My previous post touched on how gullible the wine industry (and wine consumer) can be when it comes to gimmicks, tricks and ploys dressed up some groundbreaking new product (see here). The best example of that was the Spanish blue wine craze that hit the internet recently. On reflection, I actually want to retract using that as an example of wine because I found an interview with the creators of this liquid abomination and frankly, calling it wine is an insult to even the lowest common denominator at the cheapest end of the entry-level wine market.
They interviewed Aritz Lopez, one of the co-founders of Gïk, and the sheer volume of anti-pretentious pretension that filled my webpage has left me despairing for wine-drinking humanity if THAT is considered the creative future of wine. Which, by the way, it most definitely is not.
For your edification and delight, a little run-down of the reality behind the blue horror: Only one out of 15 people tasting it would have guessed that it is actually wine. Some even thought it was a soft drink. The co-founder describes it as “sweet, fresh and easy to drink”. The wine is made of a non-disclosed mix of red and white grapes and also has added sweeteners in addition to the blue dye. So in SA, it wouldn’t even legally be sold as a wine, but rather some alco-pop wine-based drink. (Come to think of it, would it even pass regulatory muster in the EU to be called a wine? Open to some expert opinions here because it seems dubious.)
Ok, so now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about what really kills me: The movement against wine pretence itself has become so utterly and unironically pretentious that it has me yearning to for those people with adenoids talking about bouquet of cat urine and endlessly analysing the legs on a glass of wine, just so I don’t have to exit the world of wine entirely.
In the interview, this Lopez character drones on about how they’re all young (22 to 28) and that none of them are winemakers or even chemical or food scientists. They want to disrupt the traditional wine industry, revolutionise it, “shake it up” by providing for the tastes of that segment of the public who do not possess too much pre-existing wine knowledge. He even goes so far as to say that some people see them as “rioters”.
I call bull.
They had a wacky idea with easily attainable public appeal (playing on the unusual concept and admittedly eye-catching colour) and someone had the money to make it happen. Ta dah! Blue grape-based alcoholic beverage, ready to market. They don’t give a damn about making wine more accessible to the masses. They just wanted to make a splash and a quick buck. And for that, I commend them because here we are, talking about blue wine; however, considering it anything more than a one-trick pony is giving too much credit to the blue glop.
Locally, a large part of our industry is still stuck in the Stone Age. Using technology to improve arduous processes is usually met with suspicious glares and mutterings about budgets and inconvenience. Luckily, on the consumer side, we are moving forward (even if it is at a snail’s pace sometimes). People really are drinking better wine and – more importantly – they’re sharing it with friends. Slowly, the consumer is beginning to understand that wine can be for everyone and that is substantial progress.
I am all for innovation. Creativity. Thinking outside the box. Coming up with new and exciting ideas, products and services. My issue is when it’s so clearly disingenuous and drenched in marketing speak which means less than nothing. That isn’t forward-thinking. It isn’t progressive. It’s a con job. And not a particularly sophisticated one, at that.
A last, laughable quote from the interview: “As we always say, drinking Gïk is not just about drinking blue wine, but about drinking innovation, drinking creation, breaking the rules and creating your own. It is about reinventing traditions”. Nope. Sorry, son – a cheap ruse is not how you reinvent traditions. But points for effort.
- Marthélize Tredoux is the co-owner and editor at Incogvino. By day, she helps SA wineries sell their wine in the USA. She won the Veritas Young Wine Writers Competition in 2013.