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Wine Wisdom vs. Wine Stupidity

By Charles Olken

In the last day or so, we have witnessed examples of incredible wine wisdom and crass wine stupidity in wine writing. How can you tell the difference, a cynic might ask.

It’s quite simple, really. Wine wisdom is advice so smart on its face that one is stunned in rapt admiration at its expression. Wine stupidity, of which there are so many more examples than wine wisdom, is a comment so patently disprovable that one is stunned into laughter at its cupidity, its cheapness, its patent falseness.

And, in answer to the question that my granddaughter would ask, “Grandpa, can you give me an example”, I am happy to oblige.

Wine Wisdom: The wise man asks, “No one who makes wine worthy of a Gold Medal enters a wine competition to win a Gold Medal, so why are we awarding Gold Medals?”

Wine Stupidity (from the New York Times, no less): The prices for Napa Cabernets are “based more on consumers’ belief in the superiority of the region’s grapes than in the inherent quality of the liquid in the bottle.”

You won’t find many folks applauding the “wisdom” in that comment from the Hosemaster of Wine, but it is so simple, so basic that it puts the lie to the whole ersatz wine competition movement whose main goal is publicity for those who cannot get enough of it on their own.

But, you are going to find the wine airwaves crowded with righteous indignation at the crass stupidity in the NYT article—an article that ostensibly was about one winery that cheated with its wines as it was about to go bankrupt but which wound up slamming the best wines made here in California with unsubstantiated nonsense.

Wisdom vs. stupidity? I’ll take wisdom every time. But it is a little bit scary to discover that The Hosemaster of Wine is more intelligent, more insightful, more honest in his commentary than the New York Times.


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