Taste-testing Replica Wines: How do knockoffs stack up to the originals?
“Wine is bottled poetry,” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote. But for this story, blend in a little Shakespeare, who said, “What’s in a name?”
The name here is Replica, as in: replicas of famous wines that are made to taste the same but are easier on the wallet.
Traditional wine-making begins with the grapes, but Replica Wines begins in a Denver laboratory where famous name wines they want to replicate are analyzed down to parts per billion, overseen by Sean Callan, director of operations and quality.
“There are a lot of chemicals in wine and it can tell us a lot of different things,” Callan told CBS News’ Barry Petersen. “So these chemicals your brain will tell you smell a certain way or they taste a certain way and we’re able to map it out and say, ‘this wine is this buttery, this oaky, has notes of green apples in it, has a certain amount of dryness to it, the heat from the amount of alcohol.”
Callan and his team create a chemical map of the distinctive flavors and aromas. Then Replica mixes its grapes to match the analysis and has its chief wine officer, master sommelier Brett Zimmerman, check out the result the old-fashioned way — by tasting it.
“I’m the final say as to, you know: does the wine taste great,” Zimmerman said.
“What I can tell you is we’ve spoken with thousands of consumers around the country about our wines and the reaction is just overwhelmingly positive,” said Ari Walker, CEO of Integrated Beverage Group, the maker of Replica Wines.
The truth is in the tasting. So to find out, we invited some people to try the wines and their replicas to see what they preferred. We matched the original to its replica counterpart, using our costs for the real wines and replica’s suggested prices for theirs.
Overwhelmingly, the taste testers preferred the original version to the replica, but some said they would still buy Replica’s version because it costs less — and that’s the point.
A Roman author once wrote, “in wine there is truth.” But it’s wine buyers who will finally decide if truth really can be had at half the price.
To see how each of the wines we tested measured up to Replica’s version, watch the video in the above player
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