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A Glimmer of Hope That The Wine Wars May Be Easing

By Stephen Eliot

Is it possible that the conversation about wine is beginning to change? The arguments that make up the rather monotonous daily fare are the same. They remain essentially grounded in “old” versus “new” regarding everything from regions, varieties and the ways in which wines are grown, made and sold to the journalism about the same, but there are at least a few scattered signs that sanctimonious attacks on the preferences of others may be easing. Although, the battle for hearts and minds may be ongoing, there just might be a slight change in tone.

Now, it may be wishful thinking on my part, but I admit to a glimmer of hope. I find it in a recent internet exchange about the “Old Guard” and the “New” wherein the usual hurling of spears was followed by a fairly amicable embrace of “diversity” by all sides and agreement that liking what you like might actually be okay. It is about time.

I have always wondered how it was that someone could profess to love wine yet drip with disdain for the joy found by others who loved wines they did not. Then, again, I suppose that religious wars are nothing new.

Wine and wine writing are businesses; that cannot be ignored, but both are businesses the successes of which depend on providing customer service, and that service, it seems to me, should be a pathway to pleasure rather than endless bleating about what is wrong in an effort to gain new coverts and acolytes in some holy war. What is “good” does not require arcane philosophical explanation nor does it need comparison to “bad” in order to be understood. If, as many would argue, “good” resides in the eye of the beholder, it is not made any better by putting someone or something else down.

There are those who see everything “new” as being de facto better than “old”, while others regard anything “new” as a threat. It is true in most things from politics to religion to business, and wine seems not to be immune. Sectarian thinking is nothing new in the wine world, but it is not and never has been useful. Fine wine is a culture, not a contest, and any culture is defined by shared values. It is not static, but neither is it something that needs re-inventing every day. Culture is a continuum, a constant melding of tradition and innovation, of the old and the new lest it wither and die.

The fact that there are countless new wines of every style continuously coming our ways should not be seen as in indictment of the past, and it is time we moved on from a parochial past in which there is no room for “new.” I understand that new wines might threaten those with comfortable sinecures in making, selling and writing about wine; there is after all only so much retailer shelf space and room on a wine list, and keeping up with what is new demands work and attention, but no one gets ahead by digging in their heels and refusing to move. Neither will those who cannot recognize the worth of what already is.


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by TomHill
Posted on:6/1/2015 10:51:45 AM

A bit too quick on the trigger, Steve. And along comes the NYTimes Magazine article and notches up the "controversy" a decibel or two.

   Like you, I find these "discussions"  waaaay too tedious and boring and tiiring. You just sorta learn to ignore water off a cat's back. Too many other things to talk about in the wine world.

   As you know...I tend to like the "new". If I sit down to a fine slab of grilled beef and have to choose a will not be the MonteBello...which is clearly a "better" wine than most anything else. I'll, instead, reach for the Matthiasson Schioppettino; not because it's "better" (prolly isn't) but because it's more "interesting"..I want  to find out what it's like. Other times, I'll reach for the MonteBello, which will likewise engage my mind and also be lip -smackin' good. But there's room for them all.



How Many Times?
by Charlie
Posted on:6/1/2015 2:33:29 PM

i thot this dead topic was truly dead. It is no longer a topic of any value.  It's all been said and even folks in Ipablum will admit that the category was always there. 

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