Americans are drinking more wine than ever before. In fact, we have passed country after country in wine consumption as scores of gen Xers and now gen Y’s start to sniff, swirl, and taste.
I think this is just great!
Today, more than ever, consumers crave a story. They want to go beyond pure consumption and even conspicuous consumption. People want to be engaged with the brands they align with.
Wine has been a direct beneficiary of this phenominum. Think about all the back labels you have read. Some stories are trite (think kangaroos, penguins, etc.). Others are more meaningful. Each story helps us go beyond the wine as we step into the vines, touch the dirt, and smell the air.
Finally, wines are more affordable than ever! Check that, QUALITY WINES are more affordable than ever. We have our choice of country, varietal, etc. You don’t have to be wealthy to be into wine. In fact, it is an inexpensive vacation for many of us.
What is more risky, buying an expensive wine from a well know, high-end label or buying a few inexpensive wines ($7-$15 range) from lesser known or larger quantity producers?
I recently found myself wondering this after a disappointment while tasting a $35 bottle of California red from a very well know and usually very good producer. Sure this could have been an off bottle, but I did not detect any of the common characteristics of a corked or poorly stored/transported wine. I think my experience was simply an example of a so-so wine being marketed at a high price because of name recognition.
Sure this is risky for the producer because their very name and reputation is at stake with each bottle. Perhaps they are still willing to chance it in hopes consumers will convince themselves that the wine is good?
What about less expensive wines? I love to scan the shelves for unfamiliar label or varietals in hopes of finding my next “house wine“. For me this is exciting. Almost like traveling to distant wine regions without leaving crummy NJ!
Of course, most of the time these wines will not transport your taste buds to that magical place that a Petrus or Quintessa will take you. However, most of us can’t buy those wines anyway!
More times than not I am pleasantly surprised with what I find. Years ago this was not the case. Cheap wine usually meant bad wine. In today’s market we are blessed with a highly competitive market with wines from many regions around the globe. We also have new technologies like packaging (boxed wine & lighter bottles) that shave the costs even more.
So, what is more risky? Do you personally go with one big named, high-priced “trophy” wine in hopes of experiencing flavorful bliss? Perhaps you like to spread the risk across a broad selection of less expensive wines? Tell me, I want to know!