Revolutionary research and thinking about “why we like what we like” comes to Ottawa November 15, 2011 with Tim Hanni, Master of Wine, Flavour Maven and the Wine Anti-Snob
We also seem to have forgotten the fact that sweet wines like Vermouth and May Wine, wine cocktails like Kir and practices like mixing fruit juice with wine to make Sangria or plopping a cube of sugar and a little water into wine that was too strong, was apropos until relatively recently. Research clearly shows that as dry wine has become the standard, roughly beginning in earnest circa 1950, wine consumption in France has plummeted by well over 50%. There are a lot of health and social issues at play in this trend to drinking less but as wine has become so “special” and dry consumers have flocked to other beverage options and will continue to do so until we change our thinking and actions. The preference many people have for sweet wines is not an American or cola generation phenomenon and producers around the globe have lost out on a huge market opportunity due to our ignorance and arrogance.
Many of the most well intended wine enthusiasts increasingly live in an imaginary, pseudo-sensory la-la land exploding with the aromas of dark cherries, hints of fenugreek, enticing minerality and chasing the elusive perfect wine to pair with braised haunch of unicorn. It is time for some serious revisionist thinking of the out-of-date information, incorrect assumptions and inappropriate judgments that continues to alienate a very significant percentage of the very consumers with whom they are trying to communicate.
New generations of wine drinkers are entering the market and are unimpressed with the ramblings and values of the current wine establishment. Vast new Asian markets, beyond the prestige-based micro markets that are fueling rare and obscure classic wine sales, are ripe for the picking. The key is that 100 year old thinking and values are not going to provide the means to take full advantage of the opportunities at hand.
Advertising legend Sir John Hegarty’s offered the following insight in a speech to the Institute of Masters of Wine Symposium in Bordeaux, France; “‘This is [a] market that goes out of its way to confuse the consumer. You’ve seen it — the way people in restaurants nervously pass round a wine list. It’s fear. You as an industry have encouraged that fear. The wine industry is the most fragmented market I’ve seen. Fragmented, confusing, impenetrable.”
So how did wine, once considered the gold standard of adult beverages and the one most closely associated with civility, family and community, become so intimidating for so many people? In part it is because the industry has failed to recognize that human beings can vary dramatically in sensations they perceive. These differences of perception drive consumer wine preferences: sweet or dry, delicate or intense, high-alcohol extract of grape syrup or foaming fruity fizz. Additionally we as an industry have been perpetuating myths and misinformation about wine styles and traditions that end up alienating a large percentage of consumers.
I propose that consumers stand up for their rights and demand the wine industry cater to their personal preferences. If you are confronted by a wine person who in any way is trying to impose their will on your wine choice demand they listen to your needs and help put an end to the tyranny of the wine cognoscenti. It is high time that the industry learn that people live in different sensory worlds and the wine industry can do better by fostering in a new era of consumer education and appreciating rather than engaged in petty arguments and posturing over the meaning of terroir and who is right about points or ratings.
The wine industry will benefit by revising stale and incorrect information, completely reinventing the role of wine with food and most of all by listening to and better understanding the entire spectrum of consumer wine preferences and values. A wine industry that learns to celebrate and market to these differences will expand beyond current expectations. It will be more vibrant, more capable of sustainable growth and wine will become more attractive to new and existing consumers around the globe.
To your — and the wine industry’s — health!
See Tim Live in Ottawa November 15, 2011 presented by Algonquin College, Lifford Wine Agency and Groovy Grapes Underground Tasting Club:
- Wine Enthusiasts: 6:30-9pm Why You Like What You Like Seminar and Tasting at Restaurant International, Algonquin College (70% sold out)
- Media, Wine Trade and Restaurant Trade: 2-4pm Why You Like What You Like Seminar (Trade Only) email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-691-0668 x 103
- To interview Time in advance by phone or November 15, 2011 email email@example.com or call 613-691-0668 x 101
About Tim Hanni mw
In 1990, he was one of two Americans to first earn the Master of Wine credential. Tim currently serves on the faculty at Sonoma State University in the Wine Business Management Certification program and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London, England, has adopted his wine and food principles in their international curriculum.
Tim’s research with noted Cornell University taste scientist Virginia Utermohlen, MD, is setting the stage for the next revolution in wine and food education and provides the basis for his popular workshops and seminars. He is a frequent lecturer at U.C. Davis, the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone and a popular keynote speaker at wine events around the world.
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