Wineries, winemakers, and wine professionals turn to TikTok
By Alexis Karis
Recently, a friend and social media manager shared a TikTok video with me, as she does regularly when she sees content she thinks I will enjoy. This one really caught my attention – the video from #winetok, which has amassed over 158.3k views at the time of this writing, reviewed three top celebrity wines. I began scrolling through the profile, named @somm_vivant, and browsed the various videos. The account, I learned, is the brainchild of a sommelier and wine expert named Amanda McCrossin and has a range of videos that are either funny, educational, informative, or helpful, and always engaging and sincere. Among the videos on “How to Decant a Bottle of Wine” and “The Story of the Judgment of Paris” are videos recommending “Target Wines for Thanksgiving” and “My Favorite Sauvignon Blanc”.
I thought to myself, why wasn’t I on #winetok more?
Perhaps it is because of the nature of alcohol and TikTok. In February of last year, following an extensive VinePair report on TikTok and more specifically the future of alcohol advertising on the platform, we shared a Double Forte blog post titled TikTok, Alcohol, Advertising And You. In the piece, we reviewed some of the sticking points around promoting alcohol on the platform. Namely, “If the core demographic skews toward kids, alcohol brands don’t want to be there – at least until it’s safe to do so.” At the time of publishing the blog post, it was still unclear what the safest way to move forward was. We promised we would continue monitoring the situation.
In the year since, we have kept TikTok top of mind for all our clients and have even coordinated TikTok campaigns for our food and non-alcoholic beverage clients. Still, it has been nearly impossible to conduct TikTok campaigns involving wine and alcohol brands.
But the space is changing rapidly – as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. A few days after browsing @somm_vivant’s account, Amanda McCrossin again came across my screen. On March 22, San Francisco Chronicle’s newest wine writer, Jess Lander, published an article about TikTok and the wine industry, titled “Why TikTok — not Instagram — is a rising platform for winemakers desperate to lure Millennials.” The piece is packed to the brim with insights, examples, and observations on how the tide of TikTok and wine is turning. Lander writes “TikTok bans the sale or solicitation of alcohol on its platform. Influencers have had to get creative in finding legal ways around that rule.” Wine industry professionals (trade and winemakers) are beginning to turn to the platform with content including wine reviews or recommendations, educational videos, winery tasting experiences and behind-the-scenes looks at winemaking. As Lander points out with a few examples, Tiktok has already proven itself to be an effective vehicle for wine sales. However, whether or not these loopholes are entirely legal is still in hot debate.
According to a 2022 blog post from Wallaroo media, they “…estimate that TikTok has about 80 million monthly active users in the United States… 60% are between the ages of 16-24. 26% are between the ages 25-44. 80% are between the ages 16-34.” Given that 65% of the users must be over 21 in order to legally promote or advertise wine on social media platform, it appears that brands are still taking a risk by using TikTok.
Articles such as the San Francisco Chronicle and VinePair pieces noted above, which discuss the issues surrounding wine and Tiktok, are few and far between. That is precisely why Lander’s piece is so important for shedding a light on the growing trend happening on #winetok. The opportunity for Wine and alcohol brands to advertise or promote their products on TikTok is still a ways off, but brands should take note of the ways in which their peers are pushing boundaries and taking risks in this space.
As we wrote last year on the same very subject, rest assured that the team at Double Forte will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide counsel on the path forward.