More than a drink, wine is education in a bottle. Wine has the capacity to make you travel, discover new cultures, climates, people. For every bottle in every selection, there is a great story behind the label, and you cannot guarantee that same experience with other drinks. The challenge for so many sommeliers, especially today, is how to tell these stories in a way that will make every new generation want to approach wine without the hesitation that wine is not for them. I wish we could say that this was already the case, but the way things are looking, people in the industry might have to put in a little more effort.
Having a look at the drinking industry over the last five years, we can analyze two major trends. First, the main liquor and beer players are capitalizing their resources on the new generation—mainly people within the 20-to-35 age group—by making strong investments in bars, mixology competitions, and nightclubs. Meanwhile the fine and rare spirits are finding a new niche and capitalizing on their old stock to excite the senior drinkers (cheers to Jim Murray, whose much-respected World Whisky Bible seems to pick up more buzz every year).
It seems that the wine industry is behind in terms of innovation. Part of the problem is the stereotype of whom wine is actually for. Try to picture the general wine drinker, and you will hardly ever think of college students the way you think of them holding onto their beers and cocktails. Wineries and shops are constantly relying on the senior drinkers and people with the highest purchasing power for patronage. We strongly believe in this category but the truth is that expensive and rare wines represent less than 3% of the total production. Having said that, wine distributors have to find new opportunities to market wine as an affordable product that is just as fun as other drinks and healthy too.
This is the general idea behind Wine Fiesta 2015: to promote quality wines for every pocket and to further enrich the Philippine market by bringing in labels from all over the world. We’re bringing in people from all stages of the life of wine to tell their stories—from the wineries as great and old as Schloss Gobelsburg from Austria to houses as influential as India’s Grover Zampa! With fifteen wineries representing seven countries and over a hundred labels to taste, we hope that Wine Fiesta will open the doors of the wine world to the latest generation.
Wine Fiesta 2015 is a regional event organized by The Straits Wine Company (www.straitswine.com.ph; +632 757 1180). It will kick off in Singapore on October 22, reach Manila on the 27th, and close in Malaysia on October 30.