What are younger people drinking nowadays? Does wine have no appeal for the younger generation? KAREN WATKINS journeys far and wide in her search for answers.
Sipping the latest offerings at Groot Constantia last week, one of the guests, Vuyo Kula, who runs a tourist business in Gugulethu, told me how she was on a mission to get young people in the township to change the culture around wine, as they often added Coke to red wine or lemonade to white.
This after progressing from beer to cider.
It got me thinking about my holiday in Spain earlier this year, where I made an interesting discovery of how youthful disruption – so evident these days in everything from shopping and work to hailing a taxi and reading the news – has even made a Smurf-like appearance in the wine industry.
The La Rioja region in the northern, drier part of the country is world famous for its wine, mostly its reds.
After travelling the coastline and gravitating south across the Cantabrian Mountains the terrain changes from green to gold, from trees to vineyards spread across the Ebro valley.
Our aim was the old town of Haro, where local wineries range from small, traditional cellars to major commercial producers. And that’s where we began, with Vinotec Rodriques Alonzo, and the idea of picking up a wine map (as we do in South African wine regions).
Vinotec offers 84 labels from the surrounding area. Where to start? Red, of course, selecting two between people popping in to buy, not taste, before having quiet time with our pourer, who suggested a bottle of something resembling methylated spirits.
“Forget about red, white and rose,” she said. “This is the latest wine trend and what young Spanish people are drinking, Gik, sweet blue Moscato.”
It appears to be a rebellious break with tradition. This sweet blue liquid represents the innovative side of a youngster’s life. This is for people who no longer work in an office, for a boss or own a car. Instead they have closed corporations, work to contracts and hail a taxi.
An internet search shows that six young entrepreneurs set up Spanish firm Gik to revolutionise the Spanish wine industry. The drink is made using different varieties of red and white grapes from around Spain, including the wine regions of Castilla la Mancha and Rioja.
Anthocyanin, a pigment from the red grapes’ skin, and indigotine, which is derived from plants, give the wine its bluish colouring. Non-caloric sweeteners are then used to modify the flavour and create a sweet drink with 11.5% alcohol per volume… sounds awful? But it’s selling fast to people aged between 25 and 34, according to Gik’s online data. And it’s being exported.
The blue colour has its own meaning derived from a book, Blue Ocean Strategy, which says there are two kind of oceans: the red ones, full of sharks (competitors) fighting against each other for a few fishes (clients) and turning the ocean red because of the blood. The book talks about creating blue oceans – oceans where, thanks to creativity and innovation, everyone can be free.
This was not the end of our Spanish wine education. The next day, we went in search of an authentic wine experience, and, much later, with blood pressure and mercury rising after driving far and wide going nowhere, we ended up at Ramon Wine Estate. It’s one of the most visited ones in the region. Concrete, cold, functional, industrial, founded in 1924, the oldest grandson died in 1966 and the estate now has three owners.
Wine tasting is done by buying a credit card to a certain value and then accessing it by machine. Ramon Wine Estate also sells Gik, a Mar De Frades Albarino at 14.29 euro (R212).
For South Africans battling the weak exchange rate, Spanish wines generally offer good bang for the buck allowing us to indulge in quality vino without breaking the bank. However, my tastebuds were not particularly overjoyed by what was on offer.
What are you drinking? We are coming up for the silly season, end-of-year functions, celebrating a new year, so what will you be drinking?
Let me know at Karen.email@example.com or