Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The peril of becoming "An Industry of Cool"

We're all guilty of it, judging people by the wine they (think) they like. Some of us actually (but not sincerely) tell people to "drink what they like" There are certain things you are supposed to say you like at every juncture of your wine evolution. Eventually, you start saying things like "Americans are so dumb, they don't even know the  wines of (blah, blah, blah obscure region). This reminds me very much of the rise of College/ alternative Radio in the 80's/ 90's. There were certain bands you were supposed to say you liked. Instead of risking turning this into a musical discussion, I'll just say this-It's The Replacements. That's the answer. It took 25 years to prove what I always thought, that most of the stuff was trendy, but shit. The Replacements are still great.

See how this can go? Everyone has an opinion. Most of that stuff was actually just noise. all of the bumper stickers, skateboard stickers, hand painted names of bands on denim and leather jackets, bad tattoos. Just noise, that we let define us by making us think that it validated our coolness, because we liked the seemingly unlikable, and related to the seemingly unrelateable (not a word), We judged people by their specific tastes. See the correlation? The scary thing is-we're not 14 anymore.  

We love largely undrinkable wine far too much right now. And when I say we, I mean the wine dorks, and somms. Yellow wine, Orange wine, Natural Wine, wine from untraveled roads and obscure grapes. While these are all noble pursuits and fascinating, rarely are they enjoyable on anything more than an academic level. I never understood Vin Jeaune. It's the hottest thing in the biz right now. These oxidized yellow wines of Jura, But I never liked them or enjoyed them. Now I can say I think I get them, but not because I drank so many, but because I visited one of the great producers and tried their 40yr old version. That was the yellow wine that made sense. The rest was just like trying to The Misfits or something. Was I supposed to love this unlike-able stuff? I was sold on the idea that this stuff was the next hottest thing, but restaurants aren't putting 1973 Vin Jeaune on their wine list, they're putting 2003 on their list. At this point, we're trying to one up each other in obscurity. To paraphrase the Lester Bangs character in Almost Famous: "And then it just becomes and industry of... cool".

He have to be careful here. We absolutely don't want homogeneous palates or wine lists.We want discovery, nerdom, obscurity and curiosity. These things help us understand all things wine that much more. And a sincere fascination, appreciation and application are all equally vital. However, there is a group of us that won't admit it out loud, but our inner 14 year old self knows it- "There are some things we say we like, to make ourselves sound cool".

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