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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm Dermot Nolan, and I became a Master of Wine (MW) in 1997, and resigned from the Institute of Masters of Wine in 2023 after being an MW for exactly 26 years. I opened a wine shop in DĂșn Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library, which closed in 2018, and this is my personal wine blog. I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article in re the ethics of wine trips and writing. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy since 1990. I was a Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events Committee, founder of the Trips Committee, and member of the Governance Committee. Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Get a life - take a wine course!

There was an interesting article in the Scotsman recently about a survey which showed that consumers are bamboozled by wine. In it, we are told that consumers are confused by the wines on offer and are confused by the specialist staff - this is in supermarkets, now. There are a few things about this survey which one might argue with but the really interesting thing is this simple question: why do consumers think they ought to know about wine?
Think about it - you walk into a store selling hi-fi (this is the good old days, now) and some beardy spotty teenager starts waffling about woofers and tweeters and gain and all sorts of things and you say to yourself "why can't this be easier?" - that was the stock example of the poor consumer retail experience 25 years ago.
But it does make you wonder why we believe that we should know everything about everything from birth - everyone starts out being ignorant about wine but, it seems, only a few actually do anything about it and take a class or a course. That's what I did.
Now, apparently "the average shopper wants information about the strength of the wine, calories and the type of taste - without jargon and with clear labelling." - that seems straightforward enough. Well, the strength is already on the label - it's the bit that reads 13.5% abv. Hmmm, calories - well that could be beneficial so maybe there ought to be calorific labelling. Taste - aha, here's one of the difficulties. Most people don't even know what a blackcurrant tastes or even looks like, as far as I can tell, so just writing something like that down is not helpful. On the other hand, do a wine class and learn to find out for yourself might be good advice.
We are also told there should be "clearer labelling for those who want to buy lighter or healthier wines in particular" - lighter? healthier? If by lightness they mean alcoholic strength then IT'S ALREADY ON THE LABEL! If by healthier they mean a drink in which no pathogen can survive, which contains many vitamins and nutrients which are beneficial to humans, which can help reduce cholesterol etc etc then it exists already - it's called wine.
So, there are two issues here - if you're confused do a course; if you're conducting a survey, make sure you know what you're talking about in advance - this could be achieved, ahem, by taking a class!
Last message - take a wine class - it's fun and you learn something useful. TAKE A CLASS!

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