FRONT PAGE NEWS
We know. Cheap camping plonk! Mass-produced rocket fuel! Boxed wine had something of a reputation. Tackling this head-on is a recent article in Winerist magazine. 'Can boxed wine ever be good?' they asked. And of course the answer was a resounding yes, and guess what - The BIB Wine Company is the proof (collective sighs of relief all round).
The article carries on to say 'what is particularly exciting about the direction bag in box wines are going however, is that you can now find luxury wine in a box. This means really interesting, well-made, seriously delicious wines that look so good, you’d be proud to show them off. Take the brand new BIB Wine Company for example: They’ve nailed the packaging for a start but the best thing about them is that the wines are good - all 12 of them'.
You can read the full Winerist article here.
Wine Car Boot - IS BACK. 29th September, St James Market, London. It's the last one of the season so hope to see you there. See more on Wine Car Boot here.
STIGMA AND WINE.
It's not just boxed wines that have had to overcome a bit of a reputation.
After the 2004 film 'Sideways', the reputation and sales of Merlot in the US took a catastrophic tumble. Amazingly, this was all down to a couple of throwaway lines from Paul Giamatti's hapless character in the film. What did he say to do so much damage? Mainly, "If anyone orders Merlot I'm leaving. I'm not drinking ****ing Merlot"... "tastes like the back of a ****ing LA school bus". If you haven't seen it, the film is still a pretty good watch. Surely though, the rantings of a fictional character couldn't have a lasting effect on sales?
Well, 10 years later, producers of Merlot were eventually forced to combine forces and mount a large strategic marketing campaign just to begin to deal with the fallout from the film. Just last year the tide appeared to be turning with Merlot sales up 5% in the US.
Whether fixing damaged reputations or bringing new ideas to the world of wine, historically the wine market has been slow to react. Take our reluctance to accept the screw cap, or our difficulty accepting that not all Chardonnay tastes like the over-oaked Aussie stuff of the '90s. In the face of sometimes good evidence, for some reason we can take a lot of convincing.
Why were we so resistant to change? It likely had something to do with the status attached to wine. The 'look at my knowledge/culture/wealth' side of wine that over the years turned so many people off. This created an environment of fear. Fear of bucking the trend. Fear of getting it wrong. Nobody ever got tarred and feathered for choosing an unfashionable grape variety in a restaurant, yet for many of us this was the level of fear experienced when presented with a wine list.
However, maybe the 14 year crisis management of the Sideways effect, the acceptance of screw caps and the rehabilitation of Chardonnay are a turning point. It's worth stepping back for a moment. Before the '70s, wine wasn't that widely drunk in the UK. As a nation we've been busy getting to know wine, deciding whether or not to cheat on our pints of warm ale. With that now out of the way and with wine firmly established as a favoured drink of the nation, maybe we're becoming more accepting of change? Maybe we are becoming less fearful of stigma? Maybe we're becoming more demanding of quality over status?
Well, that's definitely what we're seeing. Low intervention wines, traditional artisan winemakers, innovative packaging formats, new wine-making techniques, and the rise of previously unknown grape varieties and regions - these trends are growing fast and are changes now driven by demand and interest from drinkers. No longer scared to ask for advice, we're now demanding more information, quality and character from our wines. It's a shift driven by a nation's fully fledged love of wine - and that's just the way we think it should be.