The Gray Lady and wine

~It’s known as the Gray Lady for its, what, regality? I’m talking about the New York Times.
~For those of you who may not read or have access to the New York Times, in his latest weekly column, the newspaper’s resident wine writer tackled wine geekdom.
~Anyone who has read my posts on this blog likely knows what I think of the word “geek” and the concept behind “wine geek,” so you will forgive me if my bias shows, but why in the world do we need to spend so much time talking about what other people think wine should be?
~The column focused a lot on geekdom online.
~I admit to having done my time on the online wine geek-oriented Web sites, and I suppose my attitude about the whole thing is because I have spent time on those sites, where nitpicking over the nuances of someone’s opinion is about as stimulating to me as another round of Andrew Lloyd Weber classical music rip-off productions, with or without the techno effects.
~By mentioning big name wines that people might recognize, as wells as the big name guru that just about everyone would recognize, the columnist made a valiant attempt at making the subject seem important, but really.
~I agree with his early premise, “Never has such a diversity of great wines been so widely available.”  But from there, it is down hill.
~It doesn’t seem newsworthy that there are people whom the columnist calls “subversives” and who he claims “…have left the mainstream to discover new worlds of wonderful, offbeat wines.”
~In my view, discovery is the natural state of things. I see as subversives those who prey on the trepid and insecure who need to follow someone else’s palate.
~This particular column also illustrates the futility of trying to define wine “geekdom.”
~The columnist refers to certain wines as being called “spoofulated” which he says is “…a geekdom term for engineered wines…” He says that to the geeks the opposite of spoofulated is “real wine,” wine that cannot be produced on a mass scale.
~People who like so-called spoofulated wines are also wine geeks. I am certain some of them even think they are the correct wine geeks. But as with all specialized focus, geek factions have sprouted from the original.
~You’ve seen the faction thing before, in politics, in your local neighborhood block association, in your family, ad infinitum, and you know what factions do: they obscure the subject by arguing over method and message.
~To me, wine geekdom obscures rather than enlightens. Unfortunately, in my ever so humble opinion, a newspaper column that discusses the factions only serves to further obscure the subject.
~I understand, however, that newspapers need to sell, and selling information sounds like a good idea until you try to get someone to buy it. With that in mind, I understood why the column was written, and after reading the posts of many wine geeks on the few Web sites that host such ramblings, I came to understand fully why the column was written.
~And so, the beast has been stirred, the conversations will go on for a few days, and the inanity of it all will go completely over the heads of the wine geeks.
~Meanwhile, the rest of us can search for and discover, on our very own, and then we can consume that truly wonderful bottle of wine while the others argue online over their opinion of it, should their guru have discovered it for them.

I promise to get back to wine in my next entry, which won’t be for about five or six days. I am off to a three-day wine conference in Canada, where I am engaged to speak about wine and culture.

Not once during my talk will the words geek and culture cross paths…


Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
June, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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