Wine Fraud: critics, crowd-sourcing, comparison

May 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

Last week in the Portland Press Herald, I went polemical. Halfway through my column, I wrote:

Do not make comparisons. Do not grade anything. Do not assess movies. Do not compare children. Do not evaluate romantic conversations. Do not appraise sunsets. Do not organize your thoughts. Do not classify wines. Do not spend time with people who do any of those things.

The only salient criterion for wine is whether it’s true or false.

Like anything else, wine is either real or representation. That it’s so hard for us to discern the difference speaks only to our cultural confusion, our substitution of advertising for communication.

The signposts of our cultural decline (decried by name in the column, and I’m pretty sure on every other non-porn page on the Internet) are everywhere, and they’re so permeating and nigh-intractable that ya gotta start small. I’m going to start (and stay?) with wine. Maybe that will give me the armor to prepare for the larger war…

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§ One Response to Wine Fraud: critics, crowd-sourcing, comparison

  • Peter Walch says:


    Great column. Let me share a relevant (I think) visual experience. I’m a card-carrying art historian. A few years back, the Portland Museum of Art had a handful of paintings on loan from the Currier Museum (in Manchester NH, then undergoing renovations), Included, a c. 1960 painting by Joan Mitchell. What a knockoput! Every time I visited it, it always amazed me. Then I found myself in Manchester after it had been returned, and I eagerly sought it out on its “native” walls. Flat. Dull. Uninspired. Was I wrong to love it at the PMA and be so disappointed in Manchester? I think not. Art, like wine, is fragile, and so much affected by context. In Portland, up on the third floor where it was installed, it had a lkot of natural light. In Manchester, totally artificial lighting. Which just about killed it.

    Same, I think, wuith wine. Needs the right set of food, mood, and sometimes serendipity to thrive. And, of course, something approaching genius on the part of the winemaker/painter to free the pure wonderfulness of great juice/oil paint to sing forth.

    Anyway, thanks again for all (well, many) of your columns. Rant on!

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