Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How Much Longer Are We Going To Praise Mediocrity?

How Much Longer Are We Going To Praise Mediocrity?

Randy Kemner, (owner of The Wine Country, my mentor and passionate wine drinker) sent me a copy via email of The Wine Spectator’s ratings of Champagne Houses Piper and Charles Heidsieck and while I read the notes and rather hefty scores attached I said aloud, “Compared to what?” and it inspired me to fire off this response to Randy;

Yawn….man, no wonder so many people don’t, “get” Champagne….nothing wrong with those wines but nothing there to ignite the fire if you will.

Randy responded;

All I can think of when I read magazines and newspapers designed for a national audience is that they have to spotlight wines that are made in big enough quantities to have a national reach. I’ll take Camille Saves and Pierre Peters any day.

To which I replied;


I often think the same thing but one thing about that keeps nagging away at me and makes me think, yet again that the wine world needs to evolve a bit....the Internet, with the Internet everything is available, you can get Chicago Pizza, New York Bagels, Maine Lobsters and Kansas City BBQ delivered to your home anywhere in the United States....are people rating Domino's, Noah's Bagels, Red Lobster and Lucille's as the standard or best in their field?! If you think about it, writing up truly amazing wines will:

1) Inspire more people to drink wine....because they taste BETTER

2) Create urgency in procuring those rare and tasty gems, hence generating more business for the retailers that stock them and for the wineries.

3) Get those people in the states that don't allow wine shipments involved in fighting for their rights and changing those ridiculous laws.

I'm just sayin'.


I thought of a fourth reason after I had already hit send, (dude…hate that and feel like it would be lame to write a second, “Oh yeah one more thing” email…plus the second email would likely be read first as new emails are above old, so it just looks stupid) it would force wineries that have been resting on reputation rather than honestly making wines deserving such praise, to get off their lazy over priced asses and really compete…..or even better lower their prices to reflect what the wine is really worth. A crazy idea I know but hows about we trim some fat in the marketing and advertising department Mr./Mrs. Giagantor Winery, I mean how many free wine openers, embossed Champagne buckets and polo shirts does any retailer or restaurant need?! Every time I am handed some, “swag” I have to think, “Now why don’t you spend some of this money and energy in the vineyard, concentrate on making something interesting…” but why should they when they get national praise for cranking out mass amounts of mediocre “juice”.

Now another thing that Randy and I share is the cringe when people say things like, “killer juice” or, “that is some great juice” when talking about wine, just sounds so benign, lifeless…loveless but the more I think about it, when referring to the millions of gallons of “lifeless and loveless” stuff that is being cranked out and sold as premium wine….it might as well be called juice….all kind of tastes the same with maybe just a touch of, “seasoning” differences, can you taste the difference in the apple juices you get from the supermarket? Can you tell just where those apples come from…I for one cannot but when I taste apple juice from say, a little roadside stand on the east coast…hell yes I taste the difference and I get all tingly and geeked out…”this is the real deal, if all apple juice tasted like this rather than sweet and one dimensional I would drink way more of it”….know what I’m sayin?

I just have to wonder how long this industry is going to support “medium” as good enough, how long we will bank on people not knowing any better and how many wine drinkers are we never going to have because the “must have” wines are boring, lifeless or in some cases, just don’t taste very good? I am banking on the next generation, the young wine drinker that is all over the Internet, into weird little wines, the obscure and interesting….these folks might just be the lifeline the wine business is going to need when all the crusty old school “wine guys” retire taking their once valid but now, (due to the many changes in the industry, accessibility to more options and passionate young winemakers working the vineyards rather than making soup in the cellar) tired ideas of what is “the best”, with them. Everything else has changed, the foods we eat, the way we dress, how we talk, where we get our information….is the wine world going to be the last to get on board, move forward…evolve?

I for one would hate to see the wine business in this country go by way of the auto industry, if you really give a crap about growing the business….stop with the packaging and make something that people really want and moreover….something they will come back for.

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