Two of the leading wine tracking consultancies have released their 2011 top brands surveys, at more or less the same time that one of the most influential wine bloggers in the cyber-ether asked if it’s true that wine writers don’t write about wine that people drink. Needless to say, the conclusion in the latter’s post was that yes, it’s true, and, more importantly, said the comments, why would we want to?
Let it not be said that the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t appreciate irony.
The surveys were from Impact DataBank and SymphonyIRI. The wines that made the lists (and there is a surprising amount of overlap) were many that the Winestream Media goes out of its way to ignore: Cupcake; Apothic, the sweet red; Barefoot and its 10 million cases; and even YellowTail, which has shown amazing staying power given how old the brand is and how quickly brands fade away. The 2010 Symphony list is also worth noting.
I’ve written about this before. Actually, many times. But it’s worth repeating: The gulf between the wines that most Americans drink and the wines that most wine writers write about is stunning, and it’s a contradiction that exists in almost no other industry. What car magazine ignores entry level cars?
What’s even more amazing is that so few in the Winestream Media realize this, which is what made the Dr. Vino post so noteworthy. It’s not often that people with his credentials ask that question:
While it ?s true that a reader can pick and choose from a list of recommendations, it ?s still worth bearing in mind that if a reader were to have a $15 bottle of wine every other night, the total spend on wine a year would be $2,730, a significant figure for most household budgets.
This elicited a lot of hand wringing in the post and comments, because, obviously, cheap wine is not worth writing about. So what are wine writers to do? Or, as one comment put it, “Wine writers are in a tough spot. The elite vintners are the ones that pay their bills either directly or by allowing them access to wines that give them credibility. If they don ?t kiss their butts, they won ?t be relevant or worse won ?t have work.”
And people think I’m a cynic.
I’d like to suggest another possibility: That it’s OK to write about wines that people drink, even if they’re sold — shudder — in grocery stores and made — tremble — by huge multi-national corporations. There is plenty of terrific $10 wine available (though it requires a bit more effort to find than waiting for samples to show up at the front door). I’ve been doing it for almost four years, and I’d like to think I’ve had some success with it, to say nothing of being relevant.
But then again, what do I know? I write about cheap wine.