Fear of Wine

In writing last week about two new wine gadgets currently under development, I ended up wondering: who do these really help? Though I had some doubts about the usefulness of these products, there was no question in my mind about who their creators thought they were for. Consider, for example, this excerpt from one website:

“The wine aisle is long and scary; the beer and liquor aisles aren’t. Wine is stuck in a 750mL glass bottle that makes its contents inaccessible unless you commit to drinking (or dumping out) the whole thing. It feels like you need to take a class to understand what temperature your wine should be served at or what food it should be paired with.”

Clearly, these people are not buying beer in the same places I am- my local store carries well over 400 different brews! However, dubious shopping comparisons aside, the intended target for these words is plain to see: people who are afraid of wine. Those of us in the industry may like to ponder the demographics behind why two companies believe this is a good time to launch a product targeted at people with oenophobia, but a better question for all of us might be where does the fear come from in the first place?

OK, sure, wine is complicated if you want to get into all the details. However, the same can be said about Game of Thrones, and I don’t see anyone using that as a reason to miss Sunday’s season opener. Of course not. Understanding all that complexity may be fun, but it isn’t really required to enjoy either the wine or the show (and, frankly, it probably matters a whole lot more for the latter).

So… maybe it’s not the complexity, or the wine, that people are afraid of. Perhaps it is their wine loving friends. After all, we can get pretty carried away talking about all those details and nuances, quickly leaving a newcomer, if you will, racked off in the lees.

I was recently guilty of this myself. My brother asked for some advice on wine pairing and I gave him a response that was, um, overly complete. Having found sibling advice unhelpful, he turned to the staff at his preferred store and received a recommendation that was trendy, but one that also changed his original food plan. Because I got bogged down in the details and didn’t help him with what he really wanted to know, I lost an opportunity to introduce him to one of my favorite flavor pairings.

Just as a scriptwriter doesn’t try to put everything about the show into a single episode, we need to remember that we can’t cram all our wine knowledge into the tasting of a single bottle. And while our friends can go binge watch 5 seasons of Game of Thrones to catch up with us concerning the show, the same approach doesn’t work with wine. Not at all. If we can just keep these things in mind as we share our passion, perhaps we can conquer Fear of Wine and recruit new allies in our adventures.

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