Wine touch points are places where the consumer meets wine in a special environment. Where they are safe to ask questions, to seek advice, to try and to experiment. Where the staff are engaging and ready to give advice on type, provenance, variety, vintage and style, and on food pairing. Places where the first seeds of what evolves into lasting passion and love for wine are sawn. At such touch points, wine novices become curious, inquisitive, adventurous. Knowledge is dispensed in a professional yet easy going and friendly manner, and wine and its consumption are demystified. Here the true meanings of wine etiquette and rituals are explained and start making sense, and a consumer is eased into becoming a wine enthusiast who is always willing to try and explore new wines, to seek pleasure in gaining more knowledge on the subject. Punters in such places tend to choose “what else can you recommend?” over “I’ll have my favourite, again”. 

And when there are enough of such places around and they work purposefully, consistently and simultaneously, albeit autonomously, what gradually emerges is a critical mass of knowledgeable, passionate, confident wine lovers who will truly take wine mainstream and make it genuinely an integral part of our culture, in a deep, sophisticated and lasting way. Then you will see qualitative changes happen on the wine scene. In trade the wine aisles will start smartening up. So will the wine lists in the restaurants. Wine bloggers and critics will have their work cut out. And most importantly the producers will compete on the only things that truly matter – quality, craftsmanship and innovation. 

While it may seem tempting to induce the wine drinking by dumbing it down and encouraging the newbies to imbibe it from paper cups and to throw ice cubes in it, this may not be the right way to go. It is best left to the professionals, to inform and educate their flock in all things wine. These are not temples and the somms are not high priests. Yet it is in these touch points where the true magic happens. This is where the memorable moments of consumption take place, that can become the first step on a future wine lover’s journey. And it doesn’t involve sipping your wine with a straw out of a paper cup filled with ice cubes, while sitting on your bed. Try doing it in a wine bar, make sure you pick a good wine, with the help of a sommelier, who will see to it that it is poured into a proper glass. Have a go at swirling your glass. It’s not a big deal and it’s like learning to ride a bicycle – can’t be unlearnt. Take in the aroma. Then have a sip or a swig, whatever you are in a mood for. And see where it takes you. Close your eyes and picture your next encounter with wine.