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Monday Manifestos
Drink It If You Like It—But It Better Be Good

By Stephen Eliot

I have no issues with those who like to remind that taste is a personal thing, and I would never belittle anyone for liking the wines that they like. My patience, however, has pretty much disappeared with those who lecture that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” in wine, that quality is solely and singularly in the eye of beholder.

The endless invocation of every imaginable caveat to making a judgment about any wine serves no one well, and, I would ask the new generation of self-published wine critics to please take a stand.

Yes, I know that setting and mood and food and such will have an influence on how we might perceive this or that wine, but I simply cannot let go of the idea that there are boundaries to “good” and “bad” that are apparent to most every wine lover with a bit of experience and a modest attention span. “Whatever you like” might play well in the blogosphere, but as a professional, I cannot abide it. “Whatever you like” must come with the qualification that a wine needs to be good.

The catalyst for my latest musings on the topic was a pair of remarkably good wines we pulled out for dinner this past weekend. I had the craving for a serious and substantial red wine or two, and chose the 2005 Skipstone Cabernet blend and the 2005 Ojai Vineyard Roll Ranch Syrah to accompany a couple of perfectly grilled filets. Both wines were gorgeous; deep, brilliantly balanced, wonderfully complex and very much coming into their own with nearly eight years of age. Everyone at the table, from a couple of picky professionals, myself included, to absolute novices was struck at the sheer deliciousness of the wines.

We did not speak of terroir, technique or winemaking ethics, and there were no quibbles, no ifs, ands or buts as to just how good the wines were. I was once again reminded, while however unique our particular perspectives might be, that quality is transcendent and that great wine has the ability to reach us all.

Lately, we are too often told that Millennial wine drinkers are changing the rules of fine wine. That may be true as far as marketing goes, but I do not believe that they are in any way different when it comes to the ability to recognize and pursue quality. And, as time passes, they like all that have gone before them will hone their senses and tastes to a very keen edge. Tyler Balliet, the mind behind the Millennial-geared Wine Riot events, recently observed that the new generation of wine-interested folk are a saavy bunch and to get their attention “the wine has to be good. If it sucks, we see right through it.”

Yep, quality is not an out-dated concept and will endure despite silly claims that it might be made irrelevant by the “drink-what-you-like” mantra. Calls for new, “hyperfresh” ways of thinking about wine are not about to change that simple fact. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And that’s no joke.


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It better be good
by Tom Barras
Posted on:4/1/2013 7:13:48 PM


Agree completely with you!.  Even when  it is  nothing more than "just a beverage," wine must be judged by some very elementary principles, which for many people is simply not worth the effort.

 Just as they may oblivious as to why the food on their plate tastes so delicious, so it is for their beverage of choice.  While the wine may be "drinkable" or worse yet "pourable," for many it is still  "good."  





by TomHill
Posted on:4/2/2013 10:46:44 AM

Tyler Balliet, the mind behind the Millennial-geared Wine Riot events, recently observed that the new generation of wine-interested folk are a saavy bunch and to get their attention “the wine has to be good. If it sucks, we see right through it.”


Hmmmm.....not quite sure if you're agreeing w/ that statement or not, Steve.  It strikes me as utterly vapid. I'm not sure, exactly, as to what constitutes a wine that "sucks". I assume it's a wine that they don't enjoy when they drink it right off. So..I assume that when they're served a young Barolo, it "sucks" because it has a lot of tannin and is not luush & round???

   I drink wine w/ some "millennials" from time-to-time. I don't think I can identify in them a single/simple profile or characterization of their tastes. Their idea of what constitutes a "good" wine or a wine that "sucks" is nothing I can pin down. Just like us "old folks", in fact. Any wnry that tries to make its wine tailored to what the "millennials" taste is supposed to be is probably doomed to failure. Now as to marketing a "good" wine to the millennials...that's a whole nuther thing.



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