So, the tweet was something to the effect of:
If you make it look easy, people might believe you.
I can’t recall who it was, so my apology for lack of attribution.
How about we apply this to the wine game? So rather than speaking in our own very industry-specific language, and creating a caste of wine afficionados who are so very involved that they (we) create a line between where we are at, and where everyone else might be.
It is not really our fault. Per se. It’s just that the industry lends itself to a vast terminology which is not really familiar to the broader population. And then we created tiers of reviewers and shows designed to translate the wines for the public.
How about we remove a little mystery? Make it easy. Remove the impediments, the hurdles, and open up the game?
I do get that we use much of this terminology purely to create a point of difference. To not sound like every other shiraz. But once everyone starts embellishing their descriptions, it can kinda start becoming nonsense for the sheer sake of nonsense. Rather than helping to sell, it clouds the choice.
As the somewhat baffled Chris Taylor asked me earlier this year: “We just want to buy good wine. Why do wineries make it so difficult?”
Is it possible that by trying to inform the public, and to give each wine the best chance to shine, we are actually making it more difficult? People order or buy something which will deliver what they want. Our job is to make the wines accessible, and memorable.
So. Are we really doing that? Or are we just making it more problematic for people to identify what it is they might actually like?
I generally start by asking people what they might choose to drink, in general. This is a great reference point on which to build the story. Because if you show someone fourteen wines in a row, what are they going to remember? Not much, usually. But if they have a familiar point of reference, the next step is that much closer. Often? The more you show? The less the peoples buy.
But our points of contact with buyers and drinkers are minimal. Perhaps this is where this shift in style is starting to have an effect. The wines which are purely about drink-ability. The “smashable” wines. The ones which don’t need terminology to explain them. The buyer/drinker/smasher does not need to remember that it was partial barrel ferment in one year old Slovakian oak, with fruit harvested at exactly three am to retain the exact purity of fruit the winemaker desired. They just drink and enjoy. As should we all, really. Rather than being tied up in detail.
It’s true, though. I can completely adore a wine without knowing its detail. And I am more than happy with that. Maybe punters will be too.
There appears to have been a resurgence in the whole “wine-with-names” concept. It removes the need to define the wines to within an inch of their lives, yet allows them to retain an identity of sorts.
Filed along with the wine-with-names concept is the achingly-cool-label concept. Labels are brilliant. They guide a decision. Faith in a Brand X Sauv Blanc often leads to faith in every other wine from Brand X. And the achingly-cool-labels obviously render the drinkers at least a smidgeon of cool.
And, apparently, it helps with whole concept of ‘making it easy’. It does, however, make the job of a winery that much more complex. Each winery is undoubtedly proud of the varieties and styles they have created, and like a new parent, are keen to show off and explain every.little.detail.
If there is one thing that hours/weeks/years working in cellar doors, at wine events or even in restaurants and liquor retail can remind us, it is that more often than not: the consumers just want a beverage. At a price. Which they enjoy drinking. Sure. Some want to find the new cult wine or least known variety or most esoteric production-method. But most? Most, funnily enough, just want a drink. A drink they’ll enjoy. Often with food. At a price. Do narrow it down. Provide the best options and listen .
Everything else we pop in to defining our wines is more about what we want to convey rather than what people want to hear. So maybe we need to look at our message. And what the purpose of the message might be.
Because selling wine is one thing. And it does not often intersect with educating about wine. Maybe it should. But, again, purpose. The vast majority of the public just want a pithy little reason to buy Wine A over Wine B. It needs to fit a purpose.
So if you are spending months working out your message, maybe ask one of your everyday customers what it is about your wines they remember. Be memorable. Be simple. Become the brand/label/identity they trust.
You do not need an essay. Make it easy. Easy to remember. Easy to repeat. Easy to pick up again and again.
It’s not their job to know every last miniscule detail about this wine. All they need to know is whether they like it.
So why do we make it so hard for people?
And are you easy to reach?