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New Zealand’s Push for a White Wine Emoji Gains Momentum

New Zealand’s Push for a White Wine Emoji Gains Momentum

white wine emoji

May is a celebration of white wines, with holidays dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. It’s also Finger Lakes Month, spotlighting the renowned Riesling grape. Amid these festivities, a noteworthy campaign is seeing renewed recognition – the quest for a white wine emoji.

The campaign for a white wine emoji saw its first public rejection in 2019, spearheaded by California’s Kendall-Jackson. Since then, New Zealand Winegrowers has taken the baton in hopes of delivering the emoji the wine community so passionately wants. 

New Zealand, a wine region with a unique position in the global wine industry, presents a compelling case for a white wine emoji. It’s globally recognized as the Sauvignon Blanc capital, with the grape accounting for two-thirds of its wine production. Chardonnay thrives in every New Zealand wine-growing region, while Riesling and Pinot Gris also commonly grow across the country.

With all that experience and emphasis, it makes sense that New Zealand Winegrowers would push this campaign forward. Unfortunately, that may not give the organization an advantage. 

“It likely doesn’t impact the proposal at all, as the [Unicode] Consortium produces emojis for a global audience,” says Juliana Foster, PR Manager for New Zealand Winegrowers. Instead, the organization uses this month and its major wine holidays to bring more attention to their cause. 

“May is when New Zealand’s top three exported white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay) are celebrated with International Wine Days. It’s the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on New Zealand white wine via this ‘emojency.’”

The Campaign for a White Wine Emoji

For an emoji to make it onto our phones and keyboards, organizations must submit a proposal to the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee. The committee is responsible for developing resources for emojis, finding ways to better support their use, and, most importantly, reviewing and developing proposals for new emojis. Those proposals go before the Unicode’s Technical Committee. The application process is open through July. 

“There is a range of criteria you must meet when applying for an emoji, and it’s not just about a simple color change; you must change the shape of the glassware and meet other criteria as well,” says Foster. 

According to the consortium, the approval of new emojis is largely influenced by the societal value they represent. This underscores the importance of a proposed emoji in reflecting and shaping shared cultural experiences.

“Anyone who has an idea of something that they feel needs to be represented in emoji form can write a term paper on recognizing its valuable contribution and how it has been an accepted concept throughout history,” says Jennifer Daniel, chair of the Emoji Subcommittee at Unicode, in an explainer video on Unicode’s YouTube channel. 

How Emoji’s Make It to the Keyboard

According to the consortium’s website, new emoji proposals are based on several criteria, including:

  • Multiple meanings
  • Sequence usage with other emojis
  • Representation of something new or distinctive
  • Potential for widespread and frequent use
  • Filling a gap in the current emoji set
  • Compatibility across various platforms like Snapchat, X, and QQ, etc.

After submission, proposals undergo a year-long approval process, which includes approvals from the emoji subcommittee and the full technical committee. 

“We use a number of different signals to understand [the emoji’s] value. One of them is the frequency of use; another is how it applies in a communications context and how it plays in terms of the entire emoji inventory,” says Daniel. 

Emoji vendors — such as Facebook, Apple, and Google — also get to weigh in on the design of the emojis. After all three phrases, production of the emojis can begin before they finally arrive on devices. Only 50-70 emojis make it through the process, with most of them receiving rejections from the emoji subcommittee. 

How This Time Will Be Different

Unfortunately, when the consortium denies a request, it does not specify why the request did not meet the inclusion standards. While New Zealand Winegrowers submitted a proposal in 2022, it did not receive any feedback on that proposal. The consortium receives a lot of proposals every year and is unable to provide feedback on its responses. 

Additionally, there is no appeal process for emojis, only the ability to resubmit a proposal every two years. The only thing New Zealand Winegrowers can do is review their previous proposal and other successful proposals (emoji submissions, along with their responses, are available on the consortium’s website). 

It’s unclear why the consortium has not approved a white wine emoji in the past few attempts. However, one significant challenge is demonstrating the difference between the white and red emojis. Outside of the wine industry, how would the white wine emoji be used differently than the red wine emoji? The bottle with a popping cork emoji (🍾) can apply to discussions about Champagne, but it can also be any moment of celebration. The gap a white wine emoji could fill is unclear. 

How To Support the White Wine Emoji Campaign

Although securing approval for a white wine emoji is challenging, the campaign provides an excellent platform for New Zealand Winegrowers to highlight their wines and raise awareness. The organization used the proposal as a hook within the white wine holidays to encourage more exploration of the wines of New Zealand. 

“The longer they continue to decline, the more we will draw attention to this ‘emojency’ and shine a spotlight on New Zealand white wine!” says Foster. 

Anyone who wants to express support for their movement submit to a message board on the New Zealand Winegrowers website. (Note: the Unicode website explicitly states that petitions are not considered).

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