Tim Hanni, MW : Leading Wine Educator, Speaker, Writer
NVWA: Tim you have these two extra letters after your name, MW, can you tell us a little more about how you got those and what they mean?
Tim: MW stands for Master of Wine. It is a professional credential awarded by the Institute of Masters of Wine, based in London, to people who pass a rigorous examination on the business, sciences and art of wine. I passed this examination in 1990 and was one of the first two Americans to earn the title.
NVWA: You have recently turned the wine world on its head with the release of your new book “Why You Like the Wines You Like: Changing the way the world thinks about wine.” Can you tell us a little more about it? Why is it causing a stir?
Tim: My book is focused on critically rethinking a lot of concepts about wine quality, consumers and “matching” wine with food that are considered “conventional wisdoms” that do not hold up under the scrutiny of critical thinking. “Why You Like the Wines You Like” focuses on clarifying misconceptions and offering a new roadmap for the wine industry to engage consumers and build a stronger understanding of the factors that influence personal wine preferences. This scares a lot of people who think that this undermines their authority or expertise. There is an entire chapter in my book that is dedicated to “collective delusions” and introducing what is considered very disruptive revision of many of the myths, lore and legends that are perpetuated without challenge. Coming from a very traditional background and expertise myself it seems like I am attacking the status quo and many people feel threatened. The stir is really unjustified – it is just looking more deeply at wine and the essence of consumer preferences and values. At the end of the day my mission is to have more people enjoying, learning about and consuming wine!
NVWA: Can you tell us about my Vinotype ?
Tim: The word Vinotype is taken from a very literal translation of the word phenotype. We are each the sum of physiological factors that determine the intensity and range of sensations we experience combined with the psychological factors that are changeable and evolve as a result of influences like culture, learning and life experiences. Thus everyone is a unique Vinotype and your perceptive acuity combined with your personal experiences and expectations will determine your preferences and passions for different wines over time.
NVWA: How do you see the consumer wine preferences changing over the next 5-10 yrs?
Tim: The biggest change I predict is a growing confidence for demanding wines that people find most appealing without fear of reprisal or recrimination form the “wine insiders.” The sweet wine lovers will especially feel more empowered and this is the area of explosive growth for the wine industry currently. I don’t think preferences will change that dramatically but what will change is the way the industry takes advantage of the existing preferences in terms of products and consumer services.
NVWA: What advice do you have for someone just starting their wine education?
Tim: Learn about Vinotypes – starting with your own and then understanding why other people like what they like. Be confident and open to the descriptive language and values and DO NOT take for granted that just because an expert tells you something it is true! Be a cynic with an open mind and explore and try wines on your terms. If you are getting into the industry in any way learn to become the penultimate guide for others regardless of your own personal passions and preferences. Learn to celebrate the incredible diversity of wines and the diversity of people who may love wine. Immerse yourself in the history and traditions, the people and the places, but never let this distance you from the enjoyment of the company of people who may not share your point of view or wine preferences.
You can learn more about Tim Hanni’s Book and Vinotype project: www.timhanni.com