Quick Recipes and Easy

Something To Wine About

I’ve always believed that wine should be a celebration of life. One should certainly never have to succumb to drinking terrible wine. So I found it disheartening, as I walked down my local supermarket’s wine aisle last week, and noticed the overriding presence of commercially branded, bulk-produced, marks. Where are the unique wines that offer a different tasting experience?

It makes sense to support those merchants who have spent valuable time in compiling an intriguing and thoughtful wine portfolio. And surely wine buying should also be a creative process, affording pleasure in the sourcing of lesser-known wines that surprise.

Supermarket wine sales continue to cash in on wine brands that lack diversity and limit wine drinkers’ imaginations. What does it mean to buy wine at your local supermarket? Do you do so for convenience sake, pricing, or simply for the fact that “it makes no difference”?

The continuous sale of wine at our supermarkets is testimony to the fact that a large percentage of the South African wine drinking public don’t tend to plot their wine buys. But, if you care about what you drink, then perhaps it’s time to start doing some homework.

The reason why supermarket stores and off-sales do so well is that they can be found on nearly any corner, and people not deterred by the lack of choice can impulse buy to their heart’s content.
Thus, for the sake of consumer convenience, we find ourselves directly supporting wine production that’s driven by the demands of our supermarkets and the international wine export markets. Will the support of mass-produced wine brands alter the SA wine psyche for ever and hurt our already fragile local consumer wine market?

The successful product listing, by a supermarket, of a particular brand, does not necessarily indicate that the product was chosen for its superior quality. It’s usually an indication of how excellent the brand’s marketing channels are, as well as their commitment to supplying wine in large volumes, while offering a consistent product. Tight profit margins effectively prevent the smaller, fascinating wines from ever appearing at the local supermarket.

Sadly, all SA wines end up being judged by the local consumer market based on what’s available in the supermarkets… commercially branded wines that are churned out in bulk, to be sold off as quickly as possible, locally and internationally. Our wine consumer’s choice is under threat due to the lack of diversity in our shops.

At the risk of sounding like a stockbroker, I urge you to start diversifying your wine portfolio. Wine is a precarious product. Its placement in the market is a delicate one. Explore other wine resources, take heed of online wine recommendations or wine magazine panels, and question the sommelier at your favourite restaurant about that fascinating wine that you’ve never heard of. Shed the huge brands and embrace the small producers – support their pursuit of purism.

More thought needs to be given to the time and dedication spent on crafting an estate or boutique wine of limited supply. These wineries are trying to be noticed within the SA wine arena – don’t let them drown as a result of the commercially placed brands. Choose to learn more about artisans who painstakingly make every effort in crafting a unique wine, right to its style and right to the terror of our country.

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