ORGANIZED PRESS-TRIPS… BLIND DATE GAMBLE
Once upon a time, magazines or newspapers were paying all our travel and stay expenses in return for an elaborate article on a specific country or region of production. Those heavenly times are for the most of us definitely gone. Wine, gastronomy and travel writers are now increasingly depending on organized press-trips, which is not always the most ideal solution but surely the cheapest for us. A handful of writers with a world-wide ‘guru’ profile do get nearly all doors open (even if behind some open doors the watchdogs might be awaiting them with a sadistic smile on their lips). The rest of us, despite our passion and (specialized) knowledge, are not always welcome in wineries. Highly frustrating but absolutely understandable, surely at the smaller wineries. Receiving a group of wine/gastronomy/travel (…) writers is a much more efficient and cheaper solution. By aiming on specific markets where the wineries want to open or reinforce their sales, the final effect will be the best. Well, at least in theory. Actually, all those organized press-trips are like a blind date, always a gamble.
Fantastic view on Viña Vik’s vineyards after the harvest (Millahue, Chile)
Whatever the press/PR offices are doing to screen the participants to such a trip, it will never give the wineries a 100% guarantee of publication or sales increasing. On the opposite way, the writers are all unique individuals with an own approach, vision, cultural back-ground and… character! Incompatibility of temperament within a group can always happen. However, for the ones able to stay professional and friendly, the gamble can bring a winning situation without too much risks or frustrations. A certain kind of wisdom and mutual respect is the key, but also humility. Many professional tasters are not really aware of the huge influence of their own cultural, ethnic and social education, habits, preferences, moods, tasting skills, knowledge (and more) on their own perceptions and conclusions. Tasting is always (partly) suggestive, personal and not extendible to others. We simply do not taste the same, do not have the same expectations, not the same vision, not the same approach. Depending on how we have been educated in the wine world, those parameters will be partly or even totally different and the results might be highly divergent. There is one product, but many ways to approach, taste and interpret it; freely translated, there might be one single truth, but we all have our part of it. Organized press-trips will always remain a kind of gamble. It doesn’t cost you much, it is most of the time big fun and you can win a lot… But who doesn’t play the game will never win. It reminds me this fantastic website I discovered by chance during a dull evening in a press-trip: Cheeky Bingo. A lot of fun and excitement, a cute and friendly lay-out, and you can even win real money! I’ll toast to that and wish you all good luck; cheers! Do I hear ‘Bingo!’?