A recent discussion, from a featured blog in a prominent wine magazine, brought up the term, "wannabe wine critic." And of course the topic of discussion that led to this name was the usual suspect: the wine point system. The author of the blog suggested that the wannabe wine critics (referring to the majority of the wine bloggers) are better advised to find something more constructive to do than bash the 100-point wine system. Okay...okay, so even I'll admit that this bash has a tendency to be deja vu.
But looming around the corner is another "wannabe." This wannabe is also a product of the 100-point wine system. It plays with the pure-hearted tasting room attendants and the eager wine store owners, leaving them in a mixed state of euphoria, yet frustration. It makes the believers of terroir tremble. And who exactly is this other - - "wannabe?"
When the point system was created it was a good thing - - it was a base for the wine consumer to help guide their palate and assist in their wine purchases. And as we know, the point system can bring glory to a wine or - - death. In my opinion, the main thing the point system is guilty of is creating a monster out of the wine consumer. Now if you want to use the term, "wannabe," there's two sides to this: the point system has created a bunch of "wannabe wine aficionados!" A group that live their social lives and their wine purchases by wine points - - and obviously they do not trust their own palates. In the wine retail environment, more times than I care to count, I've witnessed a customer walk in the door with his sole mission to be about the highly-pointed wine. Often buying at least a case and when asked if he wanted to taste the wine he was buying, usually shrugged it off. These wine buyers rarely tasted. And of course, we all knew those cases would be his new trophy to share with other "trophy hunters."
At a B&B, overheard a conversation from other guests who "only visit wineries with 90 points and above wines." They were oblivious that the winemaker has to enter the wines to be judged and pointed. What you say? The wine point fairy doesn’t come to them? Too bad for these wannabe wine aficionados to be missing out on some real jewels - - excellent, yet affordable wines and possible up-and-coming wines by ignoring those who are not subscribing to a point system. These actions and comments from wannabe wine aficionados remind me of cartoons of caveman beating their chests because they built a bigger fire or a locker room of men bragging about who has the longest...ummm...wine stem on their glass.
Sure, don't get me wrong - - there is nothing better than selling a case or two of wine to a customer and certainly, his dollar doesn't look any different from those who do not subscribe to points. To explain this feeling is like selling your first car, a car full of memories and a set of wheels you babied for years. But you sell it to the highest bidder who will use it to race at the local demolition derby. And there is also a bit of disappointment when you know the "wannabe wine aficionado" would not be able to tell me the difference in taste from the 89 Syrah and the 90 Cabernet, let alone will never understand how and why the wine judge arrived at his/her decision. And perhaps, just maybe lurking in the wannabe wine aficionado's subconscious is the inadequacies of trusting their own palate. Will they be able to admit to other wannabe wine aficionados they enjoyed a wine that scored a whopping 88? Will they be the laugh of the McMansion neighborhood gourmet supper club if they bring a bottle of wine that was given anything less than a 90?
Okay, so maybe I am guilty of being silly and the romantic wine aficionado dinosaur who is about the craft, the science, the terroir and even the personality and story of the winemaker, instead of being one of the cool kids by enjoying the wine for the points. What is this - - doesn't anybody trust their own taste buds anymore? At my home, during an evening of wine tasting with friends, we "wannabe wine critics" talk about the craftsmanship and personality of the wine and it isn't the scores and the points that brings the wine to the dinner table - - and after all, isn't that really the point?