I am not going to pretend that I have pointed out all of the issues that face the wine industry as younger generations of consumers get older. There are a lot of issues that might see the wine industry go through a very hard time ahead, including how wine is perceived, waning interest from younger drinkers, and even environmental problems that will effect the ability to grow good grapes. However, most of the issues come down to one thing; accessibility.
With all of the issues outlined in previous articles, there is one main theme that flows through them all; wine has become something that is seen as largely inaccessible by a younger generation of drinkers. People are becoming more and more interested in cocktails and beer, finding them to be more fun to explore. So, with that said, it in time to think about how to make wine more fun for people to explore and understand.
There is one thing that I must point out as a positive for the future of wine and it comes from Virginia wine country. More and more people are going to Virginia wineries for tastings, and a lot of those people are younger. They are driving out of DC and going on day trips or weekend getaways and stopping by winery tasting rooms to sample their products. This mere fact gives me some hope that wine can keep up, but it has to do so more globally than just the DC area. It also needs to bring that fun experience back to the consumer in restaurants and stores.
In the first article, I explained how the perception of a “wine expert” is that of an old school, unapproachable, stuffy older gentleman that would look down his nose at people who say they like malbec and pinot grigio. However, with a younger drinking crowd also comes younger wine professionals. That means that the responsibility of educating and exciting the masses now falls on their shoulders more that ever. It also means that selling wine for these professionals becomes a completely different game. Where as a lot of people used to buy wine based on name and stature, more people are paying attention to price than ever before. So it comes down to really listening to what the consumer is asking for. I am no saying this isn’t done by professionals, but I am saying that this is becoming more important. This conversation will help put customers at ease and allow them to really be excited about the exploration of wine.
Another thing that really needs to evolve is how we both speak and write about wine. There are many times that I read some of the major wine publications and I lose interest. So, if someone who focuses on wine for a living isn’t interested by articles and editorials, then how can someone just getting into wine? This does not mean dumbing things down, because that would make wine seem even more arrogant than it can already. What it does mean is that focus needs to be on attention grabbing and quick education. There is so much information out there that is vying for our attention these days that it is hard to hold people’s attention. How that is done and quality is not sacrificed is the tricky part. As technology evolves, so should making wine interesting, fun, and interactive with that technology.
I know that this article doesn’t outline the “exact” way to solve all of wine’s woes. However, there is a rather large message seen here: wine professionals are the key to making wine accessible and fun. The biggest key is encouraging the exploration and knowledge by presenting the information that we have in an interesting, interactive, and unobtrusive way. Encouraging the exploration of all of that the wine world has to offer is exceedingly important to gaining new wine lovers. How that is done is for each person to decide and I hope that my decision to write on this blog helps with that possibility of your exploration.