Within wine industry circles, there's often debate about style. Winemakers talk about scaling up or down in ripeness or alcohol. Restaurateurs and sommeliers consider which wines are better-suited for their eatery, or different cuisines, or occasions.
I never hear much of anything from consumers about wanting different styles. In fact, when I'm on the road, visiting with or drinking with friends and readers, the concerns I hear most often relate to where people live and which wines are (and are not) available to them there.
Earlier this year I spent time in Orlando with a group of devout wine lovers who also happened to be serious collectors. One friend has a trophy cellar the size of my living room stocked with a collection of blue-chip wines from around the world with a rather remarkable cross section of vintages—a truly impressive feat in a state with a wine selection as limited as Florida's.
In many states, it's hard enough getting some of the rarest wines, and when people do, and start to drink them, it's most important to consumers that the wines are consistent and affordable.
I'm sure vintners hear the same thing when they hit the road. People come to winemaker events to meet the winemaker and taste the wines. I suspect few come to complain.
Maintaining a style that's popular is vital to a brand's success. When I'm asked about the state of affairs in California, one thing I focus on is the fact that so many of the winemakers are either young or inexperienced, and that few have had the opportunity to work with the same vineyard for 10 or 15 years. It's understandable for winemakers to modify their styles as they watch their wines age, since ageability is more important to them than it is to most wine drinkers.
People buy the kinds of wines they like. As much as the pros may fret about ripeness and alcohol, consumers prize consistency, both in style and price.