Marketers need words to describe products, especially when the product is a bottle of wine and the words create a tasting note.
As a wine lover and writer, I read tasting notes—those produced by the winery, those from reviewers, bloggers, or on consumer review sites like Delectable. As a wine marketer, I have a growing concern about the current fad for wineries to not provide tasting notes on their websites, in emails, or on any communication where they’re trying to promote the sale of their wines.
Fads Fade Away and This One Will, Too
The idea behind the fad is to not tell people what a wine tastes like, but let them decide for themselves. That may work in a tasting room setting where the potential buyer is tasting the wine, but not so well when they can’t taste it but have to make a purchase decision.
With the shift to more online wine sales, are wineries that don’t provide tasting notes missing sales opportunities? When you go to buy a product, do you read the description of the product? When you buy a shirt, don’t you want to know if it is rayon or cotton or silk? When you purchase a book, do you read what it is about or just buy it for the title? We want to know that our purchases fit our taste — in clothes, in books, and in wine.
I’ve had many wine-buying friends lament the lack of complete information on winery websites. They will receive an email about a wine offer or shipping incentive with a link to the website. Once at the website, they seek out some guidance to help them determine what to purchase — words that will help them decide what to buy—yet they can’t find them. In asking what they decided to do, I found some give up, while others turn to Google to locate whatever review or information they can find.
Whose Information Is It?
That means the winery is losing control of their brand, something we try so hard to build and maintain. Wineries that aren’t providing the information that buyers are seeking are letting any random reviewer help their potential customer decide what to buy. Doesn’t really sound like a strong marketing strategy.
Need more? I have a friend who owns a restaurant, and I’ve helped her with her wine list for over a decade. She said people will look up a winery’s website before they buy wine from the restaurant list for two reasons: 1) to find out the price at the winery, and 2) to read the tasting notes to help them to decide whether or not the wine sounds good to them. When they can’t find tasting notes, they will generally pick a different wine. NOTE: Wines that move slow on a wine list don’t get reordered.
Yes, there are people who don’t want tasting notes, and if you have notes available, they can opt not to read them. But what about the people who do want to read them?
When I asked a winery to find out why they really didn’t have tasting notes on their website, they admitted that no one on the staff liked to write them, or was very good at it. Okay, I get that, but isn’t providing information about your product part of running a business?
I’ve written hundreds of tasting notes, and it is hard work. I’ve had to coax wines to tell me their story, and sometime it takes several days for a wine to “speak up.” But it has always been worth it to patiently wait as the wine reveals its story of what it smells and tastes like, so I can put it into words.
A winery is in the business of selling wine. In order to effectively sell something, a good salesperson uses just the right words to describe the product’s qualities and characteristics. The pandemic has shifted direct-to-consumer sales from the tasting room to digital media—websites, social media pages, and emails. When you think about selling your wine, remember if you want to have people appreciate your wine like you do, its aromas and flavors, tell them…use your words. If you don’t, those wine buyers will find a winery that does.