Wednesday, May 25, 2005

ABC, ABM, NRW, and You

Recently, while attending some industry related meetings in another state, I visited friends of mine. While there they asked me to go to a weekly tasting event at the local wine bar, I somewhat dreaded the thought but agreed, these were, after all, friends. The establishment in question was a very nice wine bar, serving about 40 different wines by the glass, a variety of different flights, and a retail section. Every Thursday a local wine ‘educator’, I’m using her term, would conducted a structured tasting and, well, educate. There were about 16 people participating, most fairly new to regular wine consumption.

It was quickly evident that this woman was part of the ABC crowd (Anything But Chardonnay, or Cabernet), and rather stridently so, she also declared some heavy (a la Sideways) ABM tendencies (Anything But Merlot, not Anti Ballistic Missile). Strangely, White Zin was ‘not really wine’ (NRW), BUT you could drink it when you first started, you know, before you knew better. Of course, I was informed that “wine goes best with food”. And then the denouement, the definitive proscription against wine hooliganism, “You should never have to RESORT to buying Two Buck Chuck, there is so much more out there to choose from”. I got up and wandered over to the retail section of the store before giving into the urge of launching Wing Attack Plan R against this person.

This passes for Wine education?? I would like to think this isn’t typical, but you know what, pathetically, it is. This person had dispensed with traditional wine pretension and replaced that with exclusion and exoticentrism (you know, whatever is exotic, far away, is best better goodestest). In an effort to broaden my wine horizons I had to EXCLUDE huge segments of the wine world, making wine not a beverage but a symbol, a series of exclusive rules to follow.

So let me summate:
-You can like Sauvignon Blanc but you have to like it from a winery in South Africa that exported 350 cases and retails for $14.95.
-You will fall into the abyss of banality if you drink chardonnay or cabernet .
-Consistent consumption of Two Buck Chuck will likely cause an permanent and excruciating decrease in your household income.
-If you or your relatives drink White Zinfandel, you will be burned upon a pyre of grape vines (most likely the ones they have been pulling up in many regions of France).

-German Reisling = GOOD; White Zinfandel = BAD
-French Table Wine = GOOD; Charles Shaw = BAD
-If you drink wine as a beverage, without the dignified accompaniment of food, you are simply an irredeemable PHILISTINE.

So let’s be careful out there people, there are RULES and you need to follow them!


Blogger Z said...

People like her drive me crazy. I teach wine "courses" (for lack of a better word) myself, and every so often I'll come across a customer who thinks like her.

I remember a Shiraz tasting where I extolled the virtues of a particularly cheap and tasty Chilean Shiraz versus the jammy and flabby $20 Australian Shiraz. Seeing the looks on their faces, I thought I must have drooled wine all over my shirt or done something equally tasteless...

Wine is meant to be fun. So-called 'wine rules' are meant to be broken (for the most part). Sadly, some people in the "industry" don't seem to have this figured out yet.

Anyways, thanks for giving me the chance to rant. Great post too - as usual.

May 25, 2005 3:16 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

Thanks for the comments. Keep fighting the good fight!

May 25, 2005 3:34 PM  
Blogger Eh... Not so much said...

Yeah, but... white zinfandel mostly is really gross and way too sweet! I used to like "Cheap Red Wine," till we had a blind tasting, and I found that compared to the other wines it was thin and gross! But I know there's plenty of delicious inexpensive wine. Estancia Pinot Noir for example. Nummy!

May 25, 2005 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had my own brush with wine "education" at a tasting room in Virgnia - I won't be more specific to protect the guilty. At this winery, I was informed that dry wine has ZERO residual sugar (we were tasting some not-so-dry chards and merlot). I was also told that there are only four basic tastes (hello, umami?). The pourer was also shocked when I asked about the origin of the grapes since the wine we were tasting reported no appellation on the label. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I would expect those in the business - even in Virginia to do better.

May 26, 2005 6:01 AM  

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