Frederic Koeppel at Bigger Than Your Head takes a half-dozen bottles of carefully selected, impressive wine to a barbecue in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and feels a little overdressed.
I was introduced, inevitably, as a wine expert who had brought special wines to the party, but when I offered my wares, the questions repeatedly put to me were these: “Do you have anything sweet?” and “Do you have anything that’s not too heavy?”
Stop, readers, before you say, “Oh, those kinds of people.” Those kinds of people comprise most of the wine consumers in America, and I promise you that they’re completely unconcerned about notions of place and terroir, of natural wines versus manipulated wines, of auctions and ratings and in what forests deep in France’s heartland the mighty oaks grew that provided the wood for the barrels that aged whatever wine you and I might be having with dinner tonight. No, those kinds of people desire a wine that’s not substantial, not shaped by oak or laden with tannin, not complicated or multi-dimensional, but rather a wine that’s pleasant, easy to drink, flavorful and, yes, it’s true in many cases, a little sweet.
It’s a well thought-out reminder of what “wine culture” means to most people, and the way that connoisseurship (in the best sense of the word) complicates what is to most people a simple pleasure. Read the whole thing.