On Wine and Optimism

I tend to shy away from making personal remarks on this blog, rather preferring to use this site for rating and analyzing wines. However, in recent weeks (and perhaps as I’ve reached a new stage of adulthood), life events and wine have collided in such a way I can’t help but to make some observations or parallels between the two.

A huge part of why wine is so exciting for me is because it is so reflective of the journey of life. Both the product and process represent a cycle of trial and error, a gamble of resources and timing, and (wo)man’s ability to do the most she can with the environment she is given. In other words, to do one’s best to control an uncontrollable force such as nature and the passage of time.

Even the grapevine is itself a symbol of struggle and achievement. Not only does a grapevine need several years to grow before producing quality fruit, its roots also need to dig deep within the earth to gain the right nutrients to yield the best fruit. It’s much like the human need for education and life experience in order to achieve success and reward.

As I increasingly take these ideas into consideration in my assessment and enjoyment of wine, it amplifies my understanding of the end result in the glass and magnifies my appreciation for the producer. So when I come across top-shelf wines such as the iconic single vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernets by Rodney Strong (stay tuned for my next post!), I can’t help but be filled with indomitable optimism and hopefulness for what lies ahead.

A wine has but one year to develop its full potential, from grape to bottle. Us humans on the other hand, we have the privilege of decades to blossom into who we are truly meant to be. This belief compels me to strive to continually move forward in life, to acknowledge but not be fazed by setbacks, and to embrace the spirit of knowing the best is yet to come.

The Evolution of Wine Branding

I posted this short essay on my work intranet today, randomly inspired and feeling a little wistful of my days studying media and communications back in University. I haven’t blogged in so long (sorry, to anyone out there who’s still reading!), I thought I’d share it here:

Interesting read about the evolution of wine branding!

I’ve tasted many of the quoted examples, some of which are curriculum WSET wines I have to pour for educational purposes. What are your thoughts on tongue-in-cheek labels?

To me, it seems, new-school mainstream wine brands are becoming less about tangible items (physical animals, buildings, totems) with internal symbolism to be deciphered or be attributed individual meaning by the consumer.

Rather, brand imagery is moving more toward literal, spelled-out representations of mood-driven, emotional concepts meant to quickly convey a trope or state of mind. Newest-wave wine brands are essentially capturing the spirit of their target consumer by becoming their own memes. White Girl Rosé, anyone?


(Photo of Josh Ostrovsky AKA @thefatjewish – owner and face of the White Girl Rosé brand. Photo credit: NY Daily News)

In today’s hyper-speed consumer’s world where one must get the message across in 0.01s, the brand itself is assuming the traditional role of advertising. Consumers are now the new advertisers because we now can and do a better job of spreading the word on our own.

We are far better able today, globally, to have an equal and mutual understanding of societal trends because oversharing and condensing information into the smallest nugget possible is the new norm. (For where is the fun to be had in emailing or phoning people in groups or individually, versus telling the world something quickly via text message, tweet/Vine, Instagram, or Snapchat? Moreover, why reiterate an idea using one’s own words, when one can simply regram and retweet?)

Verily, we, and technology, can process a lot more information in shorter times than ever before. We are now able to pack so much more meaning into so few words because we’ve collectively seen and heard, and most importantly, agreed on, the news happening around the world. (The dress was blue and brown!)

Even in the retail world – ideas that were internal and needed explaining to the consumer – we’ve caught on so fast that BOGO is no longer a foreign concept to us.

With regard to this article, it would seem the beverage alcohol world is embracing the “meme-ified” approach particularly as Millennials (who are straddling that divide between modern and postmodern marketing) age and make way for the nascent Generation Z (who are the pulse of new and cool, and embody the driving force behind the quickening pace of social change) to become the next fleet of new drinkers.

Marshall McLuhan’s old chestnut, “the medium is the message” still rings true today. It’s just that marketers must reshape the message to accommodate the new mass media.

Isabel Mondavi Carneros Estate Pinot Noir 2010

Although I’m staying in Toronto this holiday season, I am lucky enough to transport myself to my home of the West Coast through my wine glass almost anytime I like.
This particular cool climate Pinot Noir is deliciously fruity, flirty, and flavourful to keep me optimistic through the cold winter nights – a great wine to welcome the winter solstice and the end of days seemingly shorter than a Super Bowl commercial break.
Medium-bodied, with flavours of cherry flesh, cherry skins, soft red plums, soft tannins and just enough verve to beg for a food pairing (mine was pizza, but I’m sure you can think of something more inspired) – this could totally be approached seriously, but is better enjoyed as a happy, sunny wine. Think “sexy librarian on vacation” and you’ll get pretty close to what this Pinot exudes.
Happy holidays to anyone who’s reading, and best wishes for a glorious 2015!