Monday, August 29, 2016

Rant: You Don't Know Wine

To some, the results of the poll were disturbing and surprising. It seemed to run counter to what they thought, or at least felt. However, it's likely that the poll results would be similar in most, if not all, other countries and regions as well. In short, most people don't know much about wine.

The Guardian reported the results of a recent poll taken in France, asking people whether they considered themselves knowledgable about wine or not. France produces some of the best wines in the world, from Champagne to Bordeaux, and they have been doing so for many hundreds of years. You might think that because it seems to be such a vital cultural element of their country that its citizens would know plenty about wine. The reality is that is not the case.

In the poll, 71% of the respondents indicated they did not consider themselves knowledgeable about wine and 43% of that group said they knew nothing at all. Only 3% considered themselves to be "well versed" while the other 26% said they "knew enough."  So very few French people actually believe they know much about wine. That doesn't surprise me.

Plenty of French people may drink wine, though consumption has been declining in recent years, but most people don't sit around discussing terroir, fermentation techniques and barrel aging. They simply enjoy a glass or two of wine, usually with food. They don't give wine much consideration, just enjoying the styles of wine they like. It is only a tiny minority who actively seeks out to learn more about wine, to study grapes and production methods. It isn't necessary to learn much about wine to enjoy it, so many people don't see much of a need to learn all about wine.

That isn't any different from any other wine country or region. The majority of people in California aren't sitting around discussing and learning about wine either. Most people simply drink wine, without paying attention to the myriad of details behind its making. Again, it is only a small minority of people who want to learn more about wine. Like Spain, Italy, South Africa, Australia and any other wine region. It is really a niche subject.

It is probably the same with other beverages as well, such as most Germans don't know much about beer and most Japanese know little about Sake. People generally drink such beverages, or not, and most don't care to learn all about such drinks. They are content just to drink and enjoy.

Thus, France's poll about wine isn't really disturbing. It simply reflects reality and doesn't indicate a decline in wine interest. Most consumers have little reason to intently study wine, and there is nothing wrong with that.  

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