The subjective value of wine

Thursday, 19 / June / 2014

With this article the author reflects upon the need to discover the "maximum value" of wine.

We are fortunate enough to live in a region that makes one of the world's most appreciated wines. La Rioja and, to a greater extent, Spain, are known as leading references when it comes to rating their wines. This is due to their quality and traditional production methods, along with their position this last year as the world's leading manufacturer in terms of volume, despite having suffered a reduction in plantation over the last 10 years since the application of EU legislation.

There is land, talent, experience and culture in Rioja and Spanish wines. As if that wasn't enough, the incoming generations add youth, preparation and innovation. Apart from volume, these elements should provide us with a perceived value as a result, which should be reflected in its sale price.

Leaving aside honourable exceptions, we nonetheless have difficulty in obtaining recognition for said value in international markets, since although we are situated in an elevated position as regards the perception of quality, our mid-range prices are situated below our local and global wine-making competitors. This may be due to the strong influence of Spanish bulk wine, which changes nationality once its bottled at its destination thanks to new technologies and permissive legislation.

A possible way of adding value to our wines, particularly now that we are global sector leaders, would be to work less on bulk wine and encourage more bottling. Denominations may, more specifically at Rioja and perhaps other regionals levels also, need a regeneration of their original concept and seek qualitative segmentation that provides them with additional value. This may apply in particular to those regions whose characteristics could boost value to the denomination as a whole. Everybody gains by focusing on greater segmentation by  value.

Our efforts to transmit the value of our wine should be greater in proportion to regions from other countries that, for one reason or another, have an advantage in that "subjective market estimation". However, the transmission of the value and the culture of wine is only achieved through experience and learning. This is something that we mustn't overlook. In short, instead of lamenting that more or less justified "subjective estimation" tag, let us endeavour to change it.

Learning, experience and even the existence of an ideal, along with the notion and transmission of a culture that lies behind wine which we readily open, transcends the subject and the producer into its complete environment.

The value of a quality wine, of a region and of a denomination may be as subjective as craftsmanship, art, fashion or taste. But even though the saying states "there's no accounting for taste" if we want "value added to taste", we must intensively, suggestively, uniquely and seductively treat, educate, promote, and write about our wines and appeal, in order to win the battle against the unknown and wrestle the initiative from some famed regions who have a greater perception of quality, which thus enable their wines to command more elevated prices than ours due to the simple fact of stating that they originate from one region or another.

Let's transmit value in tasting sessions with professionals that are open to the wine-loving public, cookery schools, quality oenological tourism and, ultimately, open our regions and facilitate access to those intrepid and avid clients who wish to discover information and history about wine culture.

Packaging plays a strategic role in this formula, whose aim should be to obtain the greatest value possible for our brand. The transmission end essence of our message of well-being must be present in all its facets. Its value and perception will be attributes which influence the consumer prior to tasting.

The ritual of professionally opening a bottle by a restaurateur or sommelier, along with their observations and comments (bottle, label, capsule and cork) must be a fundamental part of that transmission of value; and all of us, wine-lovers, professionals and those around them, must transmit that culture of good practice.

Due to their standard or target market, there is some wine packaging that must be unreservedly respected with designer bottles, the highest-quality material or graphic labels, and 100% tin capsules, which are positioned accodingly at the same level as the message that transmits the value of its elaboration by the grower, the vintner, and the story they wish to transmit. A message that conveys love and respect for the land and culture of wine, and which becomes an accomplice in the search for happiness; the ultimate objective of forming a bond with our client. If we achieve it, that will be maximum value.