The Wandering Wino Blog

Wine Civil War - Why Do We Do It?


I try to spend a little time listening to what others are saying about wine. I read print, pro-media, books, and blogs. I also watch videos and like to ask people about their perspective. I hear many writers and winemakers saying things like, "drink what you like" and "I'm non-pretentious". It's that "come on in, the water is fine" type of vibe. Some really mean it. I'm also hearing very divisive apspects people choose about wine, in a very vocal manner.

What am I talking about? Chardonnay, oak vs no oak. I'm talking about this region vs. that region. I'm talking about, nothing should ever excist on the planet that is over 13.5% alcohol. Did I just step on a few toes, or the whole foot? What happened to the water is fine?

I'm not saying you can't have an opinion or a personal palette prefrence. I love to hear the views of others. I also enjoy speaking with those capable of adult conversations relating to religion, politics, abortion, and capital punishment. I want to hear an opinion, not have mine changed. I respect you, you respect me. Put your big boy pants on. Kids need not apply.

For so long, wine has been this overly pretentious ominous "thing" to many. I worked in a very high end restaurant that had a sommilier, a maitre'D, and a wine list to be proud of. Many of the guests were overly pretentious, and often put on a show that they knew more then they really did. Yes, they had the money to travel and drink the world, but many still had no clue.

Gary Vaynerchuk was like a fly in a bowl of buttermilk, of the wine industry with his rise to fame. He brought a sense of confident approachability, that many were seeking. Since that time, many more wine personality types have come out with the similar approach. This is what the wine industry needed for the next generations of wine drinkers.

Many were after the "let's rid the Thirston Howell III types" on the party scene (Giligans Island if you missed it). Now that some of the wine scene seems to be more approachable, we have people drawing lines in the sandbox.

If the intention is truely, "drink what you like," and so many appear to want to seem approachable, then why the heck are industry people drawing lines in the sand? Why is there a division? Why must it be made this way, if you drink this type of wine that now you are now tossed into some "wine box?" 

Let me be clear, if someone has a prefrence for low/high alcohol wine, Merlot, white zin, unoaked or tooth pick oak Chardonny, then shouldn't we just be happy they are drinking and buying wine? I've heard some say things like, "we owe much to white zinfandel." It got people drinking wine. Why aren't people saying the same thing about high alcohol fruit bombs? Why hasn't anyone seen these wines as a vehicle to "the next stage." Maybe better question, do they need to move to another stage?

I heard someone well known in the industry, say things in adimit opposition of high alcohol wines. He said that the American palette grew up on hamburgers and milk shakes. That they crave these high alcohol fruit bombs that get the ratings. I could hear the frustation in his voice. He went on to say that if you want a big wine score from the major press, just produce big alcohol wines. 

You bet your sweet @$$ I'm an American that grew up on hamburgers and milk shakes. I'm an American and proud of it.  I will say however, he has some valid, yet offensive points. Yes, this appears to be what the American masses want in a wine, high alcohol fruit bombs. Why is that wrong? Are we really being wine approachable, or are we being snobby about wine, and creating wine walls?

I asked a consumer I know very well, how many wine clubs they have. They responded with, "maybe six clubs." I asked which ones. Many from a region known for producing high alcohol wines. I asked him, "which is your favorite and why?" He indicated a winery that could be the poster child for high alcohol fruit bombs. He said,"because of the wine, and the customer service." I'm familair with both well. He was correct in my view on the customer service. The wines, I cannot argue about what's in his mouth, can I? The wine club is very signiicant in size of members. Sounds like lot of cheeseburgers and milkshakes selling by the pallet. 


  • Evil Bottle
    Posted Saturday 26 November 2011 05:02
    I have a preference, and I wear it on my sleeve. having said that,I think that wine is just like anything else in life. Do you like Classical music, or Dub-Step? Do you like Socialism, or open market, free trade capitalism? Different strokes for different folks. Do I think Cartoon wines are bull$hit? Indeed I do, but that is my opinion based on my personal tastes which are a representation of where my family comes from how I was raised. In the end, the fact that we are even having this conversation, is progress in my book. The idea that wine styles are being discussed and debated is fun, entertaining, and refreshing. I like where the wine world is headed in general, even if I may disagree with a certain style or idea of what exactly a wine should be. Cheers.
  • Beau
    Posted Tuesday 29 November 2011 22:39
    I still say drink what you like...When you like..While the wine community has become more inclusive, there are still too many stuffy, pretentious wine critics, bloggers, and even winemakers out there.

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