How do you decide what wine to buy? The answer to this will quite likely involve price, particularly if it has the word ‘half’ before it. Perhaps you buy because the label has an animal/flower/tree/chateau (cross out where applicable) on it and for some it’s the favourite country or grape variety that matters most. Would PDO be in this list somewhere? The European Union’s ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ was created to protect the heritage of food and drink. Things like Parma ham fall in this category, as do Stilton cheese and Stornoway Black Pudding for example.
The growth of farmers’ markets, delis and specialist retailers such as Wholefoods has resulted in a surge of interest in locally produced food and drink. We see a massive rise in sales of craft beers, produced by an ever-growing band of microbreweries, but when it comes to wine most of us stick to well-known brands where provenance is of no importance. Price and grape variety is. Part of the issue is that most wine consumers see wine as a natural product anyway. It’s made from fresh grapes so what more do I need to know? The wine trade isn’t really helping matters either. The sheer number of grape varieties, styles and regions lead to confusion over what a wine will actually taste like, leaving most consumers playing it safe and opting for what they know, rather than looking towards their more adventurous sides.
The creation of the PDO is not going to resolve this but it at least attempts to protect producers from imitations that could destroy a good name. What is good wine is subjective. Only you can decide whether you like a wine or not, but I like Susy Atkins’ advice in this video, made for ‘Discover the Origin‘, about exploring the wine world by region. Sticking to smaller producers and finding out where the wine actually comes from. This moves you away from mass-produced wine that delivers only on price. Many of us already do it with beer, so why not take the plunge and discover something new in the world of wine. There are plenty of great stories to uncover.