Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Anti-Wine Snob

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has dubbed Master of Wine and former wine drinker Jim Hanni the "wine antisnob" in this marginally interesting hagiography. All in all, it's a pretty shoddy piece of journalism. For example, the subject of the article is the sole source for POV of Hanni's importance to the wine industry (e.g., "Mr. Hanni was immediately 'a god in the wine world,' he says.") While Mr. Hanni is purportedly the anti-snob, the article never clearly defines what it means by "snobbery," but that shouldn't be terribly surprising from a piece that refers to Loire Bordeaux (comparing it to Tuscan Brunellos-so it's wrong on so many levels). I almost hate to point out that uneducated error for fear of being called a wine snob myself!

The major thrust is that one shouldn't feel bad about liking white Zinfandel; they can't help it, physiologically speaking, because they are prisoners of their taste buds. That to me sounds a lot more snobbish than educating someone on better (yes, better) wines that have similar attractions, but are seriously made. "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, you like white Zinfandel due to your genetic make-up" "But Doc, can't I have a Riesling?" "No, I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do for you." If the focus is getting people to pick wine on a one-off basis, then I think it' a reasonable approach to getting people started on their wine journey. However, if the idea is to educate people to think constructively about wine choices, then it fails entirely. The bias seems to be that the hoi polloi can't be educated, so we might as well dumb things down to their level. I really object to that way of thinking.

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