The drinks trade is locked in a bitter battle over whether journalists and educators should have to pay for free samples or visits.
What the Dickens?
The so-called ‘lexicon stand-off’ began when journalist James Fantastic requested a fact-finding visit to a local winery, and was told he would be charged for the privilege.
‘I did say to them “do you know who I am?”’ he fumed on Twitter. ‘And it turns out they didn’t.’
However, the winery in question swiftly refuted this version of events.
‘We know perfectly well who he is,’ they tweeted. ‘We just don’t like him very much.
‘If he wants to spend two hours poking our bladder press, hassling our winemaker and drinking rare back vintages we think he should pay just like everyone else.
‘In fact, since journalists are such a pain in the arse, we should probably charge them all double.’
A Tale of Two Cities
Over the last week, positions have hardened on both sides.
‘Journalists believe that visits and samples should be free because they generate publicity,’ said Morgan Claret-Trouser of the Group of Largely Unprofitable Merchants (GOLUM).
‘But my members feel that giving away £40 bottles of Cote Rotie to someone with a column in the local free-sheet and 60 followers on Instagram is a bit of a waste of money.
‘Even if they have got friends coming round for dinner.’
Handing out samples to everyone who asked for them, he said, would ‘bankrupt retailers and importers inside a week.’
But Parker Roberts of the Group of Boozy Scribblers, Hacks and Industry Taste Explainers (GOBSHITE) said that such accusations were grossly unfair.
‘For starters,’ he told Fake Booze, ‘most of our members have well over 100 followers on Twittstagram. Secondly, why should we pay to promote someone else’s business?’
Most drinks articles, he said, would ‘barely cover the cost of a Kentucky family bucket’ so paying for samples would ‘bankrupt the drinks-writing profession inside a week.’
Our Mutual Friend
A visit to Fake Booze’s local vineyard tour showed that the public seem to be largely siding with the merchants.
‘Frankly, I’m in favour of anything that keeps journalists out of wineries,’ said keen wine tourist, Dave Tripper.
‘Every time one of our visitor group said how nice the wine was, a man who looked like a geography teacher would start asking about Maillard Reactions. Although God knows why you’d give sparkling wine to a duck.
‘Then he asked if the vineyard had a pet gnat. The man was an idiot.
‘I had a look at his blog a month later and I was the third view.’
Journalists, however, were sticking to their guns.
‘I’d be really worried about having to pay for visits,’ said drinks writer, Boo Zhack. ‘It’s so important for a columnist to be able to mix with their public.
‘That way I can tell them face to face why they are wrong, and explain how they’d get more out of wine if they make an effort to dislike 90% of it.’
‘This is a tough time in the drinks world,’ said industry economist Anna Lyst. ‘No-one wants to work for free, but nobody has any money to pay anyone either.
‘On the plus side, I’m sure in a year’s time none of the protagonists here will still be talking about this issue.
‘Mainly because they’ll all be out of business.’