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Those Kinds of People

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.

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3 Comments

  • Pursuit

    Hmm, isn’t this like saying, “remember, for most people, Italian culture means Olive Garden”. What’s the point? Personally, I really don’t care, and if anything, it’s a reminder to bring 2 buck chuck to these things and hide both the fact that you know better, and the bottle of good stuff that proves it!

  • Mart S.

    It’s racism in the wine realm. Is it a sort of a negative or a positive aspect? Cheers!

  • Tom Johnson

    I’m old enough to remember when “Italian” meant Chef Boy-ar-dee, so Olive Garden is a considerable step up. I’m also an advocate of shameless advocate of keeping the good (or, at least, expensive) wine away from people who won’t appreciate it. My wife hosted a baby shower a while back for a couple of women she works with. Lots of people came over, including a few who are really into wine. Most everyone enjoyed the Pinot Grigio and Bogle Cab, but a few were invited to partake of a bottle of Leoville-Barton I’d cracked open and hidden in the kitchen. Everyone was happy.

    And, Pursuit, I think your last sentence sums it up about perfectly.

    As to whether its negative or positive, I think the assumption that everyone should care about wine the same way is negative. People get to choose their own priorities.