NOT ALL WINES HAVE GOT THE BOTTLE!
I’m off to Alimentaria on Monday – it’s the excellent biennial, professional wine and food fair held in Barcelona. I’m always invited, on your behalf, of course, so I can come back with tales of what’s hot, and what’s not. Invariably I return to write about, not just the wines I’ve tasted, but also about any new trends I’ve observed.
In the past, for example, I’ve regaled you with comments about: how wine labelling in Spain has evolved for the far better; about the changing profile of the attendees, who are increasingly coming from the Eastern economies, firstly Japan and now China; and about the rise and rise of wines with some sort of ecological twist; etc.
For a wine anorak like me it’s an exciting time. This year I’m expecting to see further evidence of a trend that I’ve already noticed in the wine shops and of course back at base, the bodegas. I’m quite sure I’ll see lots of impressive wine bottles, probably moving away from the typical ‘Bordeaux’ style bottle, with the high shoulders, to that, traditionally known as the ‘Burgundy’ style bottle, with shoulders sloping down to a base with a larger circumference. Or indeed the slightly sloping, as it were, off the shoulder, but more chunky semi-Bordeaux style.
I’m sure also that, despite worries about carbon footprints, these bottles will be weightier items. (Laudable concerns about how much energy we are wasting in the world and how many natural resources are being squandered, seem to have, lamentably, been put on the back-burner [no doubt one that uses fossil fuels!]).
I’m sure, because I have several in my office and, to Claire’s horror, overflowing into the house. My point though is one that will interest not just my fellow anoraks, but also those kindred spirits who share my passion for fine wine. All of these heavier, impressive looking bottles contain/did contain wine of top quality!
Add this to the fact that the vast majority of these wines have excellent, sexy, modern labels and a clear trend is developing. In short the bottle and its adorning label is becoming a clue as to the quality of the wine within, perhaps more so now than it ever has been!
Such wine bottles are magnets, attracting, and almost willing, you to lovingly place them in your shopping bag and take them away from the boring riff-raff skinny bottles with whom they have had to share shelf-space. It’s another, more tangible, form of subliminal advertising – and it’s perfectly legal!
It used to be (and still is) that a label will sell a wine – it’s upfront sexism to me, as these labels are designed to attract the ladies, whom, we are told buy something like 80% of all the wines purchased. And this, wait for it all you feminists, is because it’s the fairer sex that does most of the shopping!
Nowadays the merchandising people are attempting to enfranchise the men too, who increasingly are doing more shopping (Exhibit A, your correspondent!). Wine bottles still have cool labels, they still appeal to the ladies, however their designs are now becoming more attractive to men as well. Plus, and here is where the men are being re-targeted, the bottles are heavier and, although they still contain 75cl, they look larger! More man-sized!
Nonetheless the same caveat still applies, for me. Whilst the label and the bottle combined are powerful and successful forces aimed at the buyer, it’s the quality of the wine inside that will make the consumer buy a second bottle, or not!
From my experience those wines in such powerfully attractive bottles are indeed the better wines! And of course, they command a higher price.
Looking at it from the producer’s viewpoint, it’s fair that we are expected to pay a premium for wines packaged in such a way. For a start the bottle is more expensive for them to buy. Plus the label design has to be paid for. And of course, the producer is in fact pandering to our whims – we like attractive, weighty bottles, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
It could be, of course, that a producer of dubious morals might seek to take advantage, and take a gamble too. It would be possible to use the heavy, sexy, cool-labelled bottles for wines of a lesser standard and dupe the consumer into buying wines at a far higher price than they deserve. But, of course, although he might sell all his first run this time, when the consumer gets them home and tastes the contents it’s unlikely there would be a re-print!
Thus I think we are quite safe in paying extra for these wines of quality – for exactly that reason, they are, probably in all cases, top quality wines deserving of the glitz and glam. They are proud. They’ve got bottle!
There’ll be more from Alimentaria in the coming weeks. If you want cutting-edge Spanish wine journalism – you’re in the right place!
NB I’m presenting another of the hugely successful Ethnic Cuisine/Spanish Wine Tastings, May 20th at Javea’s excellent Thai Restaurant, Monsoon! Please contact me for poster and more details – asap as it’s sure to be a full house!
Contact Colin: firstname.lastname@example.org and through his unique Wine Services Website www.colinharknessonwine.com and you can follow Colin on Twitter for-up-to-the-second Spanish Wine information @colinonwine