What is Wrong with the Wine Industry?

wine industryWell that’s a loaded question. It depends on whom you ask. Consumers would say pricing is out of alignment with quality. Winemakers might say there’s an oversupply (or undersupply) of grapes. Someone with a focus on demographics might mention a lack of diversity. Producers worry about an inability to sell to younger people. And everyone would rightfully point the finger at Covid-19 and its devastating effects on the hospitality industry.

I’m going to answer this question from my own perspective as a philosopher interested in wine aesthetics.

  • Wine is too bound up in its commodity form in which marketing is often prioritized over aesthetics.
  • The system of cult wines that serve as benchmarks of quality is hollow and unsustainable.
  • The practice of evaluating wines by taking small sips of dozens of wines in a day is an abomination except in certain contexts.
  • There are pockets in the wine community that put too much emphasis on conventions and typicity and approach wine as a set of rules to follow while looking askance at any deviation from tradition.
  • In some circles, objectivity is worshiped without recognizing its limitations in aesthetic appreciation.
  • In other circles, subjectivity is worshiped without recognizing that it makes judgments of quality incoherent.
  • A reductionist approach to understanding the nature of science is far too prominent and influential.
  • We often are too quick to judge wine quality while devoting too little attention to exploration and appreciation.

What’s on your list?

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