The Unsolvable Problem

DontDrinkWineChartBob on Sonoma posted the above chart in a post entitled Why Don’t People Drink More Wine:

It seems the key reason here is you look down the wine aisle(s) of a shop and are just plain overwhelmed. All these brands, types of wines, wines from all over the world. Where do you start if you’re just looking for something to take to mom’s for a chicken dinner? ….The key item is finding it hard to select a wine. And I don’t know how to fix this. Apparently, no one does. Maybe that starts with the common phrase, you have to make wine approachable. I’m not sure how to do that either

This is an unsolvable problem. The diversity of wine is what makes it intimidating; it’s also what makes it interesting. You can make wine less intimidating only  by making it less interesting. That might help out the casual consumer looking to grab a bottle for dinner. But that won’t encourage them to acquire a deeper interest in wine. Of course, most casual consumers won’t develop that deeper interest. But some will. And those that do keep the wine industry afloat. All of us were casual consumers at one time.

I distinctly remember the moment I got interested in wine. I was standing in the grocery store aisle wondering what to buy for dinner. I remember thinking that if all these different wines really were different, they would be fascinating to study. I soon discovered that those supermarket wines really weren’t all that different. But the wines at a good wine shop were.

Some people are intimidated by diversity or complexity and are afraid to experiment, even if the cost is only $15. Others are fascinated by diversity and are willing to plunge in and experiment hoping to learn something. People in the latter group are the core wine consumers. Cater to the first group and you will lose them.


  1. I often compare the world of wine to the world of music. Certainly music could every bit as diverse and overwhelming as wine is. And yet people never complain about music being too complicated to learn, or too difficult to understand.

    Why? Because people feel confident in liking what they like when it comes to music. But in wine the world is full of people (and the media is full of stories) telling us that we have selected the wrong wine for the food, the occasion, or the price. Sure, there are music critics, but the vast majority of music lovers pay them no attention whatsoever, and feel free to choose whatever music they like. But then, music critics rarely write articles about the ten artists or musicians you should avoid at all costs.

    The next time you go on a rant against the vox populi in wine, you might come back and read this column.

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