giving Up

      1) E-mail. Reason: It's too slow. That's why Facebook has been successful.

      2) Regular Beer. Light Beer is their choice. According to Annheuser Busch 4 out of 10 in their mid-twenties have never tried regular beer. Ypung males overwhelmingly drink Light Beer.

      3) Newspapers. Print newspapers all over the country are in trouble and it's not going to get better. In 2010 only 7% of 18-24 year olds read them regularly. What are they reading? Most report getting their news from the internet; many say they get news from Twitter

      4) Driving Cars. In 1998 65% of potential drivers had licenses. By 2008 it had dropped to 43%.

      5) Landline Phones. In 2010 a survey of adults 25 to 29 showed that 51% lived in households with only mobile phones.

      6) Cigarettes. From 2005 to 2010 17% of 18 to 24 year old smokers gave up smoking.

      7) Desktop Computers. 70% of 18 to 24 year olds own a laptop computer, while 57% own a desktop computer.

      8) Watching TV. Neilsen reports 18 to 24 year olds watch 24 hours of TV per week compared to 32 hours for everyone. And 23% of them say they watch “most” of their TV on the internet compared to 8% of the whole population.

        Getting a Healthy Meal on the Road
        USA TODAY
        reports that a small but growing number of travelers book their hotels near a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or independent health food store. These people have food allergies, diet restrictions, or travel with someone who does. How do they locate the hotel? When booking travel they look up Whole Foods or a local Natural Food store and find a nearby hotel on Google Maps. What is the lesson from this? Obviously a restaurant can't change its menu to suit an unlimited number of diets. But, you can be receptive to customers diet requests. As it happens, my wife is on a doctor ordered diet. We have found that Red Robin is very receptive. When we asked how something was cooked, the waiter called the manager, and the manager very graciously had the chef come to our table to discuss the meal. A big surprise for a mid-market chain restaurant! Contrast that with a recent experience. We went to an upscale white table cloth Italian restaurant in a beautiful setting on the edge of a lake. My wife did not want to make a fuss. She ordered grilled salmon - just leave off the sauce. A very insulted staff refused! The final compromise: they would only serve the salmon if the sauce was brought to the table in a separate little pitcher. Did it really make a difference? You bet it did! We will remember the staff's attitude.

        Customer Loyalty is an Elusive Target
        Loyal customers spend more and cost less than finding new ones. Loyal customers are also more likely to recommend a restaurant to others. But recent National Restaurant Association data reveals that 70% of full service and 75% of limited service operators find customer loyalty more difficult to maintain now. That one fact has caused nearly 30% of restaurant operators to start offering loyalty programs.

          Our changing demographics
          According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 1960, an estimated 97 percent of all Americans spoke English and non-Hispanic whites made up 82 percent of the population of Los Angeles County. In 2000 non-Hispanic whites now account for only 31 percent of Los Angeles' population. Today the Mexican population of Los Angeles is second only to that of Mexico City, and 54 percent of the population speaks Spanish as its primary language.


          Cocktail Idea

          Send them flowers – in their cocktails! There are several flowers that are safe for consumption. These include violets, orchids, lavender, rose, hibiscus, chamomile, calendula, jasmine, carnation, pansy, geranium, honeysuckle. Read more about this on Spirit Cocktails at


          Summer Drink Recipes

          Mango Margarita a la Mode

          Makes 1 cocktail
          2 oz. tequila
          1 oz. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
          1 oz. fresh lime juice
          2 T. pureed ripe mango
          1/2 oz. mango nectar (optional)
          1 small ball raspberry or strawberry sorbet




          Melon Rumballa
          Makes about 8 cocktails


          3-4 ripe melons

          2 Cups Light Rum

          1 Bunch Fresh Mint, cleaned and stemmed

          Juice of 3 Limes

          1 Cup Ginger Ale


          Sugar for Rimming the Glasses


          Tasting Notes

          There were several tastings this month. Here are our notes from some of them.


          May was Viva Vino month! The Italian Trade Consul presented an endless array of fine wines of many types from all over Italy. We had the privilege of tasting a line of wines from Domodimonti. At the tasting we met the owner, Marisa Bellini as well as the winemaker, Carlo Ferrini. It was an educational experience. Ms Bellini moved from Italy to Canada at an early age. There she met and married Francesco Bellini. The two now divide their time between Montreal and Montefiore dell'Aso. At Montefiore they have taken an existing winery and introduced sustainable agriculture. The wines are produced to exacting standards and can be called “Natural.” The vines enjoy natural rainfall and are not irrigated. Our favorite white was Li Coste Pecorino 2010. Placed first in stainless, then in 4 to 6 months in small wooden casks, without malalactic fermentation. The result is a wine that is clean and crisp with the distinctive character of 100% Pecorino grapes. Retail about $18. The red we favored was Solo Per Te Marche Rosso IGT 2007. This wine is 95% Montepulciano and 5% Petit Verdot. The combination is full bodied and elegant, deep violet color, a wine that will play well with red meat or can be enjoyed alone. This wine will age well for several years. Retail about $20. Contact Roberto Magello at or (215) 275-8116.


          The following day we attended the Viva Vino Grand Tasting which featured dozens of Italy's finest offerings. There we tasted the Domodimonti wines again. This time against competing wines at much higher prices. After sampling a room full of fine wines, the Domodimonti Pecorino and Marche Rosso are still our favorites.


          Prosecco is the hot up and coming wine from Italy this past year. Sparkling, fresh, and clean it delights the palate. Villa Sandi poured three Proseccos. A brut made from 100% Prosecco grapes, a Brut from Pinot Nero and Glera grapes, and an Extra Dry from 100% Prosecco grapes. All three retail for $15 to $17. These Villa Sandi wines are imported and sold in California by Michael Mondavi's Folio Wines. Contact or (707) 256-2700.


          Guy Azera's Transat Trade hosted a tasting of wines from Chateau Giscours. The Chateau is an example of the finest wines from Margaux. Indeed, some will sell in the $150 range. There is a bargain available here! Giscours has a third label, le Haut Medoc de Giscours. The grapes are from the same vineyards, crushed in the same winery. They are not to the standard of the top label, but still delight the palate exhibit the character of Margaux wines at a fraction of the price. The 2008 and 2009 are dry, young, with a good nose, and deep ruby color. Retail in the $20 to $25 range. This wine can be enjoyed daily! Contact Transat Trade at (310) 516-6799.


          Industry Calendar

          6/3 Rhone Rangers-LA

          6/9-10 LA Winefest – Hollywood

          Note: LA Winefest has special “trade only” hours 12 noon-2PM Saturday June 9 contact to register

          6/11 Taste of Mendocino-SFO

          6/16 Pinot Days – SFO

          6/16 Howell Mountain Charity Tasting & Auction - Napa

          6/17 Father's Day

          6/20-21 Unified Grocers Expo-Long Beach

          6/26 Beaujolais Sommelier Seminar – San Francisco

          7/4 Independence Day



          New Legislation for 2012

          Our industry has more laws controlling it than most industries. The State Legislature and the ABC give us license privileges and can take them away. 2012 has several new laws that you must follow. New alcoholic beverage laws are being introduced that will be effective in 2013. Many critical issues are pending. Is your business safe? Members are encouraged to look through the Legislative Bulletin. If there is a new law that is a problem for your business, call the association office now. The CBRA is your voice in Sacramento. If you are not a member, join today. The CBRA is your only voice when it comes to new beverage laws.

          Brands and Comments

          The CBRA Newsletter has not accepted any payment from any of the brands mentioned in this edition. The editor, Ron Ziff, welcomes comments at


          CBRA Membership Remains Open

          Now, more than ever, access to your industry is important. The CBRA is California's only statewide association of licensed retailers, and our membership continues to be open for the first time in 20 years.

          At CBRA we deal with licenses and regulations that affect the beverage business on a daily basis. That's why CBRA offers practical solutions, unique products, services, information, and timely advice for both large and small beverage businesses. With reasonable fees, superior service, and associates that are easy to reach, CBRA helps you to run your business better and easier. One of the most valuable services we offer is that call to the ABC to ask your question. We can ask that question and keep you anonymous. That's something you just can't do yourself.

          Join or renew your valuable membership today. You can't afford to delay.

          California Beverage Retailers Association – California's Only Association of Licensees. We're #1!


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