Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Deciders vs. the Influencers – A saga for espousing wine in the new era

There are voices out there, in the ether of the internet, who are pushing the idea of the demise of the old guard. “The decider class is dying,” they clamor, hurling salvos about the decrepitude of the voices that have guided many folks into the world of wine. “It’s all over now, the blue bloods no longer tell us which red wines we should buy, with their 100-point scales and bloviated tasting notes. It does nothing for me, tells me nothing about my experience, my relationship with the wine I choose.” It’s risen to more than a gentle ferment. The young lions want the silverbacks to “get the blazes out of our world.”  Is the age of the authority done with? Or is the new blood punching the upper crusts out of the way, hustling out the Decider Class and ferrying in the Influencer Squad? Is it really a new age, or is this merely a successive approximation, dolled up to look hip and dope?

But it is an evolution of a sort. New? Not exactly. Things don’t develop that rapidly from one generation to another, unless we’re talking computers and phones. But our carbon-based life form moves at a snail’s pace for the new-gens. That has been a consistent and reccurring theme in the pageant of human progress.

Every generation thinks, more or less, that they are inventing the experiences that they are having. Love, sex, parenting, appreciation of the arts, music, food, truth. And adroitness in wine appreciation. In fact, in the last 50 or so years, there have been quantum leaps in the kinds of wines we are being exposed to, and appreciating. So, maybe there is something to the notion of the evolution of tastes.

When the old guard, 50 years ago, protected their beloved French wines, Bordeaux and Burgundy, it was uncommon to find wines from Italy or California considered with the same level of love and validity as their French counterparts. They were the “others.” Forget about wines from South Africa, Chile, New Zealand, et al. And natural wines - "natty wines", orange wines, pet-nat, the tsunami of the new millennium’s expressions of vinosity - were nonexistent in the past one, barely 20 years ago. So, the world might need new voices to beat the drum of these little darlings.

Funny, because these new expressions, in some circles, are treated with derision, much like the Italian wines I’d schlepp around, back in the day, when French wine (and French wine snobs) ruled. We would never think of treating someone’s baby, or child, with that kind of scorn. In fact, if we did, someone might call Child Protective Services on us. But a young person, just getting into wine, and curious about wine from their generation, streams a piquette on the net, and a cyber-range fire surges. It’s just wine. Why the hubbub?

Right now there are partial bottles of wines in my fridge. Old Bordeaux, California old vine Chenin, Friuli orange wine, a sad little bottle of Prosecco, and others, which for whatever reason, didn’t get finished. Well, there was a reason – maybe they weren’t delicious, or tasty enough, at the time, to be finished. (Or, more likely, there were too many wines to try, and we couldn’t finish all of them). But it isn’t the end of the world. I might never get around to drinking that wine from Friuli, or the 40-year-old Napa Cabernet. So what? It’s not worth waging a war over.

I know this young fellow, well he’s not that young anymore, but he’s definitely younger than me. And he’s pretty intent of bringing down the patriciate. He’s all for the proletariat. Yeah, I know, some of us heard this in Berkeley and Columbia, at UT Austin and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. It was all the rage, along with chairman Mao hats and his little red book, back in the analog days.

He says the decider class is passe. The irony with what he is saying, is that he is trying to speak with the same authority that he is denigrating, in the so-called decider class. He wants you to listen to him, because he knows better, what you should be doing and looking at, and considering. Which sounds an awful lot like what he says the decider class is doing. So, where does that leave one, who really wants to break the shackles of those who have formed our ideas about wine (and beyond) and really take the decision in our hands, be our own deciders, our own influencers, even? Has wine not gotten to that point that we can dispense with most of the blather, both in print and online?

Look, I don’t think it matters anymore. That’s the message I keep getting. Drink what you like, and drink it with whatever you want to eat. It’s ultimately up to you, the individual, to decide what is delicious and right at any point in time. Some people love wine with a little brett, some like it stinky and oxidized. Some want the rush of rich, French oak, some want the 1-2 punch of high alcohol. Some want the wine they drink to strip the teeth of enamel and burn the throat going down. That’s pleasure for them, all of these experiences. You don’t need me to tell you that, I’m just re-emphasizing that you have absolute control in the process to decide what is right for you.

And for those wines, that for whatever reason, don’t pass muster? That never get consideration from the (outgoing) deciders or the (incoming) influencers? What about them? Well, those wines usually age out of inventory in warehouses and retail back rooms, and eventually end up on a close-out rack somewhere in Kankakee or Cuyamungue.  Not everything is subject to the influence of the deciders or is decided upon by the influencers. Not every wine, crosses the finish line or gets a medal.  

Shine on you crazy diamond.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Mitchell Pressman said...

Deciders and Influencers - same. Backlash against points and pontification in the wine world is both expected and mostly welcome. What would be even more welcome? Humility. Even the most learned MW or MS never knows it all. Respect for the work even the most ordinary family-owned/operated wine estate must put in to produce a bottle of wine. Patience. It takes years to get wine into a bottle - take more than a few seconds to decide whether or not it's worth drinking/buying. But hey, attributes like humility, respect and patience generally come with experience, if at all.

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