Why the wine industry should seek absolution


Not all wine can be fine wine – so our marketing shouldn’t pretend that it is

In a recent Harpers (July18) there is an interview with Adam Boita of Pernod Ricard on the recent launch of the limited edition Absolut Unique. He notes that this is probably “the first time a drinks manufacturer has ever been able to produce 4 million uniquely numbered individually artistic bottles on a production line”. Just think about that for a minute: 4 million uniquely packaged bottles.

As a wine man, I noticed something missing in the article. Not only was no mention made of the product within the beautifully designed bottles, but even the word “vodka” made no appearance in the 1,000-word piece. Now that is what I call an icon brand. We don’t need to be reminded that Absolut is a premium vodka, or indeed a vodka at all, because that is already our perception. More generally, the assumption is that the target market for Absolut is likely to be more engaged by investment in unique bottles than anyone banging on about how it is produced or tastes.

Now let’s turn to wine, and a piece in The Drinks Business (July 25) entitled “Liquid dreams: the Lafites of the future”. A quote from Lily Dimitriou of Tsantali Vineyards sets the scene. “Luxury brands combine craftsmanship, attention to detail, pedigree and paucity, allowing the buyer to become the owner of an exclusive experience”. Fair enough: yet tucked away in this statement we can observe a crucial difference between the marketing of many premium wines and that of spirits.

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