The tide is already shifting, and how we learn about wine needs to shift too.
Absolutely agree! The old guard is rapidly becoming dated. Remaining disconnected from the modern consumer is harmful to the industry overall -- I think might by this book though for my kids so they understand what mommy does for work 😂
Thank you for this excellent take. Not only are the wines in much of traditional wine education not what many people are drinking anymore (or can even afford) but the courses themselves aren’t updated often enough to keep up or allow for products with local relevance - like in our case Canadian wine. I teach in a culinary school with a lot of international students so I try and introduce what students can expect in the better and the most cutting-edge restaurants here and when they return home. As an importer as well, the struggle is real to sell what sommeliers want to drink vs what can move on a menu in many places.
Unfortunately sponsorships and the paid advertising is all done (here at least) by the big companies and absolutely dictates what ends up on the shelves of the monopoly where I live. Hint: it’s a lot of high-scoring and boring same old same old.
I appreciated the manga series of Drops of God. It is a very traditional wine education, but it goes a lot deeper than I might have imagined would be in a manga series. The Apple+ series eliminated all of the wine education from the storyline, which was ironic given that's why the creators made the manga to begin with, but in truth it likely made for a better story and a better experience in that medium.
I always say that the main change is how much more important stories are now. The stories of the winemakers, the importers, the bars, restaurants and shops that sell the stuff. It's no longer about "do I like Cabernet Sauvignon" and more "do I feel a connection to this winemaker / the shop I bought the wine from."
I definitely feel the same sentiment as you do Jason Wilson, as even in this remote corner of the world (Taiwan) wine, over the past 5-6 years has gone through a gradual, but massive change. When I started going into a deep dive about wine around 2012, what was available, sought out and enjoyed was the "classics". Fast forward 11 years later & at wine fairs/expos and in wine shops you can find Turkish, Georgian, Romanian, Greek, Serbian, Czech wines, funky Austrian wines, orange/amber wines, etc.
I was at a tasting of wines from the Weinviertel at a chic wine bar, and was conversing with some of the other customers and she was telling me that she enjoys Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon. I felt that "Wow, things have really changed recently in wine consumer habits here in Taiwan". So if traditional markets in Asia are embracing the new & exciting, I can imagine it's even more so the case in the States, Europe and other places.
Your question is an interesting one, but I think that it might have to do with the vested interests of, pardon the term "the old guard" of wineries and regions and their relationship to the WSET and the Court of Master Sommeliers and other professional training institutes. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with getting professional training and getting a foundation or a framework, but then one has to venture out and explore the world of possibilities that exist in the wonderful world of wine.
But, it does take a bold and self-confident wine geek to say "I am going to enjoy what I want and what my palate is telling me, and be informed by the wine media; but not follow it blindly". I do think thought that now with YouTube, social media the conversation has changed for people 50 & under being informed and knowledgeable, rather than only listening to the, dare I say it "gatekeepers. Great post and keep up the good work.
Are you telling me that Perry Como and Andy Williams and Harry Belafonte are not classic rock?
I agree with the general sentiment, but I'd be interested in the even more fundamental question of what you think is the goal of wine education. The vast majority of people who drink wine won't do anything beyond taking a wine and cheese pairing course at their local wine school. I'm not in the industry at all, and I'm finishing up the WSET2 course, which I agree feels old school, but even then it's only an 8 week course, and I don't see how they could fit even more information about these newer wine styles and regions into the course.
It seems to me that for the general public, the goal of wine education would be to teach people how to describe things in wine that they like so that they're not intimidated to talk to people at these new wave wine bars and shops and ask for recommendations. Even if they only know the main grapes/regions, if they can talk about wines and styles that they've liked, then they can try out new wines that also fit that bill. This seems like a more relevant (and harder thing to learn) than memorizing wine maps or cru classes of Bordeaux.
Yes, it's time for a new wine education but let's not hold our breath for it to happen anytime soon. As long as there are certifications and tutored pathways to knowledge and enlightenment, students are going to need to be tested. And that means standardized topics (for essay questions) and examples (for a tasting component). You can't be sending people down all those obscure rabbit holes if you're ultimately going to need to test them before bestowing a certificate. I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that Moldavan cabernet and Gozo from Malta are popping up in Oklahoma wine bars like they were Joe Wagner's new favorite marketing angle, but that's not going to do me any good (educationally speaking) if I'm studying for my WSET in Maumelle, Arkansas and the best wine I can find on the shelf at the Dollar General is the If You See Kay red blend. By standardizing the tests on a national (or international) basis, testable wines get codified and things get pretty dull pretty quickly, all in the name of expediency. Get rid of the certification and you'll bring a lot more variety to the programming, but most people need the validation of having that certificate on the wall, right between the picture of Farah Fawcett and the shot of a Lamborghini Countach.