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Less wine education. More wine conversation.

Education. Wine education, that is. Wine producers and wine lovers seem to have a divine inspiration to educate the great vinous unwashed on the ins and outs of malolactic fermentation, cold soaking and methoxypyrazines at every turn. The rationale seems to be that because someone happens to enjoy drinking wine, they want to know every detail of how it is made. Education is claimed to demystify wine and make the product and the subject more approachable.

Consumers are faced with a seemingly impenetrable wall of wine in most retailers and supermarkets. It seems a fair enough assumption that by providing information to a prospective wine buyer they are empowered in their decision making.

Fair enough. But there is a line and many wine lovers, armed with a little information, tend to regularly cross it. I have been guilty of it many times, as my wife likes to remind me.

The push to inform people about the minute details involved in wine is often the thing that alienates them even more. It can create the impression that if you want to ‘get’ wine you need to be interested in all of that and have an understanding of it. It is important to recognise that if someone is a ‘casual’ wine drinker that doesn’t necessarily imply that they drink fewer bottles or less expensive wine than a more ‘serious’ wine drinker. Does everyone who drives a top end car understand the inner workings of the engine? I think not.

Most people are just interested in a bit of basic advice and some recommendations, because quite frankly, they don’t want to spend most of their dinner talking about wine. They would rather be drinking it and I can’t argue with that.

5 Responses to “Less wine education. More wine conversation.”

  1. Hi Chris,

    totally agree with you and it is one of the reasons why my columns for the Cape Times are so much more lifestyle than wine-y. You can’t make people learn this stuff, they have to want to do it. Here’s a link to an article which I wrote last year on the subject which pretty much agrees with you – http://www.wine.co.za/news/News.aspx?NEWSID=16367&Source=News Oh and on the subject of giving people too much information – my husband puts the salt cellar on his head when I start getting too boring/technical/involved etc during dinner parties. Perhaps your wife would like to try that too!!C

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks Cathy. Great article. I should have just written: “Read this” and linked it up. Regarding the salt cellar… my wife is more likely to throw it at me!

  3. dionysus says:

    So true. I think the best advice and learning comes from tasting, tasting and more tasting. Taste as many varietals as possible, compare, learn and REMEMBER.

    BTW I love your new years resolution: Don’t buy any Sauvignon Blanc, I will be joining you. More Chenin, white blends, Riesling and Pinot Grigio for me.

    Cheers
    Dionysus

  4. Spot on. While there is a place for MW’s and wine education, the vast majority of people want to enjoy a nice glass in a nice situation. A couple of exceptions to this though spring immediately to mind:

    - I do believe grape varieties and place names is something consumers appreciate being educated on – e.g. if Chablis is a place and contains Chardonnay, why doesn’t it say Chardonnay on it.
    - Also the terrifying situation of a wine list in a restaurant – simple food to wine matching techniques are useful too.

    Great post!

  5. KathyD says:

    Chris, good post! As I am a student of all things wine and constantly reading, studying, tasting (!) I can often get caught up in the analysis and education aspects, and forego the enjoyment part of the process. When this happens my husband and daughter both put their finger on the tip of their nose and push up… (WINE SNOB ALERT!).
    Here’s to more enjoyment, less analysis ~ SALUD! KathyD @WineOnWednesday
    http://wineadvisornorthdallas.blogspot.com/2011/01/im-wearing-rose-colored-glasses.html

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