Life’s to short to drink dull, unexciting wines

I know the title is likely to be controversial and upset some, if not many, but I am simply tired of seeing so much boring wine! And what do I mean when I say “boring wine”? Well, all the many wines, which are almost- factory produced in mass quantities, that have no personality, no interest (apart from the purpose of having a simple drink or getting drunk), are nothing special or, in other words, unexciting and boring.

If you walk into most of the wine shops in Vietnam, or if you have a look at the wine list of many hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, most if not all of the wines listed would qualify as boring, according to me of course, and there is a very strong reason for it, actually a few.

It all starts with the wineries (which should be called factories, as that is what they are); most of them used to produce decent quality wines, but at some point, and due to its popularity, either had to multiply their production and/or they were bought by a monster company like Pernod Ricard or LVMH, and the factorization of wine started in order to produce cheap drinkable wine, which is not sold that cheaply because a lot of money is dedicated to publicity.

There lies the second problem: these ‘wineries’ become very attractive to importers because they give them a lot of marketing money. This budget is then transferred to the hotels and restaurants, hence we wine lovers have to suffer boring wines while paying full price, and this is sad.

It is actually very sad because there are thousands of boutique wineries out there producing inexpensive but amazing wines, which for various reasons, including not being able to afford marketing money, they never reach Vietnam or most of the wine lists in hotels and restaurants.

The third problem is that many of the hospitality professionals in town don’t know much about wine and/or they give priority to having a few free bottles of crap wine than to having a product of which they can be proud of and that their customers will love, this decision is automatically linked to their sales of wine (and food): many wine lovers will not go very often to a restaurant whose list is full of commercial boring brands, why should we when for the same price we can enjoy a bottle of good wine.

I often get employed to design wine lists for restaurants, and sometimes I am close to screaming about the wines that were chosen before, sometimes because the distributor offered a free fridge, or sponsored a party or… which always ends in the customer paying for it indirectly.

Luckily some food and beverage professionals know what they are doing when building their wine lists, just to quote a few have a look at Skewers, Lubu, Corto, Ole, HCMC Cafe or Mach House. Isn’t it about time that we, wine drinkers and hospitality professionals, say no to boring wines?

BIOAlfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years and has published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com.