Who cares where wine comes from?

By Andrew Barrow

Hegarty red

I wrote up a wine last Tuesday over on Spittoon - a rather tasty red. It just happened to be a Vin De Table.

I didn’t realise this on purchase or even while drinking it; to be honest I care little that it resides on the “lowest” rung of the quality French ladder.

Why did I buy it? Because it looked interesting and was at a price the last few coins in my pocket could stretch to. It just 6.99 seeing as you ask, the direct equivalent of US$13. I could have purchased any one of dozens of wines at this price point - I almost succombed to a jazzily labeled Australian red from … well, somewhere. And that is the point. I didn’t know or care where the Aussie wine came from specifically, any more than I did with the red I walked out the shop with.

The average consumer — and I am sure, many a more educated wine lover — doesn’t really care where the wine comes from: Sonoma or Napa, Barossa or Clare, Minervois or Rousillon.

Of course French and other European wines are slightly different than those from the New World who are happy advertising the grape variety on the label. You have to know that Northern Rhone reds are made from Syrah, or Sancerre is a Sauvignon Blanc. If you don’t put this on a label but hide it almost under the multitude of Appellation Controllee names (did you know that there are 57 different AC’s for Bordeaux alone?), then no wonder your sales are flat or falling.

People just don’t give a toss where a wine comes from. If they can be assured of quality (something that Appellation Controlle should ensure but frequently doesn’t), guarantee that the label’s vintage is correct (come on California - what are you thinking?), then price and a pretty label will sell the wine. As I demonstrated in my local wine shop.

Now you could argue that learning the differences between a Burgundy (Pinot Noir) or a Beaujolais (Gamay) and a St.Emilion (Merlot) is what makes wine such an endlessly fascinating subject. And I would agree with you. But the average consumer doesn’t care.

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