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Future of wine labels is in reflecting the drinker, says Cox

Published:  27 April, 2020

A shift from traditional appellation-based, heritage and winery-focused labels to those that are “more about the market” will be hastened in the wake of the pandemic if wine is to compete with rivals drinks categories.

This was the prediction of Philip Cox of Cramele Recas during a recent Webinar, where this innovative and somewhat iconoclastic Romanian winemaker touched on changes that would be accelerated by the current Covid-19 crisis.

“The traditional way of selling wine where the winery is the brand, I don’t think that is the way to the future,” said Cox.

“We do a lot of labels that are about the wine, they are not particularly about the winery, not particularly about tradition, they are more about the market, more oriented to be attractive to the people that are actually buying it.”

Cox, who qualified that he was speaking about the majority of wines bought "in a split second” in supermarkets, was responding to questions about the low visibility of either Romania or the winery name on sample bottles being tasted.

He said that younger consumers, especially, are not interested in a story about “some guy in a chateau, farming with horses” but simply want a label they like, on a wine they like and, if both appeal, then “they will keep buying that wine” without particularly caring which country or what producer it is from.

“The French and Italians and Spanish have gone on that whole route of history, family heritage, the region, the appellation, but I think now for the younger generation coming in, drinking wine, while all that stuff is probably important in restaurants and wine shops where somebody needs to tell them the long story, and for wine journalists to know where the wine is coming from, but in the supermarket where they have a split second to deicide what to buy, not so much.”

Focusing on the drinker, said Cox, was the route to bringing in not just younger drinkers, but also those that don’t normally consider buying into the wine category, which is why Cramele Recas – a sizeable producer, accounting for half of Romania’s exports – has nonetheless launched natural wines and is about to start supplying zero alcohol wines too.

“Some other winemakers think I’m crazy doing natural wines, but if it interests people and is a way of getting people into wines, why not? And a lot of people in the wine business say (low and no alcohol] wine is ‘not real wine’, but if people want to drink it, why not?”

"I insist that the wines are attractive to the people that are buying it."