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Published reports say that the conventional wisdom at Vinexpo Americas 2004, a wine trade fair being held in Chicago, seems to be that if French vintners want to grow their business in the US, they need to start producing the simpler wines that American consumers prefer.

"We are talking to the average consumer using a language he doesn't understand and isn't interested in," Jean Marie Chadronnier, CEO of a French wine company, said in a workshop session there. "We have to bring something accessible.”

In addition to the complexity often evoked by French wines, there are two other assessments of the problem. One is that US consumers simply have trouble understanding French wines because they are labeled by geographic region, not by grape varietal. In addition, there is a belief that French wineries have not engaged in the kind of modern marketing programs – which give wines unusual and irreverent names.

France now runs third, behind Italy and Australia wines, in countries exporting wines to the US.
KC's View:
While we think that it makes sense to create marketing programs that make French wines more accessible to US consumers, we’re not sure that it is sensible to make French wines more like American or Australian wines.

We’re not suggesting that one is better than another, just that they are different – and differences ought to be celebrated, not minimized.

To go in the other direction is to add to the homogenization of our foods and cultures, and that’s too bad.

Retailers and vintners ought to work to open consumers’ minds to new experiences. That’s how you build sales, that’s how you attract new customers, that’s how you differentiate yourself from the competition.