Are your wine choices simply 'trendy?'

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I was at a wine tasting yesterday, and I got into a conversation with the lovely lady doing the pouring.† Based on the wines present, one of the things that we talked about was the issue of people drinking a wine simply because of the type of wine it is, but not knowing anything about it, or even liking it at all.† The wine/varietal was Malbec, a wine that literally means "bad taste/mouth," and she was remarking on how everyone started ordering it after seeing the movie Sideways.† Well, I mentioned that at the same time, people stopped drinking Merlot because of it.† And the irony of it all is that Merlot tastes a whole lot better than Malbec.† So, this brings me to the topic of this article, trend-drinking.

Trend-drinking is nothing more than choosing to drink things based on the perceptions that are attributed to the product in general, or the perceived status that give the imbiber.† We see it all of the time, but normally with beer and spirits based on what was advertised for decades in this country before an informal agreement not to advertise liquor on television was ended a couple years ago.

People thought that Heineken and Budweiser were quality beers; they're not (not the Heineken that you get over here).† On the former, it was the perceived notion that beer from Germany was the best, because the German invented beer.† I hate to break this to you, but they didn't.† Beer goes back prior to 9,000 BC and there are even hieroglyphics telling a story involved beer, Isis, and how it saved mankind.† On the latter, Budweiser is just pathetic, but we are talking about the American market which has some major culinary issues with itself.

Then we had the transitions in vodka from Absolut to Stoli, then to Grey Goose, and then on to a number of so-called premium spirits that are only premium in their marketing and prices.

And then there is also the trend of drinking what people that have come before you drink (parents, older adults, people in business that you want to connect with or pattern yourself after).† You also have to consider the fact that in some cases, there werenít that many choices previously either -- not that I am saying that it was great then or great now, but I remember when Mad Dog 20/20 only had one flavor, and it didnít have a name to it.† And the aspect of drinking the same thing as your boss or some other [potential] business connection is nothing new; itís tantamount to everyone trying to network over golf and sushi -- I for one have not found the taste for single malt Scotch and a number of other aged spirits. †

What's bad right now for many of us beginner level wine drinkers is that we can easily get wrapped up in adhering to something that we read, or something that we heard from someone else that we think is in the know, without regards to placating our own palates.† "If everyone else was jumping off the bridge [or cliff], would you do it to," I can hear my mother saying, and at some point you have to stop being lemmings when it comes to what you want.† Hey, but I know thatís too much to ask because most people are followers on some level (I am just thinking of the Capri pants era for women in the 90s as one example).† While some trends might be good, some of them might equally be bad.

It used to be Bordeaux and Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.† Then it became wine coolers, White Zin, and White Grenache.† Now we have Wild Vines, White Merlot and White Shiraz (note that these last two sentences are example of bad trends).† Now we have the Malbec and Carmenere explosion.† Pinot Gris is also making a comeback; which is really just Pinot Grigio folks.

Summarily, I hope that while you might fall into a couple of trends that you will reach outside the box and look for things off of the beaten path.† You might find a couple nice treasures that everyone else is simply passing over.

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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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