Archive for the 'wine' Category
Recently, I was in a conversation with a Burgundy wine producer whose wines I admire very much. I teased him about how reluctant Burgundians are to acknowledge somewhere on a wine label that a Bourgogne rouge is Pinot Noir (and possibly Gamay) and that a Bourgogne blanc is Chardonnay.
”Would it kill you to add this information somewhere on the label?” I asked.
”Actually, it would,” he replied, in all seriousness. “It would be the death of French wine civilization.”
For once in my life I was speechless. I mean, here we are in the 21st century, where communication is paramount, and you’ve got the equivalent of an aboriginal wine tribe still sending smoke signals.
What is it about wine that makes so many otherwise intelligent, interesting and ambitious people cling to habits and patterns that simply no longer work? To paraphrase from the best-selling business book, here are “The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Wine People.”
In 2003, South Africa’s Medical Research Council not only reported that alcohol abuse costs South Africa at least 9 billion rand a year, but that at least 50% of all road accidents and murders, as well as more than 60% of hospital trauma, are as a direct result of intoxicated individuals (1). In 2007, South Africa introduced mandatory health warnings on containers with alcoholic beverages, as well as a system of rotating warnings (2). In order to assess the effectiveness of health warning labels, it is important to understand the objective of these warnings: are they aimed at awareness and education of the consumer and to remind them of specific risks associated with alcohol abuse OR to modify the behaviour of the consumers (3)?
Research findings all seem to agree on one thing: warning labels and information increase awareness and influence social norms, but does NOT modify behaviour (2) (3). Researchers also conclude that health warning labels can only play a role when part of a larger range of strategies and when they are more varied and more noticeable to the consumer (4). In favour of these warning labels, it was found that consumers who are able to recall the warning labels, also associate with a lower rate of engaging in drinking and driving (4). In an Australian survey, it was found that almost 90% of respondents believe health warning labels should include a FULL list of ingredients, while 75% think kilojoule content should be indicated on labels. A recent headline proclaimed “Bottles of wine and beer could carry calorie warning labels to stop women drinking”.
On the flipside of the coin, there are some that argue that these labels are not just ineffective when it comes to changing behaviours and the impact is either minimal or non-existent, but also do not take into considerations the differences in consumers with regards to sex, diet, weight etc., all factors that will significantly influence the individual’s response to alcohol (4) (3).
While both sides of the argument have merit, we need to decide…
Will the knowledge of the kilojoule content in your favourite drink discourage you from enjoying it?
Do consumers have the right to full disclosure when it comes to labels and a list of wine ingredients?
Will a warning or picture on a label stop somebody who regularly drinks and drives from doing so?
1. Europe Intelligence Wire – Agence France Presse.
2. Health warnings and responsibility messages on alcoholic beverages – a review of practices in Europe. Walter Farke.
3. International Centre for alcohol policies. ICAP Reports 3. Health Warning Labels.
4. Centre for addiction research of BC. A Review Into The Impacts Of Alcohol Warning Labels Om Attitudes And Behaviour. Tim Stockwell.
Elda Lerm is a technical consultant for Oenobrands
Of all the health-related questions that end up in the Wine Spectator electronic mailbag, some get asked with a you-can-set-your-watch-by-it type of regularity. We’ve answered them before, and we’ll answer them again, but I thought I’d address these topics here with the help of Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, professor of enology at the University of California at Davis, to weigh in on the three most enduring topics.
Health Myth No. 1: Wine contains a lot of sugar
Health Myth No. 2: Sulfites in wine cause headaches
Health Myth No. 3: We know what component of wine promotes health
In the one corner, weighing in at about 1500 to 2000 producers globally, we have the organic wine movement, going head to head with the new kid on the block, the natural wine producers, of which France alone accounts for about 400 producers. So who do you back in this fight? And let us not forget the greatest contender…the conventional wine producers.
Natural wines are made with minimal technological and chemical intervention in the growing of the grapes and the making of the wine. In contrast, organic wines are defined as wines that were produced from organically grown grapes, but may be subjected to chemical and physical manipulation in the winemaking process. The argument that natural wine producers have, is that wines from conventional producers become uniform. This means that they lack specific regional or varietal character after the winemaker and all his processes and chemicals are done with them. So why are the organic producers so upset about the new natural wine movement?
Organic producers have spent the last 20 years building up the organic brand, putting effort and money into creating quality products, only to have their reputation, in their opinion, possibly tarnished by wines now labelled as ‘natural’. And how many consumers will know the exact difference between these two competitors? Natural wines usually have unusual flavour profiles and are prone to flaws and faults, including oxidation and spoilage. In addition, very little information is available on the ageing potential of these wines. To add to this, organic wine production is subject to country-specific regulation, whereas no such system exists for natural wine…not yet anyway.
So the natural wine philosophy is: ‘nothing added or taken away from the grapes, must or wine’.
Is this the future of winemaking? Is this just a passing fad? Does it have a future? Or is it a real contender?
Cue Eye of The Tiger music…
Elda Lerm is a technical consultant for Oenobrands
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