Wednesday, February 10, 2010

14 is the New 98

It's been noted just about everywhere that the economic downturn hasn't slowed down the pace of wine drinkers, it has only led to them drinking cheaper bottles. I think this conclusively demonstrates that humans, for all of their interminable wine descriptions and snobbery, drink wine to get drunk. Not to taste the terroir, about as stupid a concept as exists in the wine business (OK, factor in about 43 elements to "terroir," swirl the glass, and then let your pathetically human olfactory senses and pedestrian tastebuds pick them all up, add them together, and come up with, Oh, this must be from the fucking Jura!), not to savor the purity and vividness of finely balanced, single-vineyard, highly allocated, David Abreu-managed, Philip Melkanized, Pope Michel Rolland-canonized grape juice, not to perfectly complement their exquisitely produced meal ("It's Shake and Bake, and I helped!"), but to get inebriated, to alter their mental state so that they don't have to think so much about their unemployment, their failed marriage, their stupid blog (OK, I'll cop to two out of three). Suddenly the only points that matter are the ones before the decimal point in the price. 14 is the new 98. We drink wine to get drunk, but in a classier way than just bellying up to the bar and drinking man shots of distilled whatever-the-hell-is-cheapest.

If you go to a wine tasting event at your local wine shop from one in the afternoon until five o'clock, you're a connoisseur, you're pursuing your newly discovered and oh-so civilized passion for wine! If you go to your local watering hole from 1:00 until 5:00, you're a stinking alkie. But the result is the same. You go home for dinner already drunk. Your passion for wine is most certainly a passion for the altered state of being pissed. I have no problem with that, in fact, I play a drunk on TV, but why all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds wine? Sure, when folks were paying $100 for a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet, it behooved one to ooh and ahh about its aroma, its texture, its terroir, the beauty of its balance, how it opens up with air--you're trying to slow down the pinheads you stupidly opened the bottle for from guzzling more than their share. And it's so much cooler to get drunk on expensive wine! It actually does taste better. But right now folks are going for that solid 8.00 point wine instead of that stodgy old expensive 94 pt masterpiece. Why? Well, if we were so spoiled and our palates so easily offended by wines that only scored 82, wines we'd have turned our noses up to before we all had to chip in and bailout AIG, we'd give up drinking. But we don't really care. We drink wine to get drunk. Who cares about the score? What's the price?

And what will this do to point inflation in the wine media? There is point inflation, you know. It wasn't very long ago that 90 points was seen as a breakthrough score. 90 points now is threshold undrinkable. You wouldn't give Paris Hilton's vagina 90 points. (See photo--just kidding) Not in every publication, but in all of the ones that accept advertising, 90 points just doesn't cut it any more. Especially when my wine, which I heavily advertise in your magazine, is still languishing in its distributors' warehouses. I need more goddam points! You don't like it, fine! But if it used to be a 90, these days you'd better give it at least 95! And, as a bonus, all the shelf talkers in inept wine shops will carry your name and not your competitor's! Hmm, Connoisseurs' Guide gave it 88 points, worth a star, that's pretty good, but Wine and Spirits gave it 95...which score should I display? That's a headscratcher.

Wine publications don't just exist to please their advertisers, though that is the main reason. They also try to pander to their readers (if only so that they can charge higher advertising rates). So more and more inexpensive wines are going to get higher and higher scores, whether they deserve them or not. Scores mean nothing anyway, why not inflate them a little, give our readers a little ego boost? They can't afford the 95 point wine that costs $50, why not throw them a Beaune, a nice little Burgundy that sells for about $20? Two years ago it might have merited 86 points. But, hell, it'll sell more, we'll get our name in all their promotional material, our easily influenced, insecure readers will be happy, if we give it 91. But, we must not forget to repeat, over and over, ad nauseum, that our scores are strictly objective and fact-based--like in figure skating.

So the scores of cheaper wine will continue to creep up while the scores for luxury wine will stay about the same. Won't we all feel better? Of course we will, we'll be drunk. I can imagine the cover articles for various wine publications.

Wine Spectator

90+ Point Wines Under $15!
We're Still Hopelessly Inept, But We've Adjusted Our Scores Just For You

Wine Enthusiast

You Don't Have to Spend a Lot of Money to Get Drunk!
WE's Crack Editors Have Bonus Points For All 87 Subscribers!

Wine and Spirits

100 Wines Under $15 That You've Never Heard Of!
It's 90 Points If We Say So!

Mutineer Magazine

10 Ways to Get Your Girlfriend to Drink Cheap Wine
Hey, We'll Give You a Subscription and You Don't Even Have to Read this Junk!


Charlie Olken said...

I have now read this blog four times, and I still can't figure out what is wrong with it. Somehow, it just does not sit right.

But, maybe now I am beginning to get it. This is a serious editorial. This entry is not just about making fun of folks and things that need their egos pricked, their balloons bust, their oversized heads shrunk, their inflated self-opinions reduced, their high-faluting nonsense brought back to earth.

No, this is serious stuff. OK, I get it. You are tired of being Costello. Now you want to be Abbott too. You no longer want to be WC Fields. You want to be Charlie McCarthy. You want to be Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens.

Well, the members of the Hosemaster Marching Band and Chowder Society are having none of it, see. We pay for silly shit. We pay for belly laughs. We pay to be six years old again. What the hell are you doing? Trying to grow up before our very eyes???

Or, to put it another way. A very thoughtful social commentary. Good on 'ya. Now tell me a joke.

Thomas said... other words, Ron, once you establish your value, you can't increase your worth.

Me, I liked it, and need nothing more from you than your honest feelings, whether funny or otherwise.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,

Wow, you read this post four times? That's four more times than I've read it. I'm thinking I should publish it in Braille so that all the people who taste my blog blind will understand.

I do think scores for cheap wines will creep up like cheap panties, which I'm wearing right now. How's that for thoughtful social commentary? Just another creepy crack.

In all the blogs that I read or can stomach, except for My Gorgeous Samantha's, insobriety is never the subject. Yet the nimrod who tastes 220 Zins at ZAP ignores the notion that he must be constantly drunk, which explains the dullness of his wits. And the harlots, whores, sluts and dudes of wine never talk about the altered states they so obviously manifest when they sit down to write their unintelligible blogs. Even Wark only gets drunk on booze and not his clients' samples. Yet more and more it appears we drink wine not for the prestige or the points but to get shitfaced.

Hey, I'm a dummy, but I'm no Charlie McCarthy. And that hand up my ass is not Huckleberry Jackson's--not like it is up Hardy's.


So, you're saying that this post wasn't funny?

Sure, side with the majority.

Thomas said...


Did I say that?

Ever watch the evolving career of some clowns? Often a fascinating progression that begins as funny, with a point and ends as poignant, with a laugh.

Thomas said...

By the way, I don't drink wine to get drunk--I start out that way from the aperitif!

Samantha Dugan said...

Yeah, what Thomas said...that whole clown thing.

I talk about being drunk all the time, shit half my post are written when I am sauced or saucy. Hard to tell as I have only half a wit to dull in the first place!


You mean wine contains alcohol ????

Who knew!?!?!

Some people must believe the bottles come with "scores" and these have escalated over the years...they used to "score" 12-point-five, but in the 1970s and 1980s they rose to 13 to 14 and now many wines score in the range of 14-point-five to 16.

Some may argue otherwise, but with this rise in the number on the label (and the number on the price tag), we've seen a dramatic rise in the numerical scores doled out by various critics.

The Shanken Guide to the Good Life was taken to task by various producers of high-ticket Italian wines, noting that they produce 90+ point wines (costing $50-$400 a bottle) and that awarding 92 points to a $12 Tuscan table wine was simply sbagliato .
The new vintage, slightly superior to last year's, has been, therefore, awarded a score in the mid-to-high 80s, where an everyday-priced bottle should be (according to those who know they make 90+ point wines).


PS: I have tasted some "fucking Jura" wines and noticed these got a score of 69 from Jimmy Sucking of Ham Shanken's magazine. Ironic?

Puff Daddy said...


How do you explain the sexual promiscuity of Jura wines? And if Suckling has awarded them just 69 points, is that good or bad for sexual active wines?

And how would he know anyhow?

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Oh, OK, I'm a clown. I prefer fool, but I guess that's what I get for driving 25 of my friends around in my Prius. And some folks comment on my large red nose. Which is insulting because I don't wear a fake nose.

Anon 1,

OK, enough with the high alcohol. The high alcohol and I are friends, and, obviously, it contributes to my theory that we only drink wine to get drunk. Is it so amazing German wines are wildly ignored? No! Not enough alcohol! Is it so amazing that gigantic, alcoholic wines get higher scores? No! They get us drunker. We like them. Is it coincidence that even the great French wines keep creeping up in alcohol? No, my friends, it's all about the alcohol.

The only balance I care about is the one I lose when I've finally had too much to drink.

And, by the way, it's like old home week around the HoseMaster comment section this post. Just Charlie, My Gorgeous Samantha, Thomas and Anon 1. Kind of cozy, eh?


I just like the word "Jura," it's a comedy word, like "pants."

Who's there?
Jura who?
Jura moron for answering the door.
So true
Yes, trousseau

Help, I'm turning into Anon 1!

Thomas said...

Jura long way from being funny with that knock-knock, Ron...

We share the same nose color. I got mine through years of those aperitifs and the wines that follow them. But I admit that it all started with:

What's the word?
What's the price?
Thirty twice.

60 cents was the price of a pint way back then...there's history behind this red schnozz.

Jimmie Schnipke said...


There were four more lines to the T-bird limerick. Fill in the missing two...

How's it sold?

Who drinks the most?

Jimmie Schnipke

Thomas said...


Nice and cold.

But the last line eludes me. I must have finished the bottle before getting to it.

Geez, I can still taste that stuff...

Arthur said...


So can I, but then I keep a few bottles of the stuff in my fridge.
Sometimes, the night does not feel special enough for Franzia Crisp White.

Jimmie Schnipke said...

Tom -

I could never finish a fifth of T-Bird. I'd just have a couple of pints instead.

Jimmie Schnipke

Arthur said...

Thomas, you might remember this:

Thomas said...


Someone sent me that video a few weeks ago.

I also remember the suave Caesar Romero doing T-bird commercials. I love the way they referenced the "unusual flavor." I'll say it is; a cross between lemon and lysol...

Arthur said...

that would be the terpenes from the green stems and untoasted oak, right?.......