- Wine Column
Posts Tagged Robert M. Parker
Sociology is not that easy to define, so a sociology of wine could mean many things. This is, from my perspective, goodness. It presents opportunities. I want to share those opportunities. I would like lots of people to contribute. Let me know what topics are most interesting.
First and foremost, sociology is about society. This might seem a bit simplistic, but it is in fact not. There is one problem. As I wrote in my Ph.D on What the Net can’t do (2002, p. 10):
Today, many others are ready to throw society out of the discussion. It seems like society is out of fashion.
That was eight years ago. I was talking about sociologists. Their problems were related to some observations regarding networks possibly replacing societies. That was slightly overblown.
I now have come to believe that there is a resurgence of faith in society among regular folks who would be the audience of this new effort. The effort of writing a good sociology of wine that makes sense to everybody regardless of background or preparation.
Networks are fine. They exist. Societies are fine. They exist. Communities are fine. They exist. We are not all bowling alone, as Robert D. Putnam wrote. End of story. Now, to the more interesting starting point: how to investigate wine, networks, communities, and society. But, since there might be doubters out there, I will take one more stab at explaining what society is all about.
Traditionally, sociology, starts with society. However, as the reluctant science it is, all notions are questioned. Let’s say for arguments sake, that there is such a thing as a ‘we” in all cultures. Let’s moreover assume that this “we” is some sort of community that in some way goes beyond the individual.
If we assume that what those “we” sentiments are, how strong they are, how they evolve and change becomes he subject matter of sociology. Surely, that is interesting. Also, it can provide a mountain of wisdom to the question of what role wine plays in our lives, how it became that way, and how it may change in the future.
Collectively, I would say, a group of citizens, consumers, vintners, or critics can change the way we understand wine. When has this happened? What are some social movements in wine? The Garagistes of Bordeaux come to mind. Occasionally, individuals come into play, inspiring a whole generation of thinking. For instance, what were the consequences of Robert M. Parker‘s decision to become a “consumer advocate” for wine in the 1970s? How long will it last? What are the alternatives?
In many types of sociological arguments, society denotes a relational, dynamic product of the continuing production of sense, purpose, unity, and meaning. If that sounds pretty academic, it is, since it was written by one. Nowadays, I would simply say: Society, community, family or friendship gives meaning to your life. This is a fact. Reflecting upon how each got its place in your life, how it evolved, is not only interesting, but essential.
Astonishingly, a beverage like wine plays into this in interesting ways. Let me give the example of socialization. Traditional sociological perspectives include describing the process of socialization into societies, groups and organizations.
In the case of wine, one could imagine investigating sub-groups within existing societal boundaries, such as Hispanics in America, and check how their relationship to wine has evolved. The focus would be on how wine is understood among this group. I would look into the cultural and historical context. I would look into families and the way wine is talked about. I would look at recent trends. I would look at the marketing of wine to Hispanics, or lack thereof.
As I previously have written about in my Color Magazine wine column, things are rapidly changing (see Becoming Rolando Herrera), as Hispanics are rapidly embracing wine both as producers and consumers. The question is why. If you are in the wine industry, you might also want to know how far it will go. These are issues that need to be looked into.
Studying demographic trends alone will not give you the answer. You need to ask people how they feel, look at purchasing decisions, marketing practices, industry developments. In short, this is a research topic in its own right.
However, as a sociologist of wine, one might equally well look into the creation of wine specific sub cultures, such as wine connoisseurs, wine critics, wine buyers, sommeliers, vintners, wine conglomerates, or even specific consumer groups as defined by lifestyle, geographical location, social aspirations, social status or otherwise.
Which of these approaches are the most interesting? Where will I find research is already carried out?
Sociology typically quite quickly turns to looking at the negative aspects of society, such as crime and deviance, social stratification (more so at the bottom than at the top), inequality and discrimination on the grounds of variables such as age, gender, status, race and ethnicity. With wine, one could imagine there are all kinds of problems. Indeed, lots of media attention, research and policy has this focus. In this vein, one might look at alcohol abuse among disadvantaged groups (or among elites for that matter) or gender or ethnicity stereotypes in wine marketing.
However, sociology may also be concerned with social systems at the macro level (family, polity, religion, economy and markets), or social change and social movements. In short, the choice is wide, and a sociology of wine must at least consider most of these aspects, but cannot be exhaustive on all.
What will I focus on? Where is there most data to work with? What is the most interesting issue to delve into? Where can I mobilize the wine community to help?
All of these questions remain open at the moment. How exciting. How rare of an opportunity. But also, what challenge, the most important of which being that sociologists who have looked into wine or wine culture are few and far between. As an example, one of the few web references to wine sociology include a study into the wine industry in North Carolina (see WFU sociologists track North Carolina wine industry). Very exciting stuff, and I will use their data, but hardly representative of what goes on in the world of wine, right? Or, maybe not, just listen to this:
Their survey of 14 North Carolina winemakers in 2003 covered topics such as why they decided to make wine, how they learned to grow grapes, the size of their vineyards and the amount of wine bottled and sold.
These are all crucial questions that need to be asked of many communities around the world. One thing is certain, I will get many different answers.
I will start assembling a list of wine sociologists and works under a forthcoming “resources” menu bar.
- Let me know if I should add something.
- Let me know if you yourself should be listed.
Any input is useful at this stage. As of 5 October 2010, there are only 1,300,000 Google results for “wine” and “sociology” and only 1,160 results for “wine sociology”, of which few are relevant to our concern. Therefore, any emerging work on the topic is necessarily tentative. There are, of course, other data sources, and better searches yet to do. Lots of relevant stuff will not be labeled wine sociology. I have already started to look into it and will be posting references to bloggers, wineries, wine critics and more in the resources section.
The exciting part with pioneering a young field such as sociology of wine, is that there are fewer rules to follow, fewer vested interests to take into account, and fewer schools of thought to navigate. At least, it would seem so as I see it today. The naive investigator reveals his ignorance. Typically, lots of things will appear between the cracks. I would not be surprised to find dozens, maybe hundreds of wine sociologists, if I apply a broad definition. I would not be surprised to find dozens of books that fit the term. For sure, there are thousands of books that are relevant to look at. Let’s see.
For now, I would say that investigating issues surrounding the identity construction of people, places and their passions seems to be the most interesting approach to take.
Let’s see if there is enough data out there to support such an approach. For instance, one way of looking at is would be to say that there is the tension between globalization, localization and branding. The reason is, it is not as simple as to say that large, global conglomerates are bad and small, local producers are good. Both are involved in the production of identity, and both use their different cards (money, spin, terroir, market power, brand) differently.
Having gone through some examples of what a sociology of wine might be, I would now like to turn it over to you, the reader. In a forthcoming blog I will simply list a few topics and ask you to give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Fair? I think so.
- American Dream Bandol Bedell Cellars Beverages Black Coyote bloggers Bordeaux Boston Business Ceja Charles Krug Winery Colormagazine Color Magazine consumer Domaine le Galantin Drink European Commission family business Food France Germans Helmut Gangl Hispanics Joseph Macari Jr. Juanmaker Kelly Urbanik leadershipfrombelow Long Island LongIsland Macari Macari Vineyards Magazines Marita's Vineyard Mediterranean minorities Mourvèdre Napa County California Napa Valley New England new world New York New York City New York Times North Carolina NYC old world Oracle Corporation Paola Valverde Paris politicsofwine Portugal powerofplace Provence Publishing Raphael Recreation Robert M. Parker Robert Mondavi Robledo Saint-Émilion Shopping Social sciences Sociology sociologyofwine sociology of wine Syrah Terroir Tyler Colman United States Wine Winemaking Wine tasting Wine tasting descriptors Writing Élysée Palace
- Bandol Bilbao Bordeaux business consumption culture Family Florence Hispanic winemakers Long Island management marketing Napa pop culture Portugal Rioja Rose social change sociology Sociologyofwine technology trends Tuscany Uncategorized wine books Wine Cities Wine countries wine industry wine production Wine regions
- Hispanic winemakers
- Long Island
- New England
- pop culture
- San Francisco
- social change
- wine books
- Wine Cities
- Wine countries
- wine industry
- wine production
- Wine regions
- @MindTheBridge @aonetti @mmarinucci @SEP_EU @fusi79 @EU_Commission @Europarl_EN @StartUpEU @StartupEurope Great wor… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 4 months ago
- Investor Trond Undheim speaks at Scaleup Summit 2019 trondundheim.com/2019/09/16/inv… https://t.co/WXAejxRNDJ 4 months ago
- Excited about my panel! twitter.com/MindTheBridge/… 4 months ago
- In Disruption Games, my upcoming book, I argue that when you sugarcoat failure, you don't learn from its sting. Wit… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 4 months ago
- Over the next few years, failure will become a necessary growth strategy for any individual or firm. Are you prepar… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 5 months ago
- Lessons from the Drowning in Morses Pond June 7, 2013On 1 June 2013, my kids, wife and I were on the beach during the drowning of a 10 year old boy. This happened at Morses Pond in Wellesley, Massachusetts, the first drowning there in 38 years. The kid was found after 1.5 hours by a Fire Dept diver in waist high water, 30 feet […]trondau
- Searching for Strategy June 7, 2013Strategy is nothing more–and nothing less–than a succinct expression of where an organization is already going. For more, see Searching for Strategytrondau
- 10 Reasons Why Obama Should Appoint Romney as Secretary of Business November 10, 2012In a surprising move, President Obama has appointed Governor Romney as Secretary of Business, in charge of new business creation and with the mandate to drastically simplify the regulations for small businesses. Fantasy, you say? Yes, for now, but this would be a brilliant move. Here’s why. Obama needs to demonstrate what he means by […]trondau
- 10 Ways To Gain Energy From A Long-Haul Flight April 14, 2011Flying used to drain my energy. Whether on a short or long flight, I could not sleep. I could not rest. I felt crammed. I got stressed. I was inconvenienced by airport security. All of this went on for many years. Then, I decided not to wait to be comfortable until I was in a […]trondau
- Beyond Leadership From Below November 12, 2010I recently spoke to a group of Product Marketing students at KU Leuven, the famous and ancient university in Belgium. Despite my warnings that they were taller, smarter, and funnier than me and that there was no reason to think that I should give them advice, rather the reverse, they actually listened to me for […]trondau
- Lessons from the Drowning in Morses Pond June 7, 2013
- It’s Going to be Huge: 2020 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium January 21, 2020The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium is just a few weeks away (February 4-6 in Sacramento) and I am already excited. The Unified is North America’s largest wine industry event with about 14,000 in attendance for the trade show and seminars. Bursting at the Seams The 2020 Unified promises to be bigger and maybe […]Mike Veseth
- Wine, Adapting to Climate Change, & the Peter Parker Principle January 14, 2020The Red Mountain AVA is Washington’s smallest, warmest, and maybe its most distinctive wine-growing region. The warm part has been advantage for most of Red Mountain’s history. But not any more, according to Gaye McNutt and Benjamin Smith, owners of Cadence Winery and the Cara Mia Vineyard. Too Darn Hot Climate change has had a […]Mike Veseth
- Wine and the Dry January Syndrome January 7, 2020It is easy to dismiss Dry January (going alcohol-free for the first month of the year) along with Veganuary as typical well-intended New Year resolutions on lists that might also include pledges to quit smoking, keep a daily diary, make better use of that gym membership, and spend less time fiddling with your phone. […]Mike Veseth
- It’s Going to be Huge: 2020 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium January 21, 2020
- Wine tariff comment period ends today January 14, 2020Tariffs of 100% may soon hit European wines in America. The price of some wines will double. But mostly it will mean that many of the most coveted wines will no longer be available. The comment period ends today at midnight over at the site of the United States Trade Representative. Fully 24,071 people have […] The post Wine tariff comment period ends today […]Dr. Vino
- European wines face a potential 100% tariff December 16, 2019Another day, another wine tariff post… Last week, news trickled out that the US Trade Representative might raise the tariff on European wine to 100%. Oh, and the tariff on 31-pages of other items. Unsatisfied with progress in the aircraft dispute with Airbus, which was the cause of the 25% tariff imposed on some European […] The post European wines face a po […]Dr. Vino
- Bracing for 100% Champagne tariffs December 3, 2019Late yesterday, the US Trade Representative unsheathed a champagne saber. But it wasn’t for sabering champagne in celebration; rather, it was for dealing it a blow by threatening tariffs of 100%. French sparkling wine (not still wine) as well as cheese, handbags, makeup and enamelware would be affected. (See the whole list here.) While that […] The post Brac […]Dr. Vino
- Wine tariff comment period ends today January 14, 2020