While I’m always sceptical about articles that attack the language of wine writing, but sometimes there is an element of truth in amongst the (typically lame) generalisations.
Today, it’s an article in The Conversation that takes some potshots, but also makes an important point.
Perhaps the wine industry spends more time catering for the wine connoisseur and misses the mark (particularly with labelling) for the bulk of wine drinkers?
This section, in particular, is worth considering:
‘Previous studies.. have suggested there are three to four types of wine consumer:
Connoisseurs or enthusiasts – those who know a lot about wine.
Enjoyment-based or casual wine consumers – those who enjoy quaffing their wine, and are not too fussed on impressing anyone with it.
Risk averse or value seeking wine consumers – those who do not know a lot about wine and look for special offers.
Image conscious or aspirational wine consumers – those who are not experts in wine, and are insecure about their lack of knowledge.
While there is limited evidence on the proportions of the population that make up each of the above groups, (what is) available suggests that fewer than one in five wine drinkers are connoisseurs.
It is clear that most wine drinkers are not particularly sophisticated, suggesting that overly complex wine labels are irrelevant to most of the market’.
Are they really irrelevant, or do some of those aspirational and casual wine consumers actually appreciate that there may be more than just a tasty drink in that wine bottle?
I’ll be the first to admit that the language of wine can be awfully exclusive at times, with elements like phenolics, reduction or extraction very esoteric.
But surely we need such phrases to explain what a complex beverage? Surely that is the whole point about getting into such specifics – that it breaks down the technicalities into something consumable?
I’m interested to hear what other people think – is wine language so esoteric that it alienates most wine consumers, or is that just a simplistic view?