The recent press release from Amorim and O-I announced the joint development of Helix, the innovative solution to wine bottle sealing. In doing so, they demonstrated the importance of listening to their consumers, rather than concentrating solely on the technology. It’s not about the wine; it’s about me, the consumer.
Let me first make it absolutely clear that I’m not a wine expert by any means. But I don’t believe that disqualifies me from having a view on this. In fact in a strange way I suggest it makes me perfectly well qualified for the job:
- I know what I like and what I don’t like.
- I don’t necessarily understand why I like or dislike it.
- Significant correlation between quality and price isn’t immediately evident to me.
- I have never knowingly had a “corked” wine.
An unscientific survey of friends, colleagues, and their friends confirms that I’m by no means exceptional in this particular respect.
The general consensus within the wine industry seems to be that modern metal screw tops are better for the wine than corks:
- Wine ages better with a metal screw top.
- Corks shrink with age, allowing wine to leak,or air to reach the wine.
- Corks taint the wine.
- Corks have a high failure rate.
- Wine needs to be stored horizontally if a cork is used.
- Screw tops are more environmentally friendly.
But all of this misses the obvious point. As the consumer, I don’t want what’s best for the wine; I want what’s best for me.
The satisfying sound of a cork being released from a bottle is all part of the enjoyment of a glass of wine. And yes, sometimes it can be difficult, and the cork can sometimes break – but I haven’t found it to be a particularly common occurrence.
Personally I will miss the opportunity to use a variety of tools to remove the cork – they won’t be needed with the Helix, just the same as in the case of a metal screw top.
Amorim and O-I have together tackled the problem from the right starting point. They’ve recognised that consumers prefer the feel of corks:
- however bad that might be for the wine
- however irrational that may be
- however completely wrong it is
Ultimately, removing a screw top just doesn’t feel the same. Helix looks like a “win” for the consumer.
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