My Wine and Beer Philosophy
I figured my first post should impart a basic sense of where I’m coming from and how I go about evaluating things like wine and beer.
I’m a law student here in BC (hence the bad pun in naming this blog) and I basically love wine and beer. My passion for these delights developed over the years, but really started getting intense after taking a trip to the US a few years ago for a conference only to come home with a Shafer Merlot and a Duckhorn Merlot, both from Napa Valley. I had never had anything that came close to the quality of these wines and it really set my already fledgling passion into full throttle. Now my appetite is only restricted by my budget :).
What I really love about wine is the combination of visceral and intellectual experiences. I find beer a little less intellectual, but a lot of fun. I also love the ‘madeness’ of good beer and wine; I’m not talking about the mass produced stuff, but the basic principle that a wine or a beer is an expression of the individual(s) who made it, crafted it. Now, I know there are purists in wine who believe in the territoriality of wine – its epxression of the specific characteristics of terroir. However, for me this only really comes to life when I visit the vineyards themselves. It is only then that I feel I truly understand the ideas of soil, rock and minerals. While this greatly enhances the experience of drinking these beverages, one is usually confined to drinking bottles from far away places. This has its own pleasure, and I think it is the imaginative experience that rounds out the whole package nicely. It’s always great to read about a region and look at maps when drinking a particularly fantastic bottle. On the other hand, it’s also great to just sip and enjoy.
The final peg to my philosophy is that pretentiousness ruins the experience. However, the question remains: what do I mean by pretentiousness? Essentially I am talking about the posturing and inevitable ‘class’ dimension to wine (beer far less so, although ‘fancy’ beer runs into this problem too). American commercialism, as brought forth by the likes of Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator, is really, despite what they think, only another form of pretentiousness. That said, commercial wine reviewers still pick good bottles. So basically I try to run a middle path – mitigate both the elitism of the upper class association with wine and the massification of commercialism (the idea that one human’s taste can dictate the price of a bottle). In the end I try to come out with something personal and meaningful. Cheers!
As a final note, here is my basic rating scale: