Last Thursday, September 1, was both Cabernet Sauvignon Day as well as Tempranillo Day. Did you raise a glass of either, or maybe both, to celebrate? Or were you one of the ones opposed to such grape days? Other grapes and wines have had their special days too, and there are more to come this year. For example, October 1 is International Sake Day while October 28 is Champagne Day. But are such days necessary and beneficial, or are they merely marketing ploys?
The basic idea behind such days is to promote a grape or wine, and savvy marketers take the opportunity to highlight and push their products. The first question that comes to my mind is whether the grapes or wines actually need such promotion or not. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is already a very popular grape so why does it really need its own special day? What does it really accomplish which warrants holding a special day of promotion?
There are plenty of under appreciated grapes and wines, such as Assyrtiko or Sherry, which would benefit much more from their own special day rather than Cabernet. They need the publicity, to boost their sales and recognition. But many fewer wineries would support days promoting those under appreciated grapes and wines. Cabernet Sauvignon Day can draw in many more wineries, from all over the world. Thus, it is much easier, and profitable, to market Cabernet Day rather than Mencia Day.
I would much rather see days celebrating the wine underdogs, helping to gain them recognition and new fans. I want people to broaden their palates, and taste new grapes and wines. For example, Sake is still vastly under appreciated in the U.S. so having a day that celebrates and promotes it makes sense. Though Sake also does not have a huge marketing effort behind it so Sake Day does not get promoted anywhere close to as much as it should. Did you know Sake Day has existed since 1978? That makes it far older than most, if not all, of these grape and wine days.
We also have to ask who actually knows about all of these special wine days? Who is the target audience? Does the average consumer know anything about Cabernet Day, or is it something known only to wine writers and more hard core wine lovers? I suspect that the general public is largely unaware of such events, unless they happen upon a local tasting. I doubt most know about it ahead of time and make specific plans to celebrate. So it would seem that it is best known to wine lovers who already have an appreciation for the common grapes like Cabernet. So if that is the main audience, then what is the need for such a day? I just don't see it.
Wine lovers though still need exposure to more uncommon grapes and wines, and they are the ones most likely to be experimental and try something new. So, a special day promoting such varietals or wines can have a positive effect, beyond a mere marketing ploy, by enticing wine lovers to step out of their comfort zone and taste something different. And if they are also wine writers, then maybe it will cause them to further promote the grape or wine, which could lead the general public to consider trying it.
So rather than another Chardonnay Day, let us see Xynomavro Day or Madeira Day. What do you think?