A conversation with George Sandeman of Wine In Moderation
George Sandeman: President of the Wine in Moderation Association,
interview by Richard Siddle
In this interview, Richard meets George Sandeman, Board Member of Sogrape Vinhos SA and also President of the Wine in Moderation Association, Naming Sponsors of the Born Digital Wine Awards, to discuss the background to the organisation, the reasons for supporting these awards, and how these ideas are being put into practice.
Why do you think the Wine in Moderation organisation is so important?
“Wine in Moderation aims to highlight the pleasure of drinking wine in a way that is in line with a healthy lifestyle. The message is one of moderation and enjoyment, with advice on how to avoid negative effects of drinking too much, but more than that, with the information aimed to allow people to make their own responsible choices and decisions”
What do you see as your main personal reasons for being involved?
“I grew up with wine and have enjoyed drinking it all my life. Wine was part of a family culture that made it a natural inclusion at meals and family events, always enjoyed fairly moderately.
We made and sold wine for the pleasure it gave, and when in recent years the focus turned to the harm created by alcohol abuse it seemed a natural move to be part of a movement that promotes moderation and provokes thought on how we should enjoy our wine sensibly, moderately and responsibly.”
What are you most proud of since being involved in WIM?
“I am happy to see that the Wine in Moderation program is gaining traction, and the organization has grown into a horizontally and vertically integrated wine sector association focused on self-regulation, education and sharing science.
I am proud to be part of a group of crazy people who took on the wine sector with a message which says “drink less but drink better” and finally (some) people are getting it!”
What have been / and continue to be the biggest challenges that WIM faces in getting across its message?
“The pressure on profitability and sustainability for wine growers and producers is tremendous. The route to market is tougher every year and the fight to get consumer share of attention is brutal. These factors are a direct challenge to the key Wine in Moderation messages of self-regulation and promoting moderation and responsibility. It takes a special breed to take this on board and look beyond the immediate future.”
How seriously do you think the trade takes the values and issues that WIM follows?
“When explained, the trade accepts the Wine in Moderation message as social responsibility, and we all want to be seen as socially responsible and environmentally friendly. The issue is that the Wine in Moderation message seems to run contra sense to centuries of previous wisdom. It is the same as the “share of volume vs share of value” discussion.
Wine in Moderation promotes the value of understanding and fully enjoying the wine you drink, rather than just drinking it for alcoholic kick. As a Trade we invest fortunes telling consumers how they can best enjoy our wines – but we do NOT tell them “drink more so you can get drunk”!
Once understood, I am not certain that the Marketing message and the Wine in Moderation message are so far apart.”
How important a role do you think writers / communicators have in endorsing / promoting the values of WIM?
“Writers have a gained a recognized reputation in communicating the best attributes of wine; where it is from, how it was made, what it tastes like, which food it goes with and how it can be best enjoyed. It is a world of thousands of stories that are understood and translated for the reader to absorb.
Within this world, there is one more story to be added: “wine is a culture which is best enjoyed moderately”. If only the storyteller can add this, their importance is paramount.”
Any good examples of writing/marketing that you have think successfully portray the moderation message?
“There are good examples of writing/marketing which we believe successfully portray the moderation message, however there is potential to build on this and continue to increase our communication on the topic.
Multimedia campaigns have been developed in the frame of the Wine in Moderation Programme, for example the campaign “Quien Sabe Beber, Sabe Vivir”, developed by the Spanish Wine Federation, aimed at positive messaging of moderate drinking as the only way to enjoy wine. Or the “Wim over Wijn” campaign recently launched in The Netherlands which tells Dutch consumers about responsible wine drinking and the harmful effects of alcohol abuse playing on the Dutch name “WIM” and creates a friendly virtual person who passes the message in a relaxed and interactive way.
As regards to writing, although there are many articles putting forward the culture of wine, we believe there is still an opportunity to make a stronger link with the moderate and responsible consumption of wine.
By sponsoring the Born Digital Wine Awards brought to you by Wine in Moderation we seek articles that successfully portray this message and ultimately encourage wine writers around throughout the world to include the Wine in Moderation message in their content.”
What steps are Sogrape taking in tackling the moderation message. What do you think works best?
“At Sogrape Vinhos we signed a Social Responsibility commitment in 2008, and have been working to support the implementation of the Wine in Moderation message and program over the last seven years. We are an Ambassador company for the program and have focused on the key areas of education and self-regulation.
All of our marketing and sales programs comply with the self-regulation code and in this aspect we aim to be an example for other companies to follow. In the area of education we have been active in consumer wine fairs offering breathalyser tests and information, carrying out programs of “alcohol in the workplace”, and supporting the development of a Responsible Service program for HORECA in Portugal – in conjunction with ViniPortugal.
We take a broad approach in reaching Trade, Consumers and diverse organisations to introduce the “moderation message” as a way of ensuring the sustainable development of the wine business in Portugal.”