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Wine industry ‘needs a BrewDog’

The wine industry would benefit from having more irreverent players in the game like Scottish craft brewer BrewDog, according to one key wine communicator.

BrewDog founders Martin Dickie and James Watt

Speaking during a seminar at the London Wine Fair, wine writer and presenter Tim Atkin MW said: “Where is the BrewDog of wine? Producers should be having more fun and even mock the trade occasionally to make wine more accessible to consumers.

“The UK wine scene is very vibrant now but a lot of retailers are failing to connect with consumers, who still view the wine trade as snobby.”

Atkin suggested a visual approach was a much stronger and more impactful way to talk to consumers about wine than through words.

Atkin spoke of the importance of visuals and storytelling in the wine world, like this boutique Cabernet from South Africa

He also spoke of the need for retailers to create a new wine lexicon. “We need to take consumers’ opinions seriously. Wine is ineffable, like music and emotion so we need to find a new way to talk about it,” he said.

“There’s a tendency to either be very poetic or very conservative with tasting notes. We need to be telling more stories in the wine world.

“At the moment we communicate flavour more than place but wine is made in some of the most beautiful places in the world,” he added.

During the same seminar, Chris Sherwood of London-based independent wine merchant Bottle Apostle spoke of the importance of gauging the level of engagement a consumer is seeking when they walk through the door.

“We try to make people feel comfortable in our shops so that they don’t have to engage with us if they don’t want to.

“All of our wines have a tasting note, a food match and a farming method – speaking to one of us is a last resort.

“A lot of consumers don’t actually want to speak to anyone when they buy wine, which explains the popularity of online sales,” he said.

Sherwood also explained that the merchant is moving away from sit down wine dinners as they don’t provide the opportunity to get to know their clientele.

“We used to do up to three sit down events a week but didn’t find them a good way to engage with attendees as we didn’t know who they were.

“A lot of them weren’t our customers – they were people who were looking for something to do in London,” he said.

“Now we bring winemakers to the shop floor so they can talk to our customers in a casual environment,” he added.

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