I just finished reading The Wine Trials 2010 by Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch. I must confess I’m very perplexed by this book. The authors blame the “lifestyle marketing” for overpriced wines. They also condemn the fact that a group like LVMH invest more money on marketing than to produce the goods, without mentioning that this marketing strategy covers all products manufactured by LVMH and not only their wine and spirits business. Because they reject marketing (they call it the “enemy” of the wine drinker) and the “taste of money”, they promote wines widely available in supermarkets and under $15. But, among the 150 selected wines, there are Two Buck Chuck, Norton, Almaden, Barefoot wines, to mention just a few. Do the authors sincerely think those wines are so widely available without heavy marketing and a lot of money? This selection by two main criteria – under $15 and widely available in supermarkets – is counterproductive for the wine industry. Wine drinkers and consumers need wines under $15 but original and well crafted. There are so many of them all over the world. It’s true it requires a little effort on the part of the consumers but it is well worth it. The Web 2.0 provides tools to look for, find and now locate affordable and not so easy-to-find wines.
All the selection of wines is based on blind tasting. I won’t make any comment on this choice: I’m not an enologist or a wine critic and have no opinion on the subject worth of mention. When they say blind tasting gets the truth out of a wine, I’m a little skeptical: why is it right to prefer a $15 cava over a $150 Dom Perignon and wrong to like a Dom Perignon? It’s just a matter of taste and education. I’m the last one to condemn somebody who likes a $3 Two Buck Chuck. As I already wrote, a wine is like a book: some people like reading detective stories or chick lit and others poetry or essays. There’s nothing wrong with it. But don’t tell me it is “un-American” to drink expensive wines because of their marketing strategy!
The Wine Trials 2010 is also very critic of wine critics and established magazines, such as The Wine Spectator. Critics of critics have been going on for many years. One of the answers provided by the Web 2.0 is the peer-to-peer recommendation system. Consumers have now a huge array of information through social media, forums, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter. They can access this information instantly on their phone or through Internet.
Did I dislike this book? Not really. While reading it, I went from smiling to raising a perplexed eyebrow or being mildly offended. This said, I respect the effort behind the work: it is certainly very hard to carry such a tasting, even if I have a lot of reservations about the result. I also respect the thinking behind the work. Goldstein’s introductory chapters are worth reading thoroughly. As he says all along his book, the reader has to make up his/her own mind on the ideas and principles behind the book as well as on wine. Maybe the authors and I have to agree we disagree!