Is there still a place for wine within America’s burgeoning cocktail culture?
That question came to mind when I read this report from USA Today.
One of my family’s favorite “casual dining” restaurants is Red Robin. My son-in-law and 11-year-old grandson always order the Royal Red Robin burger, which comes with the usual trimmings plus bacon and a fried egg. My 9-year-old granddaughter opts for either the Cheesy Mac ’N Cheese or the Grilled Cheesewich from the Kid’s Menu. I place a custom order — a burger with nothing but a slice of cheddar cheese and sliced avocado. As for my daughter, she is unpredictable. Some things never change.
We take advantage of Red Robin’s loyalty program, one of the best in the business, and who doesn’t like those “Bottomless Steak Fries”?
A few years ago, Red Robin added a menu item that caught the eye of my beer-loving daughter. (She’s the one who learned how to uncork a bottle of wine at age 6, but to this day still describes the aroma of almost any wine as “winey.”) That item? Beer shakes. The chain also offers Baileys Irish Cream shakes, Spiked Grasshopper shakes and Kahlua Jamaican shakes.
And now, it’s introducing wine shakes, the first being a concoction called the Mango Moscato Wine Shake. As the USA Today story reports, the shake is made with wine, vodka, mango puree and vanilla soft-serve ice cream. The price? $7.49, or about the amount we pay for one of Red Robin’s gourmet burgers.
Of course, there are some people who are up in arms about this new offering.
“It’s alcohol on training wheels,” says Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director of Alcohol Justice. “It’s an attempt to get a younger market drinking.”
To which Red Robin responds: Nonsense! The new shake is targeted at the busy mother who simply needs a fun break during the day. The drink is not served in a traditional (large) shake glass, but rather in a (smaller) cocktail glass, and because of its richness, it’s not the kind of adult beverage that would prompt one to say, “Hit me again, tarbender!”
Might the Mango Moscato Wine Shake prompt some Red Robin customers to give “regular” wine a try sometime in the future? Perhaps. And that’s a good thing for all of us who make our living in the wine world, and want to see as many people as possible enjoy wine — responsibly, of course.
I’m going to give the new wine shake a try the next time our family dines at Red Robin, and I’ll let you know what I think. We’ll see if the “Mango Moscato” lives up to the assessment of restaurant business consultant Gary Stibel, who told USA Today, “These things are outrageously good.”