Swanson Vineyards has become the first winery in the Napa Valley to adopt Vinotyping as a way to guide visitors to find the wines they prefer.
The new program rolls out Monday, Oct. 15, after Swanson’s tasting room staff completed training with Tim Hanni, a Master of Wine and long-time wine industry professional who created Vinotypes.
Hanni, who is also a trained chef, describes much of what is being currently taught about wine “a collective delusion.” This, he said, especially includes the notion that while novices may come to wine by way sweet wines like the infamously popular white zinfandel, over time their palates will “mature” to more sophisticated wines.
“The truth is different people like different things and they should be free to enjoy the wines they want and this includes sweet wines,” Hanni said.
Hanni’s Vinotypes are the result of collaborations with academic researchers on sensory preferences. A combination of physiological and psychological traits add up to his four Vinotypes: Sweet, Hypersensitive, Sensitive and Tolerant Vinotypes range from those who love sweet wines to those who seek out intense, high-alcohol wines.
He has devised a quiz that helps determine Vinotypes by asking questions like how a person takes his coffee, or how much salt she adds to food.
The Swanson tasting room staff all took the Vinotyping quiz, and will have copies of it for guests to help them recommend wines a visitor is likely to enjoy.
The quiz is also available now on the Swanson website, swansonvineyards.com, along with recommendations for Swanson wines based on Vinotypes.
“We’d been following Tim’s reseach for several years and decided it was time to put it into action,” said Chris Cutler, director of Swanson’s consumer sales and marketing. “We want those who visit us to not only learn about our wines, but also about themselves and their own (wine) taste preferences. This is something that few other wineries do today.”
Hanni has previously introduced Vinotyping in wineries in other states, including Turtle Run in Indiana, where owner Jim Pfeiffer reports that sales increased by more than 25 percent after incorporating Vinotyping into their visitors program. This month, Hanni heads to China, where he has been invited to conduct a second set of training seminars for wine professionals.
“It’s time to start a new conversation about wine,” Hanni says, “and it should begin with ‘What do you like?’”