It’s Not “Hipster” If It’s Already “Mainstream” (On Delectable And The Changing Tastes Of Today’s Fine Wine Consumers)

Vinted on July 7, 2015 binned in commentary, wine news

Last week, one of the nation’s only real newspapers (the New York Times) published a little piece about the popular wine review mobile app Delectable. What I found most interesting about the article was the discussion of Delectable’s user trend data with the company’s resident wine pro, Julia Weinberg.

Here’s a look at the Delectable data as graphed by NYT:

Delectable user data

image: NYT

And here’s what they had to say about wine consumption trends suggested by those data:

“…wines from the Loire Valley in France and Piedmont in Italy — again already favored among the wine pros — have become slightly more popular among regular users, while interest in the typically bolder wines of Tuscany and especially Bordeaux has fallen. Ms. Weinberg said that does not necessarily mean that drinkers are souring on Tuscany and Bordeaux but rather that they are consuming a broader array of wines. ‘It’s always a tricky question,’ she said. ‘Are these kind of higher-acid, lower-alcohol hipster wines taking over? Or is there just so much more access to a greater diversity of wines? One of the reasons why wine is so exciting these days is there’s so much more in the mix.'”

I’ve got a problem with this.

Not because I question the data, but because we have people referring to higher-acid, lower-alcohol wines as “hipster.” It’s not hipster if it’s already mainstream, folks…

First, let’s clear up the semantics:

hip·ster1
noun

informal
noun: hipster; plural noun: hipsters
  1. a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.

The trouble here is that we’re still viewing higher-acid wines as outside of the norm, when they easier to find at every price level than at any other point in the last two decades.

Not only that, but calling them hipster suggests that they are outside of the latest fashion, when higher alcohol, lower acid takes on wines are actually part of a previous trend in fine wine. The latest trend/fashion is higher-acid, lower-alcohol wine, folks.

You can challenge that view, of course, but it’s backed up by some very large producers who retooled their entire lineup of wines to cater to that trend. Over two years ago. Just sayin’.

Incidentally, the NYT article makes the mistake of seeing the Delectable user base as one big market, which has some value for sure but if you want to draw more relevant conclusions, carve the data up by market segments, of which there are several in the U.S. alone. You want to be hipster? Start peddling low acid, high alcohol wines in the big cities on each coast of the U.S.  That’d qualify you as a hipster in those parts. In Texas? Not so much.

So let’s not go too cray-cray on drawing conclusions from this just yet. I think Weinberg hits the bull’s eye when she notes that what the data most likely tell us is that wine is a more exciting field now for consumers than it’s ever been, hipster monikers be damned.

Cheers!

 

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    Comments

  • Kyle Schlachter


    “cray-cray??” I know your cartoon is of a younger, less-gray, you, but when did you turn into Kim Kardashian??

    Other than that, we cool. ;)

    • 1WineDude


      Kyle, wait until you see my selfies…

      • Kyle Schlachter


        I know, you’ve been posting a lot of them lately!

        • 1WineDude


          Yeah, but I still have yet to unleash the “booty” shots, bro!

  • dcloafer


    I think you underestimate the stranglehold that big, high-alcohol, low-acid wines still have over the vast majority of American wine consumers, even here on the east cost. Yes, among wine nerds, acid-driven wines from obscure regions are all the rage. But it’s easy to lose perspective when you spend your time among fellow wine nerds and read lots of wine blogs.

    When you’re on the forefront of wine trends, you’re exposed to certain things a long, long time before they have time to percolate up to truly mainstream drinkers.

    I fall into this trap all the time myself, though, thinking that a trend is about to peak and die, when in reality it hasn’t even reached mainstream America.

    • 1WineDude


      @dcloafer – Understood. We are speaking of fine wine here, I think, and not bulk, commodity, or bargain levels. Bottom line is enough has changed on all the levels for major producers to (at least slightly) retool their production.

  • SAHMmelier


    And what are your conclusions about Texas wine drinkers? :)

    • 1WineDude


      Sahm – no judgements here! :-) Just recognizing that it’s big steak country, with big red wines naturally being a go-to dining/pairing choice.

  • Jameson Fink


    Joe,

    I agree with dcloafer. Just look what Meomi sold for and how much wine they are making. Not to mention Apothic, Menage a Trois, and all the huge brands who rolled out wines labeled “sweet” (Korbel, Yellow Tail, to name a few). These brands aren’t going to retool production anytime soon; there would be a riot.

    Jameson

    • 1WineDude


      Jameson, we might be talking apples and oranges here. That assumes the wine market isn’t big enough for multiple styles being popular and profitable (it is), and ignores the fact that other enormous volume producer have in fact already gone in the direction of fresher wines…

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