When chatting to people in the Steenberg tasting room I work at on the weekend I often find myself guessing what wines people will prefer or dislike. It’s a bit of a guessing game but it is rather entertaining. For example a big gruff, farmer dressed in khaki, perhaps looks more like a brandy drinker however he would opt for a delicate Rosé instead. This just proves that everyone’s tastes are so different when it comes to wine. I strongly believe that another interesting factor plays a role in people’s preferences – fashion. Yes, there are even trends in wine.
I first started thinking about this topic when constantly disagreeing with my parents’ taste in wine. I could not fathom their like for semi-sweet wines. So I started doing some research while chatting to people and customers at work. Now for some reason it is always the older people who talk up a storm. And when I say older, I really mean senior people. I do not know what it is about me, but I always find the chattiest pensioners who share their life stories with me, as well as their knowledge of wine (or lack thereof). Firstly, they are shocked that I am old enough to be drinking wine, I mean really I do not look that young but, luckily I manage to impress them with my opinions about “vino”.
Anyway, wine, just like clothing goes through stages as the decades roll on and more than often enough these stages repeat themselves. I find it very interesting how, subconsciously people become accustomed to drinking certain wine varieties based on what’s hot and what’s not to drink without even realising. For example an average person who knows the basics about wine drinking will have an opinion about what is a good wine and what is not. This is usually based on trends. So many of my friends from Johannesburg declare their love for Chardonnay over Sauvignon Blanc, however they cannot tell me why. Personally, I just think Chardonnay is more fashionable in Jo’burg. Of course there is nothing wrong with this it is merely an observation.
As with any fashion trends one witnesses a cyclic movement. Just look at how many times the movements of “retro” or “vintage” have done their rounds in one form or another. Just like wine. Take the delicate and beautifully blushing Rosé. It has made an extraordinary come back since it was last popular in the 70′s. Of course Rosé style wines these days have to be bone-dry to be popular and that is because wine tastes often change with each generation. My parents still reminisce about fruity sweet Rieslings from Germany that they disco’ed to in the 70′s. Nowadays, however sweet wine just will not do, because it “ain’t cool”.