Opinion: Complex v Consumer-friendy

Drinks: Drinks
Other: Opinion

It’s funny how the wine trade comes over all squeamish about certain products isn’t it? How it’s ok to like Sancerre, for instance, but Kiwi Sauvignon is rather vulgar. How it’s practically compulsory to adore sherry, yet offer a trade buddy a glass of Pinot Grigio and he probably won’t speak to you again.

On one level, I ‘get’ this. After all, the ‘accepted’ drinks might be more challenging, but they’re also inherently a lot more interesting. Drinking the latest Tio Pepe ‘En Rama’ at ExCeL last month was a genuine highlight, for instance, and I can guarantee that none of the hundreds of PGs in the exhibition would have come close to it in terms of complexity.

But however much the on-trade, in particular, likes to see itself as something of a forum in which people can be gently induced to try new wines, it needs to be careful that this doesn’t tip over into an antipathy to harmlessly popular styles.

I alluded in a blog earlier this year to how the drinks trade is often somewhat out of step with the general public, and I think this is summed up rather neatly by its attitude to Moscato.

The latter, in case you didn’t know, is huge in the States at the moment – in fact, has been for a while – and there are signs that it is starting to take off over here. At the recent round of supermarket tastings, it was there in many formats: sweet, dry, off-dry, fizzy, pink and white. And as I tasted them, I kept thinking to myself: I know lots of people who would like these wines.

Hell, I even quite liked them myself. They were flavourful, undemanding, cheerful and, with their lowish alcohol levels, hugely gluggable. They were, admittedly, a bit Dan Brown-ish, but nobody wants to read classics all the time.

Yet, having just sat in on the first round of judging of our Wine List of the Year competition (shortlist to appear in the July/August issue) these wines are conspicuous by their absence. Either the trade hasn’t yet picked up on what, admittedly, is still a nascent trend or it’s looking at these unashamedly populist wines and shuddering.

I sincerely hope it’s the former. In which case, call some in and give them a go. If you can find one you like, chuck it on by the glass for the summer, and the punters will love you long time.

And while it might not be grand cru Burgundy, it’s still a whole lot more interesting than most of the Pinot Grigio that’s been washing around over the last decade.

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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