- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

What We Can Learn from Wine Writers’ Mistakes

31st October, 2017

What We Can Learn from Wine Writers’ Mistakes

“..the Vacheron 2011 Sancerre is silken in texture and satisfyingly low-key. It finishes with persistent sap and imposing ripeness, if relatively little complexity let alone dynamic interplay.”

When you read that do you think ‘Mmmm, persistent sap! I gotta get myself of bottle NOW…’, or do you just think ‘Eh?’


According to wine expert and writer Joe Fattorini, 95% of us think the latter, and only 5% of us respond to the overblown gush-fest that is traditional wine writing.


Joe found this out when he was asked to present a TV show on wine – a notoriously tricky topic where others had tried and failed. He saw how important it was to change the way that wine was talked about if he wanted to engage a wider audience. He needed to use the language of his viewers, not of wine snobs.


So he invited a group of ‘normal’ folk to wine tastings, and just sat back and noted what they said. He found that they:


  • always began with whether they liked it or not
  • talked about the wine in relation to social standing (‘this is a posh wine’ or ‘too fancy for me’)
  • suggested what they would do with it (‘this would be nice for chilling out/with fish/for a celebration’)


And when Joe filmed the TV show, he made sure that he used all of these elements when he was describing a wine. And it worked – the show was a great success and has been recommissioned for a second run.


So How Can We Learn From Wine Writers’ Mistakes?

Take a moment to reflect on the language you and your business uses:


  • Do you talk to the 5% of your client base or the 95%?
  • Are you relying on fancy language that you think makes you sound clever (but just confuses)?
  • Are you alienating or drawing in your audience with your words?


If you’re in doubt, take a leaf out of Joe’s book and REALLY listen to how your clients describe their business and their industry. What words and phrases do they use? What’s important to them? What isn’t?


You’ll soon find out how to talk and a write in a way that hits home with the many, not just the few. And hopefully you’ll avoid any talk of dynamic interplay or imposing ripeness. Nobody wants that.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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