One of my pet peeves is wine’s lack of impact in popular culture. Celebrity chefs get lots of traction — even fictional cartoon rodent chefs (have you seen the Disney film Ratatouille?). Celebrity winemakers? Not so much.
Wine shouldn’t try to simply imitate food, of course, Watching Michel Rolland micro-oxygenate a tank of Merlot will never be as much fun as watching Julia Child throw together a pot of Boeuf Bourguignon. If we want to reach potential newbie wine drinkers, I think wine needs to go where they are and to connect in as many ways as possible.
Wine is so often an afterthought. I bemoaned the fact that wine had no particular pride of place in Stanley Tucci’s hit television series Searching for Italy, for example. A wasted opportunity for sure!
Bordeaux on the Nile?
So I am pleased to see the efforts that Bordeaux producer Chateau Malartic-Lagravière, which is working very hard to position its fine wine where it can be seen and appreciated by a diverse audience. The white wine, for example, appears in the second season of the Netflix series Emily in Paris. And the red wine is featured in the recently released big-budget 20th Century Studio version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
Why Death on the Nile? A press release suggests that the Bonnie family that owns the Chateau connects with the film’s chief protagonist, fellow Belgian countryman Hercule Poirot. Perhaps. But I have to think the luxury setting in which the film’s action unfolds is an appealing frame for a luxury Bordeaux wine.
Consumers need a nudge to put wine on their minds and I congratulate Chateau Malartic-Lagravière for taking the initiative. Product placement, however, is just one element of a potential initiative to connect wine culture with the interests and lifestyles of today’s consumers.
Wine First, Please!
Sue and I have been impressed for the early efforts of a group producing a public television series called Wine First, for example. The idea, I think, is that when most people go to a restaurant they pick their meals first and then choose a wine. But when YOU dine out, I’ll bet, at least some of you study the wine list first, choose the wine you want, and they pick food to go with it. Wine First.
The series format takes a wine first approach. The hosts visit a wine region (the Mosel, for example), stopping at three wineries to choose wines that captures the essence of each place — plus a regional food ingredient. A local restaurant chef is then challenged to prepare dishes that will highlight the wines — the wines are the star. The local wine producers evaluate the imaginative pairings that result and render a wine first verdict. Sue and I really enjoyed the programs and hope the multinational series comes back for a second season.
So far so good. But there is a lot more work to be done to get wine more clearly on the radar of the next consumer generation. In the meantime, remember that it is not telling the world how wine tastes (or is made) that will be the key to future growth. What’s important is how it makes you feel.
I thought you might enjoy viewing the trailer for Death on the Nile.
You make such good points Mike. It makes me realize that when we go out to eat we do choose the food first and then match a wine to go with it. At home we are much more likely to choose a wine for its own sake.
ooh, I can’t wait to watch the PBS series. Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn’t heard of this one before!