The biggest fib in the wine industry: “there is no such thing as good or bad wine, it only matters whether you like it.” It’s a fib not because it’s a false statement, but because the people saying it often don’t quite believe it. Conscious or not, the underlying message of a statement like this is that the person to whom it is being said is clearly too innocent of what good wine actually is for the speaker to be bothered debating the topic with them.
As a non wine-obsessed consumer, one could be forgiven for thinking that the wine industry doesn’t have a lot of compassion for its customers. For example, a question as basic as what the name of a wine actually means has no consistent answer. In some areas of the world (mainly in the so-called old world, aka Europe) wine is named after the place it is from, as in Bordeaux, Burgundy or Barolo. Others (usually from the new world) trade under the name of their principal grape, like Shiraz or Chardonnay.
Before any parents reading this start composing sternly-worded letters objecting to this article’s subject matter, this isn’t an article peddling wine to fifteen year-olds. “Millennial” is a poorly defined demographic, sometimes described as those born post-millennium, but according to our ultimate millennial resource, Google, it is “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000.”
It’s a rare person in the wine world or any other who can make the statement Bruce Tyrrell makes about Hunter Valley Semillon, which he calls “our gift to the world.” While to some that may sound too close to “God’s gift to the world,” for Bruce it’s simply an honest statement of what it means to carry the torch for a classic wine style that’s deliciously unique, yet doesn’t quite resonate with consumers.
Anyone reading the paper lately can be left in no doubt that questions of who or what holds power are on everyone’s mind. In the realm of politics, it is hard for us to come to agreement, but the little world of wine tends to favor a more decentralized power. As wine consumers, we have come to prize above all things an essential “somewhereness” in wine (to dispense with the inescapably French term “terroir”), a term originally borrowed from politics.