Fair Suck of the Sav

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Debbie Byrom

Seems to me the Sav has had its day. We’ve been drinking Sauvignon Blanc like it’s going out of fashion for the last 10 years or so, and now, well now it is going out of fashion. While there have always been people who have been less than a fan of the ‘cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush’ flavours, anecdotally it appears that more people are adopting an anything but Sav stance – entirely reminiscent of Chardonnay’s fall from grace in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. Perhaps it’s not too late, so far I haven’t heard of any children called Sauvignon, something tells me that was the death knell for Chardonnay.

The whims of the group mentality of wine drinking are fickle and those of white wine drinkers in particular even more so. This must be the price to pay for being the entry point to wine drinking; when you are the drink of choice of the fashion conscious female you are going to have to live with being out of fashion. Women seek new things and those things which are common are generally viewed as being less attractive. Men are comparatively more comfortable to be part of a group hence the longevity and strength of beer brands and their drinker’s loyalty. Like most social trends the change will be measured in years rather than months. Have you noticed over the last couple of years a slow insurgency of Pinot Gris? This, the white bread of wines, notable for having a flavour which is inoffensively absent of flavour.

Chardonnay also seems to be experiencing something of a comeback and it has evolved into the white of choice amongst those who consider themselves thinking drinkers and above the whims of fashion. Except all the thinking drinkers seem to be doing the same thing. The thing is, whether you like it or not, what you choose to drink says something about you – and more often than not you will choose to drink something different when you are out at a bar than you would normally drink at home. Alcohol choice is one of the most conspicuous forms of consumption, one of the most highly image driven and consequently one of the most easily stereotyped. Can you get an image of who might drink a fruity vodka RTD? A Woodstock and cola? A Stella Artois? A Canterbury Draught? The most socially acceptable drink for the average woman is white wine in what ever varietal is the most popular at that time. You’ll find the biggest selling wine at pretty much any bar is the second cheapest Sauvignon Blanc; the Toyota Corolla of beverages. One of the interesting things is that past the first sip most people don’t really taste what they are drinking. In beer it’s even worse – some people will swear black and blue that they only drink one brand and the others taste like (insert expletive of your choice). In a blind taste of three lagers the average drinker is no better at naming a brand of beer than chance would dictate. It’s the ultimate example of style over substance. Not that there is anything wrong with the substance of course. If you enjoy it and it makes you happy what is really wrong with identifying with a brand based on its image rather than on its product? The only issue is that we all think that we are smarter than to buy into the hype.

Unfortunately there are so many products out there that prove that that’s not true. A different category but a good example none the less – Chit Chats, apparently, always win hands down in blind tastings but Tim Tams are far and away the bigger seller… So what do I drink and what does it say about me? I tend to drink beer over wine and usually it will be a slightly more unusual beer – by which I mean not a lager or it’s slightly browner more traditional kiwi cousin. If I do drink wine I’m quite partial to a Gewürztraminer, I will admit thought that when forced to pick in a hurry or around people I don’t know I revert to the second cheapest Sav. If I’m going to be brutally honest I’d want someone to look at my drink and think to themselves “Hey, that girls not drinking the second cheapest Sav, maybe she’s an interesting and vibrant individual snowflake”. But then again, I do drive a Toyota Corolla.

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3 thoughts on “Fair Suck of the Sav

  1. I am typically a Sauvignon Blanc drinker – I don’t tend to like chardonnay unless it is very refined and therefore seriously expensive and I rarely drink red. I don’t like the older style green sauvs but pour me a glass of Astrolabe, The Ned or other good sauvignans and I am as happy as can be.

  2. I refuse to stereotype varietals or blends. I have had some shocking chardonnay’s and some exceptionally good ones. Likewise, there are bad rieslings and delightful ones. It all depends on the quality of the wine. And when I look at a wine list, that is what I will look for first. The same goes for buying wine to drink at home. Needless to say, our wine collection is quite eclectic.

  3. I really enjoy Sauvignon Blanc to drink but then I also really enjoy Riesling Chardonnay Gewurtztraminer and Viognier. I don’t mind Pinot Gris but it would probably be at the bottom of the white list. To me it is all about the occasion and what I am eating and the weather…I really like to mix it up.

    My friends are an easy going bunch but I do find that Riesling is not as popular with them – I can’t really understand why?