The world of wine encompasses endless variety. Consumers want to understand what makes one bottle of wine different from another; vintners need to know how to communicate what makes their product distinctive. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork in Italy and France as well as interviews with critics and analysis of market data, Giacomo Negro, Michael T. Hannan, and Susan Olzak provide an unprecedented sociological account of the dynamics of wine markets. They demonstrate how the concepts of genre and collective identity illuminate producers’ choices, whether they are selling traditional or nonconventional wines.
Winemakers face a fundamental choice: produce an existing style and develop an identity as a proponent of tradition or embrace foreign, new, or emerging categories and be seen as an innovator. To explain this dilemma, Negro, Hannan, and Olzak develop the notion of wine genres, or shared understandings among producers and the public. Genres emerge through the social structure of production, including factors such as group solidarity, social cohesion, and collective action, and become key reference points for critics and consumers. Wine Markets features case studies of the creation of a modern wine genre and a countermovement against modernism in Piedmont, the failure of producers of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany to define a clear collective identity, and the emergence of the biodynamic wine movement in Alsace. This book not only offers keen sociological insight into the wine world but also sheds new light on the logic of markets and organizations more broadly.