Blog: Chris MercerVinexpo coyly invites consumers to wine Rendez-Vous

Chris Mercer | 8 November 2011

Vinexpo has said that it will next year hold its first consumer wine show, in New York, but the approach sounds too cautious for my liking.

Ah, wine fairs for consumers. It should be a good idea, but why do they all have to get so blind drunk? I can imagine how demoralising it must be to see some halfwit, who probably thinks that grapes grow on trees, necking your lovingly-nurtured wine before lurching, cross-eyed, into the aisle to leech on another random victim. 

I've seen this happen. Then again, I've seen similar sights at trade-only wine shows. There are some huge drunks in the wine industry and they know who they are. 

Vinexpo's basic premise, then, is a good one. I understand that there are concerns about allowing consumers free rein in a glorified warehouse where they are outnumbered five-to-one by bottles of wine. But, isn't the overriding argument that both the wine trade and consumers can derive mutual benefits from talking directly to each other while in the same room?  

Trade shows have their place and so should consumer-facing expos. The food industry is streets ahead on this concept. 

With Rendez-Vous by Vinexpo, what I'm really unsure about is the price. It'll cost US$180 for three days. Maybe I've got short arms and long pockets, but I think that's expensive for the average consumer. I can see what the thinking is: 'put the entry price high and the drunks won't go, right?' Well, perhaps. However, neither will a lot of people who have a genuine interest in wine.        

I think show organisers should be careful about equating serious wine drinkers with wealthy wine drinkers. For a start, some of the wealthiest people I know are also some of the worst drunks. 

It depends what you want, of course. Perhaps Vinexpo really only wants people who are already able to afford super-premium wines. If so, one could argue that would be somewhat short-sighted, given that it is also important to include to those who might be able to afford such wines in the future.   

I think that there are other means to attract the 'right' consumer, besides price. One can control the pre-show marketing, the flow of wine at the event, the opening hours, the registration process, the calibre of experts attending, the security and the supply of adequate water, food and seating. 

You can't stop all the chancers, but you can reduce your risk. And anyway, isn't this a risk worth taking? 


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