Last year, Steve Heimoff wrote about the “poison” of snobbery “that continues to make so many Americans wary of wine.” As he wrote, “[Consumers] can sense it, like a ‘Don’t come in here, you don’t belong’ exclusionary velvet rope that keeps the trash out.”
He went on to explain how the wine world — like just about everything else in our culture — is moving toward “diversity, transparency and openness.”
Steve is right, and it’s one of the most exciting things about today’s wine world. As I explained in my speech at the Nederburg Wine Auction, as consumers grow more comfortable dismissing today’s arbiters of good taste (Parker, Wine Spectator, etc.), the influence of local voices — the staffer at the neighborhood wine shop, the hip restaurant sommelier, the wine geeks who read Terroirist — is becoming more important.
And as consumers grow comfortable ridding themselves of gatekeepers (and more educated, thanks to the wealth of wine knowledge that’s now available online), consumers will be more capable of making up their own minds, confident in their palates and their judgments.
Recognizing that these changes are on the way, Cape Town Tourism recently hosted a very cool event – 100 Women 100 Wines — which invited 100 women from all over South Africa to taste and judge wine, and debunk “the myth that this right is reserved for the connoisseurs.” By all accounts, the event was a smashing success. I’m sure we’ll see more events like this across the world as wine becomes demystified.