As with most trends, there are elements of both worth and absurdity in the wine category known as “glou-glou.” The phrase is an onomatopoeic neologism, first uttered by someone in France at some point in the past five or so years, to describe refreshing wines that are built to drink a lot of, now. The way they splash down the ol’ gullet, they make a “glug-glug” sound. I love how different languages show us that onomatopoeia is never exactly what it seems.

Glou-glou indicates a growing impatience, especially among younger drinkers, with the notion that greatness in wine is measured by how long it can age, or how intellectually compelling and sensually complex it is.

Glou-glou asks, “What if a wine’s greatness were measured instead by how much joy it brings?”

That’s a fair question. The gray-area answer has something to do with how joy is a sacred purpose but not the only one. Other sacred purposes are intellectual challenge, emotional depth and spiritual transport. Glou-glou wines are ultimately about the body, and the glou-glou cultural phenomenon is about not being ashamed of that.

Broadly speaking, the category (which sometimes goes by the less trendy “quaffer” or the more French “vin de soif”) is about wines that emphasize freshness and drinkability. They don’t pretend to high seriousness, but nor are they lightweight or dismiss-able. They are generally low in alcohol and tannins and rarely, if ever, see oak for fermentation or aging.

Many of the original glou-glous were made by carbonic maceration, the sealed-tank fermentation process most closely associated with Beaujolais. But lately there’s been a retreat from carbonic after criticisms, often well founded, that it served up an overly generic sort of freshness at the expense of terroir, or sense of place.


In the glass are high acidity and mineral notes, all the better to consume with casual food, small and unfussy plates or outdoor cooking. The flavors are usually rife with cooled fruit flavors, maybe some fresh flowers; animal or earth notes are out.

Good glou-glou is simple but not too simple. They drink super easy, but they still present a sense of place. You get genuine inklings of a unity between soil, climate and grape. And there’s maybe even a connection through the wine to its human maker, since you can just about smell and taste the light touch with which the wine came into being. Good glou-glou communicates a friendly guy or gal on the other end of the line. And since more and more food and beverage trends are about “the story” and the links between production and consumption, this is all very much a thing for right now.

Yes, there’s a marketing angle to all of this. Though many makers and sellers of glou-glou (whether they’d use that term or not) subscribe to varying degrees of punk-influenced, Luddite, left-leaning, neo-hippie ideals, the whole thing is in part about marketing. And it makes sense to market a thirst-quenching, unpretentious and invigorating sort of wine to people who, unless so marketed to, are at risk (horrors!) of drinking too much craft beer.

Forthwith, a few refreshing, drinkable but interesting wines. I hesitate to call them “glou-glou,” because maybe there’s a glou-glou rulebook out there and some of these wines run afoul in some manner. I think glou-glou is mostly know-it-when-you-see-it. You just drink the wines, because you have thirst and desire. You pay a little bit of attention, but not too much. And if the bottle is empty before you turn around, you’re on to something.

• Monte Cascas Vinho Verde 2012, $16 (Crush). Vinho Verde is almost always eminently drinkable, of course, but usually in such an evasive, nothing-much manner that is seltzer-like, which couldn’t be further from what we’re after here. The Monte Cascas is an altogether different beast (the first hint is the price, I guess, since there’s plenty of VV around for half that.)

Generic Vinho Verde frequently doesn’t list a vintage, since it’s often a blend of several. This wine isn’t even from 2013! A year of bottle age transforms the mere-refreshment style into something verging on thrilling: salty and intensely aromatic in a funky vein, almost blue-cheesy and gasoline-y, with matchstick and apricot, too. For the quenching of more searching thirsts.


• Charles Smith Wines Eve Chardonnay 2012, $13 (SoPo). You’re thinking, “Chardonnay? Refreshing?” Hell yeah. Many people are familiar with the very good Charles Smith Kung Fu Riesling, but this year the entire line of hand-harvested, basket-pressed, native-yeast-fermented Washington state wines has been a tremendously exciting surprise. The oak-free Eve is clean, dialed-in, zippy, honest, no-nonsense and irresistible. It has this buxom mid-palate, though, which is what I love most about good Chardonnay: high acidity coupled with a willingness to show some flesh.

• Domaine des Corbillières Pinot Noir Rosé 2013, $16 (SoPo). When people think of Touraine, in the Loire Valley, they think of Sauvignon Blanc. This estate makes a fine Sauvignon Blanc, but their red Cabernet Franc is a chalky, bittersweet peppery madman, and this rosé from 20 percent Cab Franc and 10 percent Pinot D’Aunis, in addition to the majority Pinot Noir, is where I’m at these days. You could drink a half-gallon of water beforehand and this wine would still be thirst-quenching. The individuated flavors, more spice than fruit, everything atomized and in its place, are a revelation and surely due to the hand-harvesting and native-yeast fermentation that takes place over a relatively long period. If you own a Weber, you need a case of this.

• Azienda Agricola Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012, $15 (Devenish). Not all glou-glou play only in the pink and red fruit realm. Montepulciano ought to be dark purple veering toward black, a mix of sweet fruit and damp earth, as this is. I include this wine here because I don’t want anyone thinking that “gulpable” implies “lightweight.” For here is a wine of organically grown grapes with the dirt-caked oomph and drive that red-blooded manly men like to drink, yet it’s so deft and nifty and soft at the same time. Follow the arc, from oodles of fresh blackberry, to middle-stage middle-earth, to dried herbs and dry dirt. Glug.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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