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New Year, Same Vibe
How as the first week of 2022?
Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday, whatever, I’m broadly moving the newsletter to Monday, rather than Sunday. I’m still adjusting to the new year, my bin collection day is still hugely out of sync too, which is more worrying that an email, so I’m not gonna dwell on it.
New Year New Vibe
Not really. My Master of Wine seminar in Austria got cancelled, and on Sunday I was supposed to get on a flight to the Weinakademie Osterreich, in a town called Rust.
I didn’t get on that plane, the seminar has been rescheduled until “March/April” by the institute and I’m back to self study, planning and prep at home. I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough, and then I scroll through twitter listening to people who know better than me talk eloquently about things I’ve never heard of, and I call myself a Master of Wine Student.
On a Lighter Note
I had a walloping Christmas drinking fun booze, doing some study and generally chilling out. Did some incredibly difficult puzzles, drank some incredibly tasty wine.
Decoding the Why
Do you know why you like what you do? Or do you think you do?
I’ve been pondering what people think they like compared to what they actually like. I’m not talking about people who do actually know what they like*, but casual wine drinkers, without a care in the world for understanding the soil types, or grape varieties, or regions, or any actual consistency.
More often than you’d think, I’d hear things that, to me, just don’t make logical sense. For example, people often tell me that they enjoy a “full bodied wine, like a good Barolo, or a Chateauneuf du Pape”. Now, I wouldn’t put one of those wines in the ‘full bodied’** category, and I certainly would’t consider them similar in style.
To put that in context, it’s akin to telling a guitarist “I love heavy music, like Slipknot or Coldplay”. Yes, you might like both of those bands, but the descriptor ‘heavy’ doesn’t really apply to one of them.
Language, Knowledge or Innocence?
The debate on whether everyone else is wrong or not is a moot point. It doesn’t matter. Trying to decode a preference from a description peppered with gaps is like trying to figure out the whodunnit without knowing the whathappen.
Theories go, that people generally revert to their comfort zone when trying to talk about wine. If I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, I’d wear Toms** all the time. I would consider myself an advocate for knowing what you like without worrying about the why. I’ll tie myself in knots trying to decode the why, when it’s a completely abstract concept though.
I genuinely think people try to get it right, but don’t have the lexicon on the tips of their tongues, and fundamentally that’s the fault of the wine industry.
It’s not a case of people not knowing what they like, I think most people do, but the style of wine they like can be made in just about any wine producing region in the world.
It also got mentioned to me that there’s the potential that people are out to impress. Worrying that a lack of knowledge gets hideously shown up through an inability to express an actual preference. The default option here, again would be to plump for the obvious, without context.
Wine types, thoroughly educated in traditional wines with a sense of place, when the wines that people love aren’t linked to place at all. Customers have a better sense of style.
Anecdotally, I find this all much more of a muddle with red wine.
I tasted a delicious, hearty, rich Malbec with group who explicitly said they liked ‘Big Malbec’ and they didn’t like it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Later in the evening they opened a different, big brand, confected, jammy, overblown style of medium bodied Malbec they’d brought with them that they loved.
In truth, it’s obvious that people don’t know what they like when the options aren’t in sync with the way they think. Imagine getting up to sing Karaoke with the wrong words on the screen. You might get the melody right, but it still wouldn’t make any sense.
Keen to hear your thoughts on this one!
* Wine Types, like me
*** Link to Toms Shoes
The full thread and conversation on Twitter that sparked this email:
Wedding advice: @dnkrbywine on Twitter.
Shumana from Ultracomida donated £100 to my GoFund Me… go check out their shop.