Friday, January 29, 2010
Notes On a Sellout's Book
Writing HoseMaster of Wine is a lot easier than I make it look. Wine and the business of wine are subjects I've spent my life studying, and the results are clear. I've wasted my life. What I should be writing about, the subject most wine bloggers find endlessly interesting, is myself. And I would, only my life is duller than the finish on a wine from Sterling Vineyards, and my readership is already plummeting off a cliff like a Toyota Camry with its accelerator stuck. (I don't know, why is it that Toyotas suddenly make me nostalgic for kamikazes?) So I won't bore you, all nine of you, with stories of my day, my past, my hopes, my dreams, but I will bore you with a bunch of random thoughts that have been rattling around in my subpar brain.
The recent Gomberg Fredrikson report (isn't a Gomberg made up of frozen gom?) about the California wine industry states that sales of California wine over $15 have nosedived in the past year. Much has been made of this, but, really, isn't the only rational conclusion that people really only drink wine to get drunk? That for all the tortured tasting notes printed in endlessly monotonous wine magazines, for all the "reviews" faithfully posted by the parade of witless wine bloggers (too many to list here, but for the very nadir of witless check out WineHarlots--makes you want to ralph nadir), for all the wine tastings, and food and wine pairings, and pomp and circumstances of the wine trade, all consumers really want is to get drunk. That's the only conclusion that makes sense. They're not drinking less, they're drinking cheaper. So they don't give a crap about numbers or reviews or quality--they need to drink themselves into oblivion. And they don't care where it's from--Argentina, Bulgaria, South Africa, New York, all those places where English is a foreign language--so long as it's cheap and has at least 14% alcohol. All the damn ratings in the world can't sell your $40 Syrah right now--it's a $15 world. 96 point Merlot for $35? Who cares? Trader Joe's has wine for $5.99, and it tastes just fine. Who the hell cares about your wondrous Corvina from a tiny estate in Valpolicella that tastes like sunset at the Algonquin round table (not a pizza restaurant, by the way)? The consumers have loudly and overwhelmingly voted in favor of a cheap drunk. Oh crap, I have to stop reading Tom Wark.
I've always had this theory that wines are more reflective of their winemaker than they are of their terroir. For example, when you meet a typical Australian winemaker you begin to understand why his Shiraz is so loud and forward and high in alcohol. So is he. It's weird how this works. A thoughtful and contemplative winemaker tends to make wines that are subtle and understated and, well, thoughtful, if a wine can be thoughtful. Which it can't. Loud people make loud wines. Fat people make wines that are often overblown. It goes on and on. Just sayin' Oh crap, I have to stop reading Samantha Dugan.
Not that I check it obsessively, like Lady MacBeth washing her hands or Oprah working the panties out of her crack, but I notice my readership is declining. Is that because I'm not compulsive about Twitter or Facebook? Or is it because everyone is tired of my twaddle? Or is it because I suck? Maybe it's because I insult bloggers so often, and the only people who read blogs are other bloggers. Should I start being nice to other bloggers? Hang around other blogs and post fascinating comments? "Gosh, Steve, Wine Enthusiast is so powerful, and your events are so important! Thank you for reminding us." "1WineDude, man, I'll contribute a dollar if you'll just shut up." "Gary V., how does it feel to be the Millennial's Reverend Ike, only way less pretty?" Or should I just quit?
Why is it that wine blogs make me like wine less and not more?