Hermitage and “The Hot Chick”

23Jan09

Someone asked me a great question at a tasting I held last week. I was trying to make the point that nearly everyone has the requisite tools to understand and appreciate wine: a sense of smell, a sense of taste, and a basic level of critical thinking. Plenty of people feel comfortable offering their opinions on movies and books, I said, even if they’re not film experts or book critics. One of the participants, a commercial director, piped up. “But what if I like the wine equivalent of a Rob Schneider movie?”

Excellent point. The goal of my nascent wine education program is to get people more focused on their own palate and what they like, and less preoccupied with specific wines and varietals. I’d rather help someone understand that she likes medium-bodied, food-friendly reds with moderate tannins than lecture her for two hours on terroir and Pinot Noir.  In my experience, that kind of information overload is intimidating for the casual wine drinker. But my friend’s question made me realize that the alternative can be equally scary. Great, help me find out what I like, but what if  I find out I like total crap? What if I have bad taste

I’ve been thinking about this conversation all week, and here’s where I’ve landed: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” or its vinous equivalent, as long as you understand where it falls on quality spectrum, and why. Most of us already have the vocabulary to explain why, for example, “Tootsie” is a better movie than “The Hot Chick.” They’re both about a guy in drag, but “Tootsie” has better writing, better acting, better everything. It’s a completely defensible position to say you know that “The Hot Chick” is, in comparison, a piece of crap, with vastly inferior dialogue, cruder humor, and zero redeeming value – but you still enjoy it. Fine. Similarly, I’m OK if you like  an $8 Australian Shiraz that tastes like fruit soup spiked with brandy, as long as you get that the wine’s lack of balance, subtlety, and complexity put it many, many rungs below a Hermitage. The issue is, a lot of wine drinkers don’t have the vocabulary to articulate those kinds of distinctions. And that’s where I come in.

The other question that’s been plaguing me all week: what would be the wine equivalent of a Rob Schneider movie? Anyone?

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2 Responses to “Hermitage and “The Hot Chick””

  1. 1 prairie rose

    Bartles & James Blue Hawaiian Wine Cooler….either that or Yellow Tail.

  2. 2 sashygirl

    How could I forget B&J — of course! I’m not familiar with the Blue Hawaiian, but sounds pretty remarkable.


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