Tim Hanni MW is a wine industry entrepreneur with businesses that focus on consumer research, wine education, and developing new systems designed to make wine easier to understand and more enjoyable. Hanni is one of the first two Americans to earn the Master of Wine credential and is a professionally trained chef. in the Mix plans to run feature articles by Mr. Hanni in 2011, which will give you a chance to get to know him better.
ITM: Tim, great to have you in in the Mix. You seem to have a number of wine-related business ventures and projects for education and research. One of the statements on your website is, “My passion is in learning and sharing new ways to make wine more enjoyable to more people. My mission is to help the wine industry learn to understand, embrace and cultivate ALL wine consumers.” How do these various pieces fit together – or do they?
TH – My companies are interrelated entities, each playing a role in finding new solutions for recurring challenges to provide mutual benefit to wine consumers and all of the stakeholders in the wine industry who make and sell wine. The consumer research and education missives are based on the same new consumer-centric system and are integral to all of my companies, with the common goal of having more people enjoying wine more frequently.
ITM: You seem to communicate effortlessly with everyday consumers who are interested in wine but who are not what most would consider wine connoisseurs. You seem to have a connection to helping people understand wine – I see this in the “New Wine Fundamentals” introduction video. Care to comment about pulling back the reins on all the fancy jargon and terminology?
TH – I have made a concerted effort to understand and communicate with the everyday wine consumers because they are the market segment offering the greatest opportunities for all of us. The “New Wine Fundamentals” is based on an entirely new platform with the premise that learning about yourself makes it easier to learn about wine. The introductory video explores why perception and evaluation can vary so much from one person to the next, where people fit in terms of different preference clusters, and why the highly imaginative jargon and terminology needs to be tempered. The result is very empowering and this approach builds confidence, while the jargon and esoteric terminology create more confusion and intimidation.
ITM: Talk to us a little about the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi competition. How can restaurateurs and hotel operators benefit from this venture and the corresponding research you conduct?
TH – We are getting ready to announce the 2011 program, which takes place in March and combines several of the aforementioned interrelated elements: a consumer survey (2010 summary available at www.consumerwineawards.com) that provides incredible consumer insights for operators; on-going sensory research into what makes your guests unique and different so you can provide the best range of product selection and pricing; and then the evaluation itself, and the ability for restaurateurs and hotels to work with us on featuring the award-winning wines in April, May, and June with wine by-the-glass or bottle programs.
ITM: What makes the Consumer Wine Awards different from other wine competitions?
TH – The really cool thing is the wines are evaluated and selected by other consumers, creating a peer-to-peer affinity base that is very engaging. People who love white zinfandel evaluate wine with similar sweetness levels; people who love cabernets evaluate the cabernets; and we have a really great range of ‘adventure’ wines – a Virginia viognier from Jefferson Vineyards was a high award winner last year and Red Ass Rhubarb from North Dakota the year before. At the traditional end, Rocca Cabernet from Napa garnered the “Best in Class” for that varietal. We have a wide spectrum of wines and a really unique platform.
ITM – What is next on the horizon?
TH – Dr. Virginia Utermohlen, my research colleague at Cornell University and partner in TasteScience, and I are making our full Wine Consumer Survey results available for sale this month. I am launching the New Wine Fundamentals with Michigan State University and putting together an education summit for next year. Also we are just announcing the 2011 Consumer Wine Awards program and wine consumer survey, and we will be accepting submissions starting in January. All of the wineries who submit wines will get to see how consumers rate their wines and also receive a copy of the full 2011 Consumer Wine Survey.