I understand they’re growing up in a much more sophisticated wine culture than Baby Boomers, and are thus automatically wiser and more discerning than the generation before them — that is, the generation that built the wine culture Millennials are currently exploring. I accept a certain lack of perspective among young people. I was, after all, young once myself, and recall adamantly arguing that Grand Funk Railroad’s “Closer to Home” was art. (To check my memory, I went to the Grand Funk website. Who would imagine that it would need a section called “Latest News”?) Lack of historic perspective is not a moral or intellectual failure; it’s just a defining characteristic of youth.
The Contra Costa Times does an article about Millennial wine judges. It’s one of those “nice” articles that doesn’t say anything bad but nonetheless makes the article’s subjects look like complete idiots. Here’s a selection of quotes from the article, along with old fart commentary.
Speaking of the recently held NextGen wine competition:
“You can get people who are stuffy and serious at these things, and then you have to watch what you say or behave a certain way. But these people were in jeans and flip-flops.”
Wait! Young people in jeans and flip-flops? Seriously? That’s a huge cultural innovation compared to the austere formality of the Baby Boomers who, you no doubt remember, always dressed in coat and tie for dinner.
“Millennials are risk takers who understand that without trying something new by experimenting and listening to advice, we will always be drinking the same overpriced, 94-point cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley.”
This is more semantic than anything else, but is “listening to advice” really a characteristic of risk-takers?
On judging wine:
“I judged on all-around deliciousness, what the average consumer is looking for.”
This is what we in the wordbiz call “condescension,” which is the foundation of snobbery, which is what Millennials claim not to be. This reminds me, somehow, of the argument I had with my father about wearing ragged jeans — and, come to think of it, flip-flops. He wanted me to wear new jeans, but I explained to him that I needed to wear old jeans because that’s what you had to wear to be a non-conformist.
On the result of the NextGen wine competition, which crowned the 21st Century equivalent of Annie Green Springs Peach Creek Wine as the best wine for Millennials.
“I am proud to have been a part of choosing a wine that is well-made, whether sweet or dry, and clean. It may not be the most exciting wine in the world, but it’s thirst quenching. At the end of the day, wine is just a beverage.”
Which kind of calls into question the whole idea of judging wine competitions, doesn’t it?