Confused about all of the statistics that show Americans are drinking cheaper wine? Or that we aren't drinking it? Baffled by the contradictory studies that show wine is out of the recession, or that it isn't?
A reporter at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Traci McMillan, has written a story that goes a long way toward making those questions less confusing. It's accurate, it's well-written, it's concise, and it provides a broad overview of the problem with specific examples. In other words, it does almost everything that most wine writing doesn't. More, after the jump:
How can a student do something that so much of the Winestream Media apparently can't? She doesn't have an agenda -- no favors to curry, no people to impress, no ego to inflate. It's reporting the way it should be done:
• Says one consumer: "There are a lot of good quality wines for $5," and noted he is no longer afraid to bring a bottle of cheap wine to a party. This would be funny if it wasn't so sad. What other industry scares its customers (excepting the record business, of course)?
• McMillan reports that the average price of a bottle of wine is $6.18, and the most popular category is $7 and under -- which accounts for 72 percent of retail sales. How often does one see those numbers in the Winestream Media?
• One Chicago-area retailer says there are "a handful of consumers who are interested in 'cult' wines -- the bottles that wine enthusiasts will dish out a wad of cash just to sample. The real group that’s suffered, he said, are bottles priced between $30 and $100 that fall between the two extremes." In other words, all the wine that has been pushed on us for years and that we have been told to like -- or else.
Well done, Ms. McMillan. But the Wine Curmudgeon would expect nothing less from a Medill student. I was one myself, in the long ago days of typewriters and carbon paper, and have the degree to prove it. (And yes, before I get a snotty email from a Medill marketing person, I know the school has changed its name from the Medill School of Journalism to the more 21st-century friendly Medill School. Which was a silly thing to do, and something that I don't have to acknowledge.)