A private lesson with educators in China – Julien Boulard

Wine is meant to be fun!

It is said that wine had been consumed for centuries because it was healthier and safer than water, but I doubt that this is the motivation behind anyone’s consumption behaviour nowadays. Wine is now drunk mainly for one reason: enjoyment! This is an essential aspect of wine for me and which I try to communicate as much as possible to my students and the people around me.

Julien BoulardMany people, especially those studying wine, are sometimes too serious about it, thus inadvertently taking part in the snobbery this great drink suffers from. I am not saying that one shouldn’t take his / her wine studies seriously, but that it is sometimes good to remember that wine is, after all, just a drink! When giving a class to Master of Wine students, I remember Tim Wildman MW claiming that the most important thing on the long journey to the Master of Wine is to “have fun”. I’ve always enjoyed studying, and that is the only reason why I am still reading hundreds of pages every month.

When teaching wine classes, I always try to make the course as entertaining as possible. For instance, I have just designed a new initiation course meant for average consumers. We’ve called this course “The Wine Window” (葡萄酒之窗), as it is just a quick peek on the wine world. While this course obviously aims to give keys to students to better appreciate wine, the two main objectives are to have them spend a relaxing and entertaining evening around wine, and to arouse their desire to keep on exploring the wine world, to encourage them to push “the wine door”.

Too many Chinese consumers still see wine as a luxury product, or at least as a symbol of the upper middle-class lifestyle. They drink wine for what it represents or for its health benefits rather than for its taste or the pleasure it can actually bring. Although drinking wine for these reasons may eventually help them develop an acquired taste for it, I still don’t think it is the right approach. Too much emphasis is put on these two aspects (standard of living and health-related properties), and too many salespersons in China still persuade their customers about the quality of a wine by stressing which official or which movie star once drunk that same wine. I am convinced that distributors would further secure their customers’ loyalty by selling them pleasure rather than superficial and impersonal stories. Of course, this implies from the salespeople to make efforts to estimate their clients’ taste, and maybe even to open one or two bottles…

Having fun studying, making classes entertaining, offering pleasure to consumers… these are what wine should be about! In the end, wine is meant… to be fun!

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