The Oenophiliac

Bringing you stories from the world of wine and beer.


Wine is hard enough for the professionals. To hand it over as an exercise for a bunch of ‘executive’ wannabe’s on national TV is beyond a joke! So how will this exercise effect the public’s perception of English Sparkling Wine? 

I’m just going apologise now. I hate to give any form of credence or recognition to a mainstream TV programme but, having just witnessed the fallout from the recent episode of ‘The Apprentice’ via Twitter, 16/5/12, my blood is curdling. I’ve mentioned Twitter because I don’t watch that kind of crap on TV, regardless of the fact that this weeks episode featured English Sparkling Wine. Honestly, I would rather slide naked down a razor blade then watch a bunch of moronic glory hunters fighting for the affections of a famed business man who ‘actually’ worked his way up to his station in life rather than suck up for a hand out. I’m amazed by the amount of adulation given to the programme.

I digress. Any free press for English sparkling wines can only be good, providing it is shown in the correct manor. We are building a healthy reputation globally with our bubbly too. I’m always shouting about how good English sparklers are. In fact I sell them, Bolney, Giffords Hall, Nyetimber, Moepham Valley, Rosemary Vineyard (IoW). What is even better is that more and more are cropping up on our High St. How will the general public get behind our nations fizz after watching this programme?

Apparently, from Berry Bros Twitter feed, they mentioned that their marketing team’s jobs are safe. I think my light bulbs job is safe.

One comment I noted from Twitter stated ‘So people now know it exists and it’s expensive’.

A reply came from a small but successful vineyard in the South West of England ‘Good, we don’t do cheap!’

Good god! What kind of attitude is that?

I don’t know if they were trying to be funny but I get the feeling they were being genuine.

I’ve been on a personal rampage recently, talking to people about how insular the wine community is, how it needs to get in touch with the everyday wine consumer. Unfortunately the elitist attitude is still there for all to see. The comments I read and the back slapping on Twitter came, largely, from the wine trade. I say largely as most of the 2000 people I follow on Twitter work somewhere within the wine trade.

Is this the attitude we want to publicise? Is this how winemakers in the UK want to be seen, a bunch of arrogant producers who sneer at their customers whilst raking in the dough? I felt utterly offended and ashamed. The red mist descended. I asked myself ‘How can this be the industry I work in? Do these people really need to have their heads surgically removed from their butts?’

The reason English wines are expensive is simple, the amount of land each vineyard occupies. In comparison to established wineries on the continent, our sites are very small. Basic maths and economics dictate if you can’t produce enough to meet your outgoings then your product escalates in price.

Recently there has been a call to make wine more transparent. Forums by supermarkets and publications have been set up. The agenda ‘How to better communicate with the public.’ I’m not entirely sure if this is the way to do it.

The image of wine needs a serious overhaul. During a conversation I had with the editor of Harpers he mentioned something that an ex-buyer from Tesco told him ‘Wine is in danger of being relegated to the back rooms of parties whilst all the cool kids are out front drinking spirits.’ Why not turn this image around? If producers and retailers alike engage with their customers, get more involved, surely it is possible?

I love talking to people about wine. I find a starting point, work out the customers level and go from there. If they know nothing, then great! I get to educate a wee bit. I like people to leave me having thought they have learnt something. That is where I get my buzz, not talking down and dismissing someone because of a lack of knowledge.

So, come on. Wake up. Drag yourselves into the 21st century. Leave the private wine clubs, smoking rooms behind. Wine is for everybody, not your ego. Without the paying public you truly have nothing.

Rant over…for now!!


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