How peculiar is wine?


As a quote, it has all the makings of an exam question: ‘The wine industry is “peculiar, fragmented, confusing and impenetrable”. Discuss.’ These four provocative adjectives were brandished by ad man Sir John Hegarty (pictured) in a speech at the UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s annual conference last month. According to reports in the trade press, he has never come across an industry as ‘truly appalling’ as wine, with its lack of ‘brand leaders’ and its ‘daft’ means of communicating with consumers.

Sir John is no stranger to the business of marketing booze. The advertising firm he founded, BBH...