Wine o'clock is a real thing. In 2015, the Oxford online dictionary officially added the word and defined it as "the appropriate time of day to start drinking wine." It didn't mention an exact time because wine o'clock is a fluid moment, changing depending on a wine drinker's circumstances, mood and probably proximity to a bottle they really want to open.
For wine professionals like me, wine o'clock can be any time of day, morning, noon or night. For the average wine drinker, though, it's that time of day when responsibilities are taken care of enough for the corkscrew to come out. Enolytics, a firm that leverages big data for wine industry sales and marketing insights, has mined the data and determined peak wine o'clock: just about 6:30 p.m.
To come up with that time, they sourced data from everyday wine drinkers who use the Hello Vino app to learn about wine and keep a record of what they're drinking. Using 2.06 million pieces of data generated by consumers using the app, Enolytics determined that wine o'clock begins at 4:45 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. (local time), peaking between 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
If your personal wine o'clock falls before or after that, then you're keeping the spirit — and fluidity — of wine o'clock going. For analysis purposes, Enolytics needed to get more specific with the definition of wine o'clock and defined it as "the window of time during which wine consumers are most frequently engaging with, and most interested in, wine."
If wine o'clock is supposed to be fluid, what's the point in determining when the most people are engaging in it? For an everyday wine drinker, it's a fun fact. It's not much more than a piece of trivia to use to either impress wine drinking friends or annoy them when someone boldly declares wine o'clock at 1:30 p.m. on a lazy Saturday and you pipe up with, "It's not really until at least 4:45 p.m.," inviting wine corks to be hurled in your general direction.
For those in the business of selling wine, though, it becomes something else. It becomes a tool.
"It means something different to each person along the wine industry continuum," said Enolytics co-founder Cathy Huyghe. "For consumers, wine o’clock means the pleasure of opening a bottle, usually at the end of the day. For marketers, wine o’clock means the time that they kick their communication strategy into action. For retailers, wine o’clock means when to schedule tastings and events. For distributors, it means when to call on accounts. And so on. It’s so multi-faceted, and endlessly interesting!"
Enolytics certainly isn't inviting wine corks to be thrown in its direction by telling anyone what's "appropriate" when it comes to the time to drink wine.
"That’s the data, and it can be helpful to companies on the business end of wine," said Huyghe. "But for the rest of us, who just want to drink the stuff, I hope we’ll continue to think (and post…), 'Finally, it’s time for wine!' "