Archive for: July, 2021

Smoke & Woke – Why this virtue signaling wine writer is tired of stupid heavy bottles

Oh dear, is she doing another rant about bottle weight?

Yes, she is doing another rant about bottle weight.

Photo by ookikioo. Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-2.0

But let’s start with some interesting news. Kiona Vineyards, one of the pioneers in Washington State and the Red Mountain AVA, announced that they will be bottling all their wines–from entry-level to reserve–in the same lighter-weight bottle.

Now I’ve raved about the savvy business sense of Kiona before (Winery Tasting Notes Done Right) and you can see a lot of thought went into the move. They’re staking a strong position in a premier wine region and making “World Class in Lighter Glass” a marketing focus.

I applaud their initiative and was equally thrilled to read Mike Veseth’s latest Wine Economist post detailing the moves of Alois Lageder in Alto Adige towards lighter bottles. Most impressive is that the design for their sleek 450g Burgundy-style Summa bottle has been left unpatented to encourage other wineries to adopt it.

But then I read the comments.

I originally typed out a reply to anonymous commentator ACV on Veseth’s site. However, WordPress’s bugginess kept giving me error messages. There was one particular quote (besides the virtue signaling wine writers) that captured my attention.

Yes, as you point out a premium wine needs a premium package. As one restauranteur in Decanter put it “With so many wines available, the strength of a good bottle and label is often a winning formula. Wine is quite a tactile product and people like nice thick glass; it has a feel of history and heritage.” — ACV

The Decanter quote our friend ACV is referencing is actually from Tatiana Fokina, CEO of Hedonism wine shop, and not a restauranteur. But the point about wine being a tactile product is well taken and this is what I wanted to share with ACV.

Yes, wine is a tactile product.

Which is why every time I’m at a wine shop and pick up an obnoxiously heavy bottle, I put it right back on the shelf.

It’s why I sigh every time I order a bottle at a restaurant, sight unseen, only to be disappointed when a fat ass bottle gets delivered. With every pour and every glass, I’m tactically reminded not to order or buy this wine again.

It’s not because I’m “woke,” it’s because I’m tired. Tired of bullshit.

Especially when that bullshit is being fed to me by a winery touting its “sustainability” while the blatant contradiction is right in my hand. That doesn’t say premium product to me. It doesn’t say heritage or history. Its says con. 

It says fraud.

If there was a practical reason for a heavier bottle (like to deal with the pressure of sparkling wine), I’d be fine. But there is none. Zilch.

It’s just pure smoke and mirrors meant to con consumers into thinking a wine is nicer than it is. It’s putting lipstick on a pig and even if that pig is gorgeously delicious, I’m tired of paying for that lipstick. And I pay for it in multiple ways.

I pay for it in higher pricing from the increased bottle & transportation cost.

I pay for it at home if, heaven forbid, I buy a case of the wine and have to lug it around. Even with empty bottles in the recycle bin, I’m paying for that wasteful extra weight.

And, yes, collectively we all pay for the added carbon footprint and environmental cost.

And for what? Smoke and mirrors. A head fake and ego fluff for a winery’s owner.

No, thank you. Wine is a tactile product but when I pick up an obnoxiously heavy bottle, it’s not my hands that hurt but my head. Because it doesn’t need to be this way.

And I’m tired of it.

Sure, there are consumers who feel differently.

Photo by Alexandr Frolov. Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA-4.0

Just like there are consumers who like oaky, buttery Chardonnay and some who would rather drink New Zealand Sauvignon blanc. That’s life. That’s the wine business.

But I do encourage wineries to think about if heavier bottles are truly helping them. If consumers are truly wedded to them as much as they are to their favorite grape variety.

As Veseth noted in his post, producers like Jackson Family Wines have been steadily transitioning to lighter bottles and seeing very little pushback from consumers. So maybe you don’t need smoke and mirrors to convince consumers you have a good product?

Or perhaps you do. Perhaps your wine needs the lipstick.

But if you’re a winery that’s also trying to tout your sustainability cred, you should look for a more flattering shade.

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