Monday, June 29, 2009
My Horrible Confession
I have a terrible confession to make. I hesitate to bring it up, but it's weighing on my conscience. Oh, sure, I've done terrible things before. I once bought a Cabernet that Steve Heimoff had given 96 points and painted my garage with it. And then there was the time I took a monkey to a Napa Valley Barrel Tasting and had everyone convinced it was Harvey Steiman--which really pissed off the monkey. I seduced a mule. But nothing like this. I'm so sorry. Really. OK, here goes...
I swear to God this is Harvey. He loves your '05 Cabernet. That IS a banana in my pants.
I spent Father's Day Weekend judging at a wine competition.
I know, I know, it's unforgivable. In wine business terms, it's the ultimate sell-out. Ask any wine blogger and they'll tell you. Don't believe anyone who assigns numbers to wine, don't believe any wine publications, they're all on the take, don't believe the results of wine competitions, they are useless beyond compare. So where should a consumer turn for informed and objective reviews of wines? Wine blogs. Simple as that. Come on, figure it out. No one can sit and judge 100 wines in a single day fairly and accurately. Unless, of course, you go to a large public wine tasting (that you didn't pay for because you're such a famous blogger), take notes, then write about it on your blog with a large list of all the wines you loved, really liked, liked quite a bit, adored, would marry or thought were a bit "shut down." Or perhaps the blogger went on an industry sponsored sojourn to Australia or Chile or Spain, spent several days being shuttled from winery to winery, meal to meal, sipping countless wines and having his voluminous and pimply ass kissed by actual winemakers but still has the astonishing presence of mind to know a great wine when he tastes one. I'm embarrassed to say that beside that sort of objectivity and talent the skills of wine professionals tasting wines blind seem particularly pathetic.
I'm ashamed of myself. I was thinking of suicide but that's too easy. Plus, it's my month to come up with a topic for Wine Blogging Wednesday. I know. How about "Wines You Know Something About?" So as punishment for judging at a wine competition I've decided to do something especially painful and drastic. Watch every episode of WineLibraryTV. (As an aside, I hear that's what happened to Peter Falk.) Maybe that will teach me to not participate in the travesty that is a wine competition.
I call the competition I judged in the "A T & T Wireless Competition" because the judges have been in "more bars in more cities than anyone else." We spent two and a half days tasting through a total of nearly 4400 wines from all over the world. You simply cannot believe how many of the wines are commercially unacceptable. The range of descriptors went from "urinal cake" to "coroner's breath," from "slightly frizzante Old Spice" to "Rush Limbaugh's skid marks." What you often take away from judging at a wine competition is the depth and breadth of crap that's out there. It's breathtaking, and I mean that literally. You sniff more sulfur aromas than a horny poodle. Or Larry King.
No matter what their detractors say, Wine Competitions serve a purpose. And I would venture to say that they are equally as reliable as any wine reviewer, wine publication or blogger. That is to say, not at all.