Let’s face it, no one reads wine descriptions. The folks who publish them don’t even want you to read them. Oh, they go on and on about how you shouldn’t just rely on the ratings when deciding what wines to purchase, you should also carefully read the descriptions—the descriptions, they say, are more important than the ratings! But they’re so transparently full of crap. The numbers are in this size typeface, and the descriptions are like this. It’s obvious which genuinely matters more to them. However, we should also keep in mind that these reviews are published by men who actually think this is the same size as this. But the real problem is how universally boring wine reviews are. The turgid prose can’t compete with the excitement that numbers generate. I like to imagine how wine descriptions would read if they were written by great writers instead of guys with thesauruses. So, OK, here we go again…
Ayn Rand on Raveneau Chablis
There are great wines and there are horrid wines, but it is everything in between that is evil. To drink wines that are great is a duty, but the man who drinks crap at least knows it is crap. It is the man who drinks wines in between, he is the banal knave who ignores the truth, who pretends that there are no standards, no absolutes in wine, who believes that 89 Point wines have a right to exist, the uneducated Neanderthal, and it is he who destroys himself and the wine business. He is evil. I drink wine for myself, and I drink wine for you, but I would never ask that you drink wine for me. I live only for my own pleasure, and I have the batteries to prove it. And what is a man but a vessel for pleasure? A Love Boat cruising the wine-dark sea, a nightly party in his pants, his tiny Gopher in charge? There is only existence and non-existence, First Class and Coach, original and extra crispy, First Growth Bordeaux and Argentinean Malbec, which is for suckers, for the tasteless, for the Gaucho Marks. Go, drink the great wines, they were made for you! I liked the zesty acidity of this lovely white.
J. D. Salinger on Cakebread Cabernet
You probably want me to tell you all about this wine, how it smells and such. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t really matter. Knowing how this wine smells won’t make you happy, and it won’t make you know more about wine either. It’ll just make you wish you were dead and a lot of people were drinking the wine and talking about you, saying nice things like, “Oh, he could sure describe a wine,” or “I’ll bet his mother was the reason he wet the bed until he was forty.” I could say that this wine smells like cassis and tobacco, and you’d believe me. But you should know that I’m a liar, I’m a big liar, I lie more than winery marketing directors. I don’t even know what cassis is, and I don’t think anyone else does either. It’s just a word they say to make you feel like you’re not as smart as they are. I want to puke every time I read that word. It’s like terroir, which is another stupid word that wine writers use. I mean, this wine has terroir and cassis, and when I was tasting it that was all I could think about. I like a wine that when it’s really good you want to call up the winemaker, tell him how much you like the terroir and cassis in his wine, and then you could meet him for dinner and he’d talk about how he got the terroir in there. But this never happens. Mostly you just call them and they wish you’d shut the fuck up and die. Like it’s your fault they made 85 point wine.
Richard Pryor on Burgundy
I don’ unnerstand people who drink wine that costs more than the clothes they're wearin’. Who spends more money on a bottle of wine than on your damn underwear? Like, “I got to have that new fuckin’ Pinot Noir so I’ll just keep wearin’ these old skanky ass, skidmarked Jockey shorts until I can feel the Mistral up my butt.” You take off the pants of any damn wine connoisseur and now you got some bouquet. “Ooh, man, what is that damned ester I’m smellin’? That your ugly Aunt Esther, wears the Depends? Or is your hundred-dollar Pinot all barnyard and shit?” You don’ see no winos doin’ that. No, man, winos, they got some self-respect, don’ go drinkin’ no wine that costs more than the ratty clothes they’re wearin’. They get expensive wine like that they gonna sell it and get somethin’ really good—like heroin. Some ’88 Clos de Smack. This Burgundy shit ain’t that good. Ain’t never going to set your ass on fire!
“The time has come,” the Wall Street said,
“to talk of many things:
“Of screws--and cork--and sealing wax--
“of all that money brings--
“Of why the Zin is boiling hot--
“and all the crap Jay slings.”
“But wait a bit,” the Losers cried,
“Before we go to school;
“For some of us are clearly dupes,
“And each of us a fool.
“We drink our wines from Riedel glass
“So morons think we’re cool.”
“It seems a shame,” the Wall Street said,
“To play you such a trick.
“To taunt you with the wines we drink,
“And lay it on so thick.”
But this was scarcely true,
Because they’d hired such a prick.