Thursday, July 16, 2020

In defense of "clean wine": Wake up, wine industry

Cameron Diaz is pissing off wine snobs
The wine Internet is furious about actress Cameron Diaz's foray into the wine business. Diaz is calling her new Avaline brand "clean wine" even though, as Alder Yarrow points out, it's bulk wine from Spain that's full of unnecessary (but not harmful) chemicals.

I could jump on the bandwagon of wine snobs bashing Diaz in public. I'm not going to spend my own money on a bottle of Spanish bulk wine that touts its imaginary virtue while hiding its origins.

But I won't, because the wine industry is missing the point.

The point is not that Avaline wine is a scam. It might be.

The point is that there is a market for a wine like Avaline, and the wine industry on the whole is not filling it, so Cameron Diaz can step right in. And in that, I say, bully for her.

Look at what she's offering. Wine without pesticides (the bulk wine is supposedly from organic grapes.) But not cloudy wines that might smell like barnyard or re-ferment in the bottle.

She's not asking supermarket consumers to accept bottle or vintage variations. She's offering them a product that she hopes they might find has a reliable taste that they like, that isn't somebody else's philosophical statement, and that doesn't require wine education to understand.

She's not telling supermarket shoppers that the wine is sustainable and the workers are equitably treated, because almost certainly they are not. She's just offering them an organic wine product that she hopes they will feel good about putting in their bodies.

I don't know if it's going to fail or not. I'm not going to taste it, but I read Miami wine educator/writer Sarah Phillips on Twitter yesterday describe it as a little citrusy, a little grassy, decent acidity. She wasn't impressed, but she's a wine professional: that kind of wine is what a lot of  ordinary people want!

This is another case of the wine industry as a whole completely ignoring what millennial consumers (and not just them) have been consistently saying. An increasingly large number of consumers care about what they put in their bodies.

But the big wine companies are opaque about what's in their wine, and unfortunately almost all small wineries are too. They want us to trust them. An increasing number of young people don't. For purity, they trust hard seltzers more than wine. This is not Cameron Diaz's fault. She didn't create this situation; she just hopes to profit from it.

In a way, I'm rooting for her. I am a longtime advocate of ingredient labeling in wine and if more wineries practiced it, there would be no market for Avaline. Instead, I'm very interested in sitting back to see how big the Avaline market actually is, while I enjoy a nice glass of conventional wine without knowing what the heck they did to it during winemaking, or what might still be in it.

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jo6pac said...

I hope Cameron Diaz makes it beside she's a nice person.

Centralas Wine said...

Spot on, well said!
Adam Huss
Centralas Wine

Unknown said...

Absolutely agreed on being more transparent. Also, we need to educate consumers about all those terms --- clean, natural, etc... With Omen nad Oro Bello wines, we have to try very hard to put information on our back label and weirdly enough it's almost a copy of her label

Thanks again for taking the time to write for our industry

Tyler said...

I agree with your overall interpretation of what's happening. But you missed an important part in your analysis, which the vast majority of consumers also fall victim to -- you say "Wine without pesticides (the bulk wine is supposedly from organic grapes.)"

You can use pesticides and herbicides on organic grapes. They just have to be organically-approved products (hello, copper sulfate). And most organic vineyards do. Please remove from your head that organic foods do not have pesticides and herbicides. You are propagating a falsehood that the organic foods industry has gained from tremendously by misleading consumers. You never see any organic company correcting people when they talk about their organic foods being grown "clean, and without pesticides!" Thanks for sharing!