Tuesday, August 25, 2009
What we talk about when we talk about wine
In a week, a wine board I like to participate on will celebrate its first birthday. Realizing this, and thinking back over the many online conversations I have had, spanning from Tahiti to Burgundy, by way of Mount Etna, Rioja and Cornas, I thought it was an apposite moment to bring up the topic of why it's so important to have these venues for conversation, banter and arguments.
Knowledge and taste are such slippery, ever-changing things; our palates and opinions evolve, inevitably. And one great spur to their evolution is, along with the simple tasting and drinking of wines, discussing them with people who have a similar fervency, people who are informed, ask questions and spout thoughts.
What I have found fascinating in the eclectic, angry, roving, uncommon group of oenophiles on the Wine Disorder board is the challenge of it. In order to join in the fray, to confront a conflicting or ill-formed opinion, one's own opinion needs to be clear, expressible, and thought-through. Even to chip in with related commentary requires a cataloguing and systematizing act of the brain. Someone will call you out – and that's part of the fun.
This I love. I also enjoy the play with the rigor, the allusiveness, the humor, the extraneous, geeky nonsense. Because ponderousness is a bad old saw in the wine world, I like that I can flee preconceived notions and skip off to a playground for sharp winos.
My palate has changed and evolved over the past year, and this is in part due to the questions other oenophiles have put to my set of prejudices (which I also try to assail here, but in a less back-and-forth way). I would never, too, have thought to drink Overnoy Poulsard, say, or Clos Roche Blanche Pineau d'Aunis, or orange wines without the steady tide of fresh thoughts and tastings provided by that group.
Which is why I have decided to toast Wine Disorder with a nice glass of leesy chardonnay.