I have often considered Grüner Veltliner has to be considered the most underappreciated white varietal overall by wine consumers. At New York Vintners, we have some great examples of Grüner Veltliner. When dealing with walk-in customers on a daily bases, you find most are completely unaware of the Austrian grape. I have often wondered, “Why?” It’s certainly not for its lack of availability – Grüner Veltliner is by far Austria’s most widely planted white varietal. I don’t believe it’s because of its taste – a dry, racy, and slightly spicy profile can be extremely appealing characteristics in wine. So why don’t more consumers know about it and or drink it?
My natural inclination would be to assume that Austria has done a poor job promoting its wines. We’ve seen similar instances with Spanish wines. Spain produces some of the world’s greatest wines, both expensive and inexpensive, but the country has never really caught on with American consumers as much as it should. Argentina on the other hand has increased wine exports to the U.S. exponentially over the last decade. Surely Argentina’s wines aren’t any better than Spain’s? Both countries’ reds have similar appeals in their dark, concentrated, fruity styles, and their price-to-quality ration on the low and high end are great! I think it just has to be a better marketing effort by Argentina.
A prime example of a wine region making great efforts to promote its wines is Champagne, at least from what I’ve directly witnessed. Last year the public relations/marketing office of Champagne (which has an office in the States) held a press tasting at our store. Their goal was to not only promote Champagne as one of the world’s premier wines, but also reiterate that Champagne is not a generic term for sparkling wine and can only apply to wines produced within that appellation in France.
I think if more countries or regions decided to invest some money and take this approach they would find their wines more popular with the general consumer. Given the state of the economy and the ever increasing numbers of bottles on the market, competition for consumers, store shelf space, and restaurant wine lists is the most intense its been in years. So let’s see some of these countries spend some money on marketing, offer up free tastings in emerging markets, and spread the word about their wines as much as possible. They will not only sell more wine, but the average consumer will become more educated as well.
Here are few of my favorites from the countries mentioned: