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Thursday Thorns
The Rick Perry Gaffe—I’ve Got The Wine Angle

By Charles Olken

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we mistake a Bordeaux for Burgundy and sometimes we confuse Syrah with Pinot Noir. Those are mistakes of commission. They happen within a larger context and are mistakes of judgment.

What happens when we make mistakes in knowledge? What happens when we think Shiraz, the Aussie version of Syrah, got its downunder monicker because the grape was originally cultivated in ancient Persia. Not true, of course. What happens when we think we have the real Syrah growing in California’s vineyards only to find out that what we really have is “son of Syrah”, and it is only a half chip off the old block. Not good, but we recover—even if it took Petite Sirah about two decades to get over the insults once we found out that it was half Peloursin.

We all make mistakes. Rick Perry was asked to identify the Departments of the U. S. Government that he would do away with and he couldn’t. I misspelled Riesling the first time I wrote about it. Lots of letters and one red face ensued. Not so long ago, a writer friend of mine wrote an article about Tuscany and mentioned Nebbiolo as a grape that was grown prominently there. Not so, of course. It all comes back to what we have been talking about this week.

You need knowledge to talk knowingly about a subject. Anybody can run for President. Anybody can be a winewriter. Anybody can practice medicine without a license. I did just yesterday when I cured my granddaughter’s headache by telling her that I was not going to take her to soccer practice if she was not feeling up to it. But, just as that bit of trickery and the occasional aspirin are the extents of my medical practice, so too should folks who espouse false theories about wine know their limits. Mr. Perry, who by all accounts is a popular Governor in his state, wound up beyond his knowledge level last night. It happens to us all at some point. I prefer a little humility in my politicians and my winewriters because we all make mistakes.

Sometimes, it is role of this and other blogs to look at the mistakes of commission and omission. I hope we don’t forget the names of the grapes in our bailiwick, but sooner or later, we are going to mistake a Cab for a Pinot Noir. It won’t mean that we don’t know the difference any more than Mr. Perry’s momentary brain outage means that he does not understand government. Mistakes happen. We will keep pointing out those made by others when we see them—as we did the other day in our comments about varietal identification. Some folks may not like it, but there is a price to be paid of the mistakes of hubris just as there is a price to be paid for the mistakes of brain outages. The one thing we can promise you about this blog. It will not be used to announce our run for President.


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by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:11/10/2011 11:13:11 AM

You have a wine angle for that whole manic maple syrup thing too?

Rick Perry...
by christian miller
Posted on:11/11/2011 1:29:46 PM actually more alarming when he finishes his sentences.

No Subject
by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:11/12/2011 12:16:42 PM

I forget; who's Rick Perry?

Seriously, the flaw in your argument, Charlie, is the use of Perry's gaffe to make your point. In his case, he not only was in a debate that is ostensibly intended to show the world how well the candidate can handle important questions and issues, but alos he had two people try to help him remember and he still didn't know what eh was talkign about. Actually, the speculation in some quareters is that Perry's gaffe may in fact be related to wine...'sall I'll say about that.;)

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