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Monday Manifestos
Millennials—They Want “Tastes Good” Just Like Us

By Stephen Eliot

I live with two Millennials, or at least that is what I am told that they are. I have gotten to know them well. In my eyes, they are exceptional. I suppose, however, that most would regard them as fairly representative of the new species that is poised to inherit the earth, those to whom the folks in marketing and advertising these days seem to cede all legitimacy and worth.

I read again and again that those between 21 and 34 years of age are different in so many substantive ways, and that they are the new arbiters of quality. They think about wine in different ways, and they are redefining how business is done. They dismiss aging critics and see through the jimcrackery of their parents’ world, and they crave “hyperfresh” insights from journalists their own age. They are also the targets of innumerable marketing studies that aim to discover how best to pick their pockets.

Now, maybe the two that share my home, and their friends that come by to visit, are profoundly removed from the norm, but aside from the facts that they spend more time with their laptops and i-phones than I do and that they are aghast that I do not respond to e-mails and texts within seconds, I cannot otherwise say that we inhabit two separate worlds.

They value expertise and are quick to question. They want to know the “why” and “how” of things, and they have the means to find out. They will devote time and study to those things that they value. They are not all that accepting of efforts to pigeon-hole them as thinking one way or another and are quick to take offense at those who try.

Now it just so happens that 51% of these so-called Millennials drink wine at least once a week, or so some studies report. I find that good news. It may be true that much of the stuff that they now pour may be fizzy Moscatos or sweeter red wines, but taste is a matter of practice, and practice, they say, makes perfect. Those who come to embrace wine as something more than a means to a quick buzz or as easy grease to the wheels of social discourse are bound to discern “the unique” from “the crafted from the ocean of sanitary and wholly soulless plonk”.

My millennials and I were equally amused by a recent article in the New York Times Media and Advertising section that would have us believe that innovative and “convenient” packaging is the somehow the key to gaining their attention, that because this generation has grown up “drinking from plastic” they are certain to be drawn to “sleek, eco-friendly containers” when making their choices from an ever-expanding roster of new wines. The time has come, the article said, for vintners to target millenials and “think outside the bottle”.

Each generation always leaves its mark, makes its own contribution, but in the end the more things change the more they stay the same. Expertise and experience and real knowledge are still the name of the game when it comes to serious wine appreciation….and what is in the bottle will always be more important than the bottle itself.

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The more things change...
by Sherman
Posted on:1/7/2013 4:59:56 PM

Seems that most of the attributes given to the current "new" generation were bandied about during the 60s and 70s. Nobody wanted to hear what "the Man" had to say; question everything, especially authority; and generally trust no one over the age of 30. Looks like those who grew up during that period grew out of such strident shrillness and learned what we needed to know, when we needed to know it.

I don't feel that the current "new generation" is substantially different; the way they access information is a bit different and more rapid in its nature. But I can recall the look of befuddled incomprehension when I tried to explain the entry-level COBOL code work I was doing in college to my Mom. The sight of a stack of keycards that we fed into a big machine to generate a small amount of info was midn-boggling to her.

The packaging changes, the technology changes and even some of the methodology of wine production and grape growing morphs during the decades. Bottom line is that learning about wine is a process and some folks take to it quicker and more enthusiastically than others. How they get that info and process it into their own lives is a matter of technology, not the substance of it.

iPads or books; Gary V (remember him?) or Robert P; the wine path is as long and as winding as each person wants it to be. The current crop of Millenials will be looking on in amazement and befuddlement 25 years hence ;)

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