Catch up

Keeping up a blog is more stressful than I imagined. It isn’t the work involved, its the pressure to “get it right”, but so far that has resulted in a rather extended period without actually posting anything. So, right or not, I think I had better get on with it.

A number of things have happened recently. I am writing an article on the topic of Wine Culture for a trade magazine, I have read that someone is producing a film (with Russell Crowe no less) that will be based to some extent in a vineyard, and I have re-started my own wine learning in earnest.

Wine Culture, now that I have started thinking about it, it a very useful way of improving the business prospects for wine in this country. The trade often moans about how the average price paid per bottle is so low (below £3.99) and yet our only efforts seem to be to encourage consumers to try more expensive wines by discounting them in the vain hope they will then pay full price. Unfortunately this leads to consumers getting hooked on “special offers” and switching from one to the other, never stopping to buy the full price wine they enjoyed when it was £2 off or even half price.

The result is poor returns for producers who stop paying for this promotion, so potentially opening the door for “fake” promotions where wine prices are artificially increased to allow for the eventual discount, but where the wine was never worth the full price. Why should that consumer ever decide to pay that price?

If, instead of funding these discounts, producers, importers and retailers worked together to “grow the category” (marketing speak for selling more of everyone’s wine), then discounts may not be needed to encourage consumers to spend a little more.

How could we do that? Well, firstly by increasing our understanding of how wine gets into the bottle. Even if the film “A Good Year”, due out in November, is a romantic drama, the fact that it was set in the vineyard and hopefully focuses on the year-round work required to make wine, then we will have educated consumers. If we could then follow this up with other programmes (wine tours, tastings, competitions, travel, etc.) or publications (books, magazines) we might just encourage people to think about wine in a different way. The wine trade does not make loads of money, but if we worked together to fund these, we could probably achieve it.

As I was thinking about this, I realised that my own knowledge of wine was quite narrow, so if I was to be able to talk knowledgably about wine with others who are interested, then I really ought to explore the subject further myself. So rather than drink things I know I like, it is time to explore more areas and take more risks, and hopefuly have some fun.

So, here we go again. More thoughts in the near future.