Except for those who are really adventurous, many of us have some kind of fear for the unknown. And when the unknown comes across as exclusive rather than endearing, it can intimidate us even more. Wine can be like this.
For us who know wine dearly, fearing wine can be hard to fathom, so let’s turn the tables. Take the average winemaker, someone who is comfortable around wine and not in the slightest intimidated by a tasting room. Take him or her to Wall Street and enter the New York Stock Exchange. I bet most winemakers will feel slightly out of their depth. Observing is one thing, but now you want the winemaker to react, to interpret what is happening, have an opinion… I guess most of us would like to run for the hills.
Someone new to wine culture can have the same reaction when entering a Wine Tasting Room. Those who know wine might think the room elegant and welcoming and the wine stewards knowledgeable. For the newcomer the ritual of swirling and nosing, tasting and spitting is strange and the terminology of terroir and barrique foreign. And then they have to respond. What do they smell or taste? Do they like it? What would be their ideal food pairing? Suddenly, one can understand why the charming activity of wine tasting aimed at gaining more followers for your brand, can actually scare people out of wanting to drink wine.
But is this still true of today’s consumer? The younger generation might not be as easily intimidated. Millennials are often regarded as confident, adventurous and looking for new experiences. Perhaps they don’t find the wine tasting room daunting? Perhaps, young people also empower themselves with knowledge? They don’t have to walk into the tasting room not knowing what to do. All you want and need to know are available online. You can watch a video of how to swirl your glass or how to taste and while you might not have enough knowledge or experience for an appropriate response, you can certainly get enough information online to fake it… even though that does not do a lot for wine appreciation.
Education has always been important, but we should really embrace the ways in which information is presented today. In my opinion, the popular consumer wine site, WineFolly.com did the wine industry a big favour. Their opening page says: “Simplify wine. Learn to navigate the wine world with confidence.” I often reference this site for its detailed data, but at the same time, information is presented in a way that is inviting rather than intimidating. It is wine talk in a way anyone can understand. I am therefore delighted to learn that WineFolly has now merged with Global Wine Database. (Read more) While Folly Enterprises will still provide wine consumers with accurate information in an accessible way, it will now also “bring endless new possibilities to the wine world using big data and design communication”, said the head of Folly Enterprises, David Gluzman on TheDrinksBusiness.com.
In today’s global village, cooperation has become more important than ever before. I think this merger will do a lot to make wine data available to the industry and to make wine less intimidating to the consumer. Perhaps we will be able to convince consumers that wine is just a friend they do not know.