Do I? Wine writers, or at least I as one, get told that the focus in the wine industry, and by us writers or critics are too much on the fancy labels, the big names and vineyards. That we should care more about the smaller, great value for money producers, or even regions. I actually think most of us do. But do our readers?
Well, I’m going to turn the discussion. When I post something, I like to follow the traffic. I can’t do that everywhere I write but I can do that on some of my publishing. To see what is of interest to my readers. And they are from all over the place. All over the world. Just today on one of my blogs there have been readers from the US, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Norway off course, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Russia, India, China, Japan and Australia. Even Kuwait. All kinds of readers with all kinds of interests, in the world of wine. But it is the same trend as in sports, fashion, cars, movies or music. I have far more visits to whatever I publish on the so called best. If I review a, say Charmes-Chambertin from a famous name 92 points, and have another posting with a 94 points Charmes-Chambertin from a less known producer, or as known but not quite as attractive to have on your table (everybody knows Toyota but Mercedes is more fancy, right?), guess which one have the most readers?
Because people read about what they think is great, or the best, rather than about something less familiar, or less exciting, right? Those who do read about it may buy the scoop, and more often than not, those who do tend to write to me or talk to me if we meet up face to face, they mention those scoops. How brilliant it was to get to that first. And how incredible it was that it wasn’t sold out right away. Well, it would have been if as many readers bothered reading about it as they did with the one with slightly lesser quality for probably twice the money. And that is with fine wine. Guess what happens when you go further down the food chain? With exceptions, as there are always exceptions, there are even fewer visitors.
Sometimes I write about real finds, gems that are superb value for money, from grape varieties I might not even have heard of, and the wine is just seductive and flirting. Yet with glowing review, and for little money. Almost no sales. The wine disappears from the market (at least my local market). Sales wasn’t good enough for the importer to keep it. It’s not fancy enough for a majority of readers. They need labels. They need Nike or Rolex or Bentley to show off. The Bentley without the badge isn’t fancy enough even if it out performs. Because their friends won’t be impressed. I hear about it from sales, and even see it from the traffic. I remember Jancis Robinson MW once said something like. “-If I was really influential, Riesling would be much more popular than it is”. Do readers want bling? Yes, quite a few of them do. Luckily there are exceptions. But there could be, and should be more of them.