Grape choice, good wine and whatís marketed to you

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Itís almost the end of the year, and itís time to revisit the main focus of why I launched TheBlackWiner.com and why I am writing articles for the Sun, and that is to get African American more exposed to wine. In undertaking this endeavor, there are decades if not centuries of beliefs that I am challenging and trying to get people to overcome, one of which is to actually get past what you have been led to believe about wine and what is acceptable for you in this arena.

It started like thisÖ I was on the way to the arcade the other night to blow off a little steam since I had been cooped up in the house all day programming and doing database work. Well, as I was passing the Copa at 40th & Spruce, I saw a couple people inside that I havenít seen in a while and stopped in to say hey and what not. Pretty soon, the conversation turned from the controversy of Tyler Perry and his plays to the choices that [our] people make in wines.

Okay, okay, you want to know how these two subjects relate, so Iíll tell you. I admire the business acumen of Perry, but loathe his plays and television shows. Most people donít know that his first play was nothing like the stereotypical and formulaic ďchitliní circuit typeĒ minstrel shows that he has put on since. He changed his plays simply because the first one bombed horribly and that in order to get the crowds he chose to duplicate the style of what got [certain] African American audiences out. Essentially he sold out. The argument was based on the fact that his plays serve a certain market, and the person that proffered that went on to say that certain wines serve a certain market as well, mentioning wines such as Thunderbird in his argument. Well, I for one wish that those wines had never been made, and I am sure that I am not the only one that reviles the scenes of less than fortunate individuals hovering outside of state stores asking for some change so that they can purchase them more of that, or some other cheap rotgut liquors.

Well, the person that kept talking about Perry and his target audience started to talk about whatís good wine [to some people] and whatís good wine in general. This was on the heels of the other person, Chris, asking me about a Pinot or Shiraz. If you get hooked into the movies Sideways, you might come up with an artificial aversion to Merlot, which in fact is a grape used in many French wines. However, with any grape, you can make a crappy wine. There are some wonderful Merlots out there, and some of them are inexpensive (Chilean/Argentinean) and some that are quite expensive. Again, note that the price of the wine doesnít necessarily mean itís good, or even authentic, as pointed out in the book, The Billionaireís Vinegar.

We have to get past the tried and true marketing programs of old that had us drinking some very bad mass- produced quaffs. And we also have to get past the newly marketed crap such as your basic Yellowtail, any bottle of wine with ďWhiteĒ in the title, and any combination of fruit juice and wineÖ that means ďArbor MistĒ people!

You know whatís bad? I donít know any African American owned restaurant in Philly where I can get one decent glass of wine. Any!!! And by this, I am talking about something that I would serve myself, or my guests; whether itís something just for drinking a glass here and there, or something that I really want to sit back and enjoy. Now at this point, some of you want my hide, but you know, Iíll challenge anyone to show me to their restaurants and then Iíll show them to some of mine, and/or take them to a wine store and show them what could be had for the same price that theyíre paying. Furthermore, Iíll take you on a brief tour of the state stores so that you can see what theyíre not selling in your neighborhood, further lowering your choices and your expectations of wine.

To close abruptly, itís time that we move beyond what people give you, market to you and tell you, especially if they donít tell that to everyone else. Youíve gotta respect not only the message, but the messenger.

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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