Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wine Should Be Dynamic

Yesterday, I mentioned that consumers want dynamic wines. On face value, that is wrong. Many consumers want the cheapest wine they can get. They want to drink the same boring wine night in and night out. After all, jug wine and cheap boxed wine (there is some good boxed wine...) make up the majority of Americans' wine purchases. When I refer to dynamic wine, I'm talking about wines that cost more than seven dollars a bottle. I am talking about people that talk about wine.

Dynamic wine doesn't have to mean the absolute best damn wine in the world. It just means a wine that evokes emotions. It means wines that change the way we think about wine. One of my favorite wines is a six-dollar Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Casa Solar. When I was in college, my wife-to-be and I drank a case of it when we were wet behind the ears. It was the red wine we served at our wedding. Will it knock your socks off? No. But it means something to me. It evokes thought and emotion. It makes me think about life. It makes me think about my continued journey through the wine world. Pretty impressive for a low-80 point wine. Will it be dynamic for you? Probably not. Sadly, I haven't had a bottle for a few years, but just thinking about it makes me smile.

Dynamic also means wines speak differently to different people. I've had many wines that someone has rated a "perfect" 100-points. Some I've like, some I've really disliked. One man's treasure is an other's trash. I can say I've never had a perfect wine. I don't think such a thing exists. It almost makes me sad to think that people think wine can be perfect. Wine can be pretty damn near perfect, but just like infinity it can never be reached.

Dynamic also means a wine that changes. It can change in the glass. It can change in the bottle. It can change your perception of wine. It can change your mind. Good wines from places off the beaten path excite me. Wines and people that try to change the wine world are dynamic. One of the problems with the wine world is that so many people try to make wine static. By assigning scores to wine, they etch in stone a quantitative, and subjective value of a wine. Sure, they say there are footnotes in their publications that say a score is only what one person thought about a wine on a given day, but we all know that is not how a score is used in the real world. Scores are written on the foreheads of wines with permanent ink.

I am put off by scores because they pretend to be permanent. Rarely do you see a critic change his or her score by more than a point or two. Critics pretend to be infallible. If they admit they were wrong, why would consumers listen to what they have to say? The people who hand out triple-digit scores want to solidify their influence. They want their voices to be permanent. Nothing about wine is permanent. Not the color, not the aroma and not the flavors. Not the wineries and not even the pundits. But I hope that the discussion and the global conversation that is fervently heating up will be permanent. When you and I are long gone, I hope people are still talking about wine with as much passion as I like to think I am.

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