Top 10 Gateway Grapes

Posted by The Wine Whore |

As the Wine Whore, I see a lot of tragedy. Every day thousands of people put what seems to be perfectly harmless grape juice to their lips. What they don't realize is that this juice will one day change their lives. Every glass of these tragically horrible concoctions brings them one sip closer to wine enlightenment. One day they will wake up and be freed by the realization that there are so many better wines out there to be enjoyed.

Friends don't let friends drink gateway wine!

Chances are, you have a friend or family member who likes to drink one of these gateway grapes. They need your help! It is our responsibility to move people off of these gateway grapes and on to greener pastures. Although there are probably more of them out there, here is a list of the top ten to watch out for:

Sutter Home White Zin

Think grandma and combine a dash of Sunday brunch and you've got this deadly pink punch that too many people still seem to enjoy every day. Believe it or not, this juice accounts for 10% of all wine sold by volume in the United States. I am speechless...

Carlo Rossi (any varietal)

Anything that comes in a 4L jug just speaks for itself. When it comes to wine, apparently bigger is better... except for when it comes to taste. Leave 4L containers for gasoline... you'll feel better about yourself in the morning.


These wonderfully sweet flavored malt beverages are popular with underage drinkers and budget conscious winos alike. This juice can be found at most high class convenience stores and gas stations right next to the Mad Dog, Colt 45, just down the isle from the condoms and right next to the beef jerky. My advice: stick to the condoms and beef jerky.

Kendal Jackson Chardonnay

Thanks to a mishap involving unfermented sugar, this relatively sweet Chardonnay became an instant success. 60 percent of American consumers choose this sweet and fruity Chardonnay as their wine of choice. 80 percent of the American consumers who purchased Yugos would recommend their car to others. Coincidence? I think not!

Andre Sparkling Wine

At less than $4 per bottle, Andr� is the best-selling brand of sparkling wine in the United States. Tasting much like sweet ginger ale, Andr�'s California Champagne has been described as "the sparkling wine (I use the term loosely) that many people cut their teeth on." Personally, I think I'd rather cut my teeth on the bottle instead.

Wild Irish Rose

If you are looking for a high octane, low quality, cheap wine, look no further. Irish Rose has been called such classy and endearing names as "hooch," "street wine," "fortified wine," "bum wine," or even "ghetto wine." It's no wonder why this popular juice sells two million cases annually. There's no better way to boost your street cred than swilling some Wild Irish Rose freshly jacked from the local 7 Eleven.

Mad Dog 20/20

Named after the mental state you can be found in after consuming this beverage, Mad Dog is an American fortified "wine." Like its sister Wild Irish Rose, this fortified is made to get you drunk for little buck and even less taste. Most likely you'd have to be crazy to take your first sip, let alone consume the entire bottle.

Bartles and James

"... and thank you for your support."
Every time I think of these flavored wine coolers, I can't help but remember those folksy television commercials. Fortunately, my selective memory has blocked out the scarring taste of these drinks.


Ironically made by the same beer chugging, can crushing, company that produces Miller Lite, this tragic attempt at a trendy, yuppie sipping beverage recently faded away from the market. Most people were curious enough to try it once, but never brave enough to drink it again. Personally, I'd rather drink Miller Lite.

Fetzer Gewurztraminer

America's sixth largest producer of premium wines hit the mark with this sweet yet spicy juice. Selling for about $8 per bottle makes this wine a welcome substitute to the cloying counterpoints of this price point.

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Courtney Schoenfeld said...

B&J is kind of like Kool-Aid for adults. I can't recall the last time I had one, but I am pretty sure I was just out of high school.

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Courtney!

I think it has been a while for me too! Brings back good memories!


Amanda said...

Okay, I am feeling you on all these points. However, it should be cleared that the jug o' Carlos, when mixed with brandy and a few other fine ingredients makes a swell/borderline fantastic Sangria. Great site!!!

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Amanda and welcome to the site! :)

I do like a good Sangria... I guess even these godawful guzzlers can create some decent drinks when mixed correctly!


Patina Zee said...

I loved the post. Committed a few of those sins back in the day. However, now we're thinker greener. Perhaps you could contribute?

We are looking for exciting content for the upcoming directory - The Worldwide Guide to Earth Friendly Wines � and the people behind the vines. If you have something interesting to say about any aspect of organic, biodynamic or sustainable methods and practices, we will happily include your viewpoint along with a �mini advertorial� about you and your area of expertise.

Please visit the publishing company website for more information and respond to:



Patina Zee

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Patina Zee,

Glad you enjoyed the post... I don't know if I have any particular area of expertise but if anyone else reading this out there does, please feel free to participate.


Joeshico said...

Can't say I tried any one of them, given my aversion to sweet wine. Love the descriptions though. :)

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Joe!

Can't say that you are missing much... in fact, you are probably better off! :)


The Happy Mrs. said...


I'm living out a hotel right now, and because I don't have access to my rabbit corkscrew (fact: I can't open a bottle of wine without it), I am stuck with twist top wine bottles for my hotel fridge...

Sutter home chardonnay mini bottles from Walmart may be in my fridge...

At least its not the white zin, right?

(I havent tasted it one yet...but it'll probably hurt my taste buds quite a bit)

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Happy Mrs.!

Desperate times call for desperate measures! Even a cold White Zin has its time and place. As long as you are able to enjoy a glass of wine, I am happy! :)


tampawinewoman said...

Love it when my wine comes with a built in handle (Rossi Jug Wine). Also remembering Zima kind of gives me post traumatic stress disorder. Great post Randy! Thanks for the memories.

The Wine Whore said...

Hello tampawinewoman!

I felt dirty writing about Zima... wine gods, please forgive me! :)

I know how you feel about the stress and memories... I was almost tempted to drink a MD20/20 after finishing this post but realized that this was a very, very bad idea!



You forgot to mention that Andre is an instant headache do to the forced-bubble carbonation(CO2)totally wacks your PH balance in the Blood!

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Larry,

I was not aware of that one! Interesting fact that would explain a lot of my Andre pain... and here I just thought I was drinking too much of it!


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