“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
*Bertrand Russell – See: Dunning-Krugar effect
Reading about wine on the internet is uninspiring. I am convinced that in the end, there is very little value in what is on the web regarding wine that hasn’t already been available someplace else for a very long time – only better written. Having access to background information through wine apps is great, assuming that information is accurate (a pretty big leap of faith). But what bothers me most about internet wine writing is the certainty with which people write about this subject. Wine is a topic that is pretty idiosyncratic and particular. And when one finally gets around to its appreciation – it is purely subjective.
There is a misplaced and unwarranted sense of certainty about the mythology that sustains both the social media in general and the impact that it ultimately has on the enjoyment and appreciation of wine and the wine business specifically. I just don’t buy it. Regardless of the topic, if you approach your subject with some humility, experience teaches you how hard it is to make a definitive statement about anything. The truth in wine always resides in shades of gray (or maybe red and white).
Wine writers keep trying to turn wine into something that it is not. Here is a typical example – Karen MacNeil blogging on the subject of Why Wine Matters: “Wine matters because of this connection. Wine (and food) cradle us in our own humanity. Drinking wine–small as that action may seem–is an affirmation. It reminds us of other things that matter: love, friendship, generosity.” I can’t argue with the feel good sentiment. It makes me all warm and cuddly. I also feel that way when I scratch my dog. But what do MacNeil’s words mean exactly?
I do not wish to diminish wine in any way. I too have had plenty of “spiritual” experiences enjoying some very special (and even not so special) wines. But I have never experienced a wine that has cradled me in my own humanity, nor have I ever seen anyone else cradled in theirs. Expecting to have that experience or thinking that you have missed it – is asking too much of wine.
Maybe someone can come up with a shelf talker that can let you know what kind of emotion to expect when drinking a particular bottle – Warm and Fuzzy; Indifference and Triviality; Nausea; Steamy Sexuality; Hold Me Close; Don’t Touch Me with That.
At the end of the day, what we value in what we read is still dependent on experience and trust. But I don’t expect things to change anytime soon on the web – we are still trending toward stupid.