FROM READERS: The changing world of wine

Monday, June 18, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:54 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 18, 2012

Rachel Mills is marketing director at Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery and has served the community with local wines for seven years. She has also served on the Missouri Wine & Grape Board marketing committee, working for three years to share the Missouri wine experience.

Most of my time is spent teaching people about Missouri wine. Most of that time is spent trying to convince people that not only do Missouri wineries make much more than sweet wines but that they are actually good, balanced, luscious and well-made wines.

While the Missouri wine industry has long been a player in the national industry, it suffered quite a bit through Prohibition. Now the Missouri wine industry is experiencing a second renaissance of sorts. Since the option for most Americans to experience a winery used to mean hopping on a plane and flying out to California, there are many more people who develop their wine education and experiences at a local winery.

As a fairly young member of the industry, I often find my take on wines a little less serious than my older colleagues. It's not that I don’t take what I do seriously or that I'm not just knowledgeable, it's that my generation looks at wine completely differently than our parents look at wine.

The world of wine is an experience to us, not just a beverage served at the dinner table. Our parents were taught that wine is rare and complicated, something to be enjoyed only by those of means. This misconception lead many of the boomer generation to believe that their tastes in wine or knowledge of it was subpar.

Our generation has taken to exploring wine in a whole new way than our parents. No longer does a $5.99 bottle of wine have any less clout than a $199 bottle. Wines like Mad Housewife, Flip Flop and Barefoot are emerging as favorites of the millennial generation because they offer the consumer a way to engage and experience with the wines that they haven't ever been able to do before. This personal connection with the wine is what makes it such an attractive buying choice among the generation.

Old school wine and food pairings and flavor profiles have been thrown out the window, and have been replaced with the idea of drink what you like and pair whatever you want! From Halloween candy and wine pairing to the popular wine flight, there are no hard-and-fast rules for how to choose wine in a grocery store or a restaurant and the rules on food and wine have gone by the wayside. That isn't to say that the classic glass of Cabernet with a nicely-cooked filet mignon can't be utterly delightful. But have you ever thought about a semi-dry red with that steak? Or how about a sweeter style white with your Thai dinner? 

Above all the human experience and interaction with wine has changed and become as diverse and interesting as the people who have make up the industry. As the wine industry evolves and grows, it is my hope that the prevailing theme among us all is to remember to enjoy your experience with wine and not take it all so seriously!

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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