Having worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade, I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty discerning in my beverage choices. I meticulously scour critical reviews, spend my 9-5 working with wine, and then my free time talking about it, and obviously drinking it. I am often willing to indulge a little more for what I believe will be a good product, and don’t believe in gimmicky labels or the brands that are readily advertised on television. Wine snob, maybe, but really it’s like anything, if you spend enough time around it, you know what to look for. But there are always exceptions to every rule.
This little anecdotal exception starts with Instagram. While looking at pictures of celebrity puppies and delicacies being served up in the big city, a paid advertisement pops up on my feed-The Little Grape That Could. The concept was simple: with every bottle of the Argentinian wine purchased, the customer could choose the Canadian charity of their choice to donate a portion of the bottles costs. I was mind-blown- I could imbibe and feel altruistic! I’m only kidding, but I thought the concept was tremendously unique and a great angle to approach an industry that often feels self-indulgent. I immediately went out and purchased a bottle, picked my charity and poured a glass. Now here’s the kicker, the wine itself was far less than impressive. Of course I was disappointed, but it didn’t change my view of The Little Grape That Could, in fact I went back and purchased more. I still encouraged my friends to purchase the product. I was still so tremendously impressed by their program, that a sub-par product didn’t matter, it was the whole package that sold it. Now sadly they only produced one vintage, and I am again on the hunt for products that pair their wine with a social conscience.
This short-lived, wine love affair (a fling, if you will) of mine was all thanks to Instagram, because there is a distinct likelihood that I never would have looked the way of a kitchy-labled, $11 Cabernet. While social media can be vessel to send your message -in-a- wine-bottle out into the sea of like minded Instagramers, the flip side is that not everyone is going to agree with the messages you are sharing.
I was raised to believe that religion and politics were not casual topics of conversation and to always tread carefully with what I say and who I say it to on those topics. I’m a pretty open-minded person, ‘live and let live’ if you will. Needless to say, I won’t be posting any of my political views on here, but I will say this- I have zero tolerance for intolerance. If there is a quick way to lose my business it’s to post something hateful and close-minded. But I digress…
I follow a large number of industry related accounts on Twitter from sommeliers to wineries, to casual wine enthusiasts. One such account belonged to a winery I was a pretty big fan of, they consistently produced amazing quality wines, and in spite of the price point being just above what I usually like to spend, I faithfully bought their products when available. However, late one evening I noticed a post on their account endorsing some radically right-wing ideas, an article that was arguably close to hate-speech. Yikes! The post disappeared shortly thereafter, but the damage was done. In a matter of a couple clicks and a few seconds they had lost a faithful customer. Was the post representative of their company values, or a just a clumsy mistake? I don’t really know, but I suppose that’s the power of social media; an absent-minded user, or a momentary lapse of judgement can be the preverbal executioner’s axe.
My question to my classmates is this: Have you had any make or break social media experiences? Was there a particular post that sealed the fate (positively or negatively) for your consumership of a product?
PS. Here is a quick list of other wine companies who have great social and environmental programs, just incase you need a good excuse to pick up a bottle of wine this weekend