But it kind of got to me. Here we were – this fellow had someone in front of him who had spent their whole professional career in the study of Italian wine – Hell, even had some recognition for it – but he wasn’t buying into my expertise.
Both of these incidents punctuate the epitome of peer-reviews and just how unpredictable collectors and wine buyers have become with the new Babel-standard we find ourselves in. It also speaks to how we get our information and what kind of currency we subscribe to perceived expertise, whether it be a recognized one, or one among our peers. I find also the aspect of trust plays into this. The middle-aged white man, by all accounts, should have been a ripe candidate to trust the counsel of what I (another white man not far from his generation) was offering. I can readily understand a 30-something not wanting to have any part of me – the young wine director wants to “discover” Italian wines in his own way and in his own time and the idea of being mentored by an elder who has trodden the path just doesn’t fit into his cosmogony. It wasn’t how I went about it when I was his age, but maybe his way will work out for him just fine. There just isn’t anything I can do to help him – his world doesn’t leave room for folks like me.
What future for expertise?” in which she offered a glimpse into her path. One aspect that resonated with me was the sheer volume of wine she tastes (“up to 100 wines a day”). I daresay my middle-aged collector has never had to do that. Unlikely that the young wine director has either. Jancis clearly makes a case for the professional wine critic who sees tasting as work, and work to be pursued with diligence. For that alone, people like her have earned the right to have (and to share) her erudite commentary about wine be considered expert advice.
“I would honestly be delighted if every wine drinker felt confident enough to make their own choices dependent on their own individual responses to wines previously tasted. But I do recognize that for many people it will always be simpler to be told what to like,” Ms. Robinson writes. Being told what to like is experiencing a seismic shift, with information bombarding all of us, daily. And for those who prefer to “go it alone,” why not? Maybe they will discover something new in the wine world. A new orange wine, an oaky Super-Tuscan no one has heard of, a California wine from 100 year old Angelica vines in Eldorado County. It’s possible. Although it’s a bit like the tree that falls in the forest - who is hearing it?
“With access to an army of opinionated young wine drinkers, whether consumers or professionals pouring their latest finds by the glass in a bar in Shoreditch or showing fellow enthusiasts round an urban winery in Brooklyn, like any expert nowadays, I know I can stay in the game only by working hard and accurately enough to earn my readers' trust.” Ms. Robinson’s spot-on assessment offers a humble, honest, cogent plan. Not that it will help me with the 50-something collector or the 30ish “go it alone” guy. But like all the wines we have to choose from, so there are as many (or more) people whom we can enter into meaningful discourse, whether it be virtual or in camera.
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