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April 08, 2003

Leading us to wine, and making us drink

Yes, Paulette let the cat out of the erstwhile bag with her mention of "Swallow Don't Spit," our new wine club. Our motto: "Tastes good going down." Whatever serious oenophiles suggest, we think it would be a sin just to taste and wine and then spit it out. To the dregs, baby! And then there's the bad-taste joy of the double entrendre--we can never pass that up.

It turns out that a lot of Americans do pass up the joy of the grape. I always knew we Yanks were behind the game, but until today I did not know how far. My new boss handed me a copy of Wine Enthusiast today, to (I'm not joking) research a possible pitch to a major wine and spirits conglomerate, and you can imagine my surprise to read in this article that there are only 19 million US once-a-week-plus wine drinkers. Per capita consumption is only 10 bottles a year, compared with 23 in the UK and 76 in France. Understandably, these businesses consider the US a major growth market, if only they can unleash some fairly seismic cultural shifts in our appreciation of that most varied and storied of all the alcohols (taking a page, no doubt, from the astounding creation of the "A Diamond is Forever" myth in the 1930s). [Thanks to David for the Atlantic link.]

It's a great article about the ways that winemakers have gotten savvy to branding as the best way to increase consumption and revenues. One of the biggest needs is to make wine more approachable to us Americans, given our natively democratic mistrust of frequently effette wine culture. (Translation: we're provincial hicks scared of foreign words.) One expert quoted says that US consumers want wine to be "fun, to be approachable, less of an intimidating beverage."

We at Swallow Don't Spit aren't intimidated by much of anything, and consider pretty much anything this side of Finnegan's Wake as approachable, but we will cop to wanting to up the fun factor. This will be no Frazier-esque Seattle salon des vins. We are re-writing the rules, and working on that per capita consumption at the same time. Maybe we can even turn our approach into a profitable marketing strategy for Wine Inc.

So when IS this first bacchanal going to happen? Paulette and I will have to take this one offline and figure something out. We'll keep you posted.

Posted by jay at April 8, 2003 03:15 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Oops. Was that a cat that was wanting to remain in its hiding place for a while?

10 bottles a year per capita? My God, what do these people do with their evenings? I would assume my annual consumption of wine can be measured against that in powers of 10, and I can say with some assurance that goes for many of those who travel in my crazy sphere, which says to me that we are carrying a rather large share of the burden for the rest of the country.

On the other hand, there must be some sort of appreciation award that the wine industry would be willing to share with us for all the hard work we Swallowers are doing to keep their industry out of the red.

Posted by: paulette on April 8, 2003 04:49 PM
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