Thursday, October 9, 2014

Matt Kramer got it wrong about bullies who put down wine

Without wine lore, and wine tasting, and wine talk, and wine labels, and, yes, wine writing and rating—the whole elaborate idea of wine—we would still get drunk, but we would be merely drunk. The language of wine appreciation is there not because wine is such a special subtle challenge to our discernment but because without the elaborate language—without the idea of wine, held up and regularly polished—it would all be about the same, or taste that way. —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Two days ago, in Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer penned a polemic against nameless skeptics of the sensory value of wine. In Kramer's defense, he attempted to use an article by Adam Gopnik (yes, I misspelled his name (twice) in a comment over on the Jackson Family Wines blog, and for that I apologize) in the The New Yorker as evidence this anti-intellectualism bullying. The problems with him basing his condemnation on Gopnik's article are twofold. First, the article is more than ten years old. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest that you do so. Yes, it reads as if it were written yesterday (or maybe tomorrow) and that is the sign of a good writer. But nevertheless it was written at a different point along the wine industry continuum and was actually an editorial on the 2004 state of wine prompted by William Echikson's book, Noble Rot. Second, and more important, Kramer completely missed the point of Gopnik's article. Kramer chose to quote Gopnik out of context. He should have started his article with the full quote that I've provided above. Gopnik actually accomplished what Kramer was attempting to do by making the case that wine talk and wine description are an integral "part of what lets the experience happen."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Great American Beer Fest Kicks off

Tonight is a big night in the alcohol beverage world: The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) kicks off this evening in Denver, CO. I don't limit my description to just the beer industry because the wine and spirits industries should be taking note of what the Brewers Association accomplishes this week. GABF represents the largest public tasting of U.S. beer, and an actually meaningful competition.