the big squeeze

Monday, April 26, 2010

The power went out just as I was about to write my blog the other day. I found myself stuck for several hours with old technology – a book. It had some interesting comments on the wine market. Let me give you a few choice quotes. I have not changed anything below other than to compress the quotes and delete a few place names.

“The marked upsurge in the drinking of table wine during the past two decades has been striking; what formerly was part of a civilized way of life enjoyed mainly by the more well-to-do classes, has now, much to everybody’s benefit, spread to a broad cross section of the community.

“Alas, the good things of life are only too short-lived, and a succession of governments have raised the taxes on table wine imports no less than nine times! Thus the drinking of table wine, an altogether wholesome and agreeable occupation and one which adds greatly to the pleasure of life, has now become quite an expensive pastime.

“As a direct consequence of all these depressing levies, the ‘amateur’ is being forced to consume the more humble varieties such as branded table wines, some of which are quite good. But all such varieties during the course of their production and distribution are subject to those soulless gentlemen known as accountants or industrial consultants, whose aims are influenced more by the slide rule and marketing procedures than by outmoded ideas such as quality or the taste of an individual wine.

“As a direct consequence perhaps of the increasing taxation, there may have been too many wine merchants chasing too few customers [which] has resulted in the swallowing up by larger organizations of quite a number of the good old-fashioned wine firms. Because of the attitude of some of the powerful concerns with their restricted selection, this may well prove to be the point of re-emergence for the independent wine merchant, who loves the article he sells for its own sake, who seeks out comparatively unknown individual wines to please those who are really interested, and does not necessarily choose names for which there is public demand.

“Fortunately there still remain a small number of such firms and, what is more encouraging, there are even one or two new ventures being bravely launched by young enthusiasts. All of these deserve every encouragement, and happily for them, there are still a number of battered but undefeated wine lovers who have little desire to purchase the wares on offer on the shelves of the supermarkets.

“As with every other commercial article, all wine is made and sold for profit, but the old fashioned merchants were dedicated craftsmen having a pride in their trade who paid the greatest attention not only to quality at the time of purchase, but also took particular care subsequently. What a contrast to the way the bulk of table wine in now banged out along the bottling lines as it if were Coca-Cola or something similar.”

PG: Good rant, huh? Pretty timely too, I would say. That’s our old pal Harry Waugh, fulminating on the British wine market of the late 1960s in his book “Pick of the Bunch”. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

1 comment:

1WineDude said...

I'd add that the state of wine today might actually be quite a bit better than during that 1960s analysis! Cheers!

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