Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A whine on wine

I had a bit of an old-lady tantrum yesterday but I totally stand by it. 

I received an email link to a company that is marketng its wines to younger (though still legal) drinkers.  No doubt the company did its research and realised that some young people (“the millennials” as they seem to be called in marketing circles) feel intimidated by wine and they don’t feel equipped to make a sensible choice about what wine they, or their friends, might enjoy. 

Hey, I’ve been there. I know wine can be intimidating.  But my easy solution would be to ask someone.  Your family, friends, or even the guy at the wine store.  Even if you don’t know what varietal(s) you like or what region you prefer, even the L-plate wine drinker knows if they usually prefer white wine or red wine.  And any wine store worth its mettle should be able to steer you to success from there. 

But what did the wine company in question do?  Rather than value the intelligence of their intended market, they released a range of wines with labels bearing “LOL!!!”, “OMG!!!”, “LMAO!!!” and other such keyboard shortcuts.  Yes, those exclamation points are superfluous but again, they are the company’s idea, not mine.  To utter three little letters of my own: W.T.F (incidentally, this is the name of the company’s Pinot Noir).  I may not be a purist, but I am a linguist, and something about these products is slowly killing me on the inside.

Tapping into young-person’s vocab is a great way to show you have your finger on the social pulse.  And maybe I’m just turning into a crotchety old sag, but aren’t these texty labels tantamount to a giant neon sign above the head of the purchaser, screaming to all and sundry that he/she clearly doesn’t know what he/she is doing?  As I clutch my pearls and inhale my smelling salts, I have to despair: won’t anybody think of the children?!

And okay, fine.  I have to concede that contents aside, these labels are trying to encourage young drinkers to drink wine and on this front, I am totally on board.  I love wine, and I want lots of other legal-drinking-age people to love it too.  But will young drinkers actually learn anything about wine from drinking these ones?  I suspect not.  So I’m led to assume that this is just a dumb marketing stunt designed to move lots of product. And all I can say is, shame on you TXT Cellars.  Besides, the 2011 Consumer Research Study by the Wine Market Council suggests you clearly didn’t need to resort to this.  In the US at least, the survey reports trends that suggest that millennials are more likely than other groups to try wines they’ve never heard of before, they’re more likely to consult wine reviews and more likely to visit wine bars.  Millennials also consume more wine per occasion than we older soaks, and they readily use social media channels to talk about the wines they’re drinking.  They’re a switched-on, sophisticated bunch of consumers, so treat them accordingly.

Sigh.  In times like this, I reflect fondly on one of my favourite wine stores ever.  The owners, staff, teachers and patrons all used to say, “the best wine for you is the wine you like the best”.  So my advice to young drinkers looking to find the best wine for them, is to keep asking questions, keep sampling, and keep an open mind.  And learn how to spot an insult to your intelligence when you see one.

I have to go now.  It's 7pm and "Matlock" is on TV.


Batreg said...

When you start watching Heartbeat I know it's time to intervene.
I read an article a couple of months ago about people who said they would be more likely to read wine and wineries reviews if the restaurant had iPads from which the wine list was linked through to such information. Point and choose if you're too proud to ask the waiter I say and enjoy the time out with your mates! Boring.

Anonymous said...

My philosophy on the topic is to keep pulling a cork at least once a day and trying the bottle. The Law of Averages says that one day you will come across a bottle of wine that will make you stop and ask the the all-important question " .... do I like that?" Your answer should ALWAYS be " .... hmmmm, let's open another of the same and see ...". Oh, and drinking it with a nice steak meal, fish meal (whatever) certainly helps in coming to the right conclusion.

Mates are OK so long as they don't get in the way of enjoying a wine.

(A short homily from the pulpit.)