Why do major wineries think Millennials are chumps?
From weak attempts at disruptive labels to flat storylines, winemakers are yet to truly connect with the biggest wine buying group
Carnivor Cabernet is a wine designed for men in their late twenties and early thirties. Every detail, characteristic, is a descriptor most millennial males will describe to you as their perfect wine. Big, bold, rich, thick, extremely deep and dark. It is a big wine for carnivorous young men who want to “devour life” (their words not ours). You could argue that Carnivor are giving millennial men what they want in wine, and taking a huge piece of the biggest segment of the wine industry with it.
Then you read this review on Wine Enthusiast, and you notice something very different. The reviewer gave the wine 90 points, making it a very good wine by their standards. At a price point of around $15, Wine Enthusiast made this one of their “best buys”. Go further down the page and you read what people really think about the wine, and it does not make for very good reading. A couple of reviews claim that the wine made them sick, and at the very least described it as unpleasant, and a joke. An entry wine at best, for people not too familiar with wine, or starting out their wine journeys. Also and example of a wine rating where the reviewer is just plain wrong, and really disconnected with braoder wine drinking public.
What they have created here is the Bud Light of wine.
Carnivor is not alone. As Letti Teague describes in her article in the Wall Street Journal, millennials are often being sold mediocre wine that has a story to tell, or something unique, ahead of better wines. It is marketed towards younger men in their twenties and thirties “cool thinkers, doers, and entrepreneurs” as they put it on their Facebook page who “Devour Life,” whatever that means. Smiling people at cool events, DJs, sparklers, and hipster eyewear. It is a wine meant for a night out, and like so many drinks that are at the center of a wine out, it is no surprise that it gives you a headache afterwards. A wine that is popular because it is popular, says it is cool because it is cool, and focuses more on parties than delivering something worth drinking, kind of makes them the LMFAO of wine. Remember LMFAO? Yeh.
The problem is not us as millennial wine drinkers, but rather wine marketers who are playing millennials for chumps, and they should be very careful about that. Millennials are extremely thirsty, we drink on average 3.1 glasses of wine per occasion according to Wine Spectator but we are also thirsty for knowledge. Francis Coppola’s Vendetta is another such wine that puts up a few gimmicks to attract younger drinkers. Their website asks you to “knock three times” before you can enter. Really? Are we being treated like children who are allowed a sip of wine at dinner time? The name invokes The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola’s crime world epic. It is a bottle sold in a bag that has three bullet holes. It looks dark, it looks menacing, and it looks like a wine that is way below its $25 price point. Millennials want to drink better wine, but they do not want to be suckered into paying more for it. Sure, our tastes are not as developed as our older compatriots, but our demeanor is to explore more wines than anybody, because it is a big fucking world of wine! Arguably, will that not make us more sensitive, and more scrutinizing of wine in due time as we become exposed to a greater variety.
To be absolutely fair, there are so many wineries that are favorites amongst younger wine drinkers, because of their amazing marketing. The Prisoner is one such winery. Their mission is to work with passionate winegrowers who are devoted to the best grapes. Their winemakers create wines that are thought provoking and approachable. Fantastic! Somewhat of an entry wine, something you can drink easily enough, and yet complex enough for you to grow with it ad keep it as a favorite for a long time. It also has something that we love, devotion. Devotion to creating a better experience is what we love in wine.
We as millennials want wines that elevate our experiences, elevate the occasions in which we are drinking, not just to be a part of them. We are open to innovations in wine. We strive to have a deeper connection with wine, because for us wine is the drink that is at the very heart of our social connections. This applies to more than just wine, but any business involved in the wine industry who can connect with us, and help to connect with each other will earn our adoration, our appreciation, and our hard earned cash.