Let’s face it: Wine – in its highest fidelity, finest form – is not for everybody.
Everyone has different preferences. Although some investigators seem to conclude that the basis of this is some vastly disparate difference in sensory physiology, I think it is more a mater of the smells and flavors you grew up with and liked and disliked (a function of the brain not the sensory detectors) shaping your preferences as an adult.
To an extent.
As we mature, our perspectives, values, preferences and likes and dislikes change. The degree to which this happens is much more a matter of the changes in our brains than it is due to interpersonal differences in tasting physiology. And our brains contain and are the essence of who and what we are.
So, back to my opening statement:
If wine is not for everybody, then trying to make it appeal to everybody will just degrade the character and integrity (and the very essence) of it. I’ve said this before.
The spectrum of wine style and quality today is quite broad. It follows, then, that a wine or wines one prefers (or absolutely loves) may be closer to the bottom to the quality scale than the top of it.
Now, I’m sure to tread on the sensibilities of some by asserting that the wine they prefer is inferior by any and all informed standards and measures. But that is, ultimately, the truth. It has nothing to do with enjoyability or popularity but with concrete standards of complexity, composition, texture and longevity.
Bach or Bauhaus are not for everyone. Within a broader scope of music, one may be deemed superior to the other and in the context of their respective genres, each may be the benchmark.
My assertion strikes at the core of the “drink what you like” mindset. The essence of that philosophy is: “if it tastes good to you, then it’s good [of good quality]“. What is not stated explicitly in this wording is: “if you prefer a product over its competitors, then enjoy it regardless of any and all opinions and standards“.
It’s such an ego-driven response to react viscerally at the notion that we, our possessions, choices, beliefs or preferences are wrong, incorrect or lean towards the lesser end of the quality scale. After all, we were told in kindergarten that we are all equally valid and important…
So it is preferable to say: “there are different styles of wines – each with its own place and purpose – and groups of fans.” (That is more agreeable, less offensive, so non-confrontational….).
There is much chatter in online wine writing about educating newbie wine consumers, about preferences, sensitivities and wine choices, wine styles and consumer wine awards. All of it seems to have a “Me! Me! Me! Look at ME!” tone to it.
I say this because none of it challenges the consumer. It caters to them (much like those vast quantities of simple sweet wine cater to a market subset rather than ignoring it). It validates the consumer and their current preference.
None of it says: “This is how things are: This is what constitutes quality in a wine: ___. This is why wine A is considered a quality wine: ___. This is why it sells for $2,000 a bottle: ___. This is where the wines you prefer lie on the scale of quality: ___. Enjoy the wines you prefer and be comfortable with your choice.”
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