A few people are unhappy at how devoid of pictures my website and social media are. Given that life, and wine in particular (supposedly), are such visual experiences, this criticism has a point.
This is down to two reasons. Firstly, my belief that a lot of the visual experience of wine is superfluous - pretty labels, while they do influence 95% of the purchase of a bottle of wine, are not, at the end of the day, the key factor in the enjoyment of that wine or its quality. More generally, having St Trop as a backdrop isn't essential, and, as I have said before, colour is irrelevant. Lavender fields in the Vaucluse aren't going to matter if you're sipping mediocre rosé in a grey, post-industrial wine bar in Detroit. The visuals sell a dream that can't be realised, and this can only lead to disappointment. I do of course recognise that wine has a visual identity, and presentation does matter - but with moderation.
And my second reason? I'm just not sexy enough. Here are a couple of cropped photos from popular wine instagrammers. The kinds with 90k followers, not just 300 friends and wine connections. Invariably, it's Whispering Angel accompanied by tasting notes straight from the company's PR department. My issue isn't with the wine or the blatant advertising or even with influencers in general - it's that the people doing this are only able to do so by exploiting their sexiness rather than any other quality or ability.
Am I looking at the legs or the wine?
Much as I would love to pose in bikinis with expensive bottles of wine, I don't think the followers that that would earn me are the kind I want to attract. More subtly, the photos I take (even the ones that don't objectify my beautiful body) will never have the magic or polish of a professional photographer. I'm not going to wait for four hours at dawn in a vineyard to capture the morning fog, and I'm not interested in 'bottle porn' photos which try and wow by the rarity and expense of the bottle in a brazen display of conspicuous consumption.
For better or for worse though, it is precisely these photos that sell wine. I don't labour under the illusion that what I write or post will be of use to a vineyard keen on shifting another few cases. These lifestyle photos however, will undoubtedly inspire a few DtC sales - 'you too can live a glamorous, sexy life, all you need is this wine!'.
I don't think that's a problem - as long as I recognise that fact, and work with and around it, rather than against it. There's no point trying to come up with these glamour shots, I can't out-sexy the professionals. What I can do, however, is carve out my own niche, and work to my own strengths, discretely, and without relying on visual tools or platforms.