There’s an old joke in the wine world and it goes like this:
What’s the difference between God and a winemaker? God doesn’t think he’s a winemaker.
Corny yes, but vaguely indicative of some winemakers overblown sense of themselves. Although they may doing holy work, winemakers are indeed fallible and prone to gaffes, just like the rest of us.
As a wine writer and blogger, I see a lot of annoying things that winemakers do (and don’t do) and I just have to vent.
Here are the top five.
At every wine tasting there is a winemaker who simply can’t keep pouring while running his mouth. You see him “engaging” with one person for the longest time to the complete exclusion of every other taster that comes along.
They talk loud enough to draw you in while simultaneously leaving you out, as if they are riding a train of thought they can’t get off.
No amount of eye contact or arm extensions catch their attention, so you end up standing there, looking stupid with your glass held out, wondering if hanging around this table is worth your time, and sometimes deciding no before walking away.
Then there are the winemakers who don’t take the time to comment on a blog post written about them, even though you know they have Google Alerts set on themselves. Because who doesn’t Google Alert themselves these days?
Bloggers live for comments and a quick, “Hey, thanks for reviewing my wine,” or even “Get a palate, loser,” can be a big boost to their day, and may even prompt a follow-up post. What’s more annoying is knowing the winemaker is losing a marketing opportunity by not engaging online, even to RT a tweet .
He or she won’t shut up at a tasting table, but cannot speak up online.
Following their antipathy toward bloggers, here’s a sure sign the winemaker (or winery) couldn’t care less if you wrote about them: no media discount.
Sure, not every wine writer or blogger bothers to write about those discounted bottles, but the good will inspired by a discount makes them more inclined to scratch a little post. And for wineries that can’t afford to pay a PR person, one well-written post is worth the piddling discount they give a writer. To a wine writer, bottle discounts are priceless.
The wine has no varietal designation on its label but it does have a funny name. It must be a blend because it tastes unidentifiable as a single varietal. Turn to the back label, hold a magnifying glass to the words, you see that all it offers is a vague description of the flavors and a food pairing suggestion.
But what the hell is in this wine? Wine geeks want to know. We’re not talking about state secrets here. We shouldn’t have to wait for Wikileaks to tell us if this a cabernet mixed with petit verdot. Why the secrecy, winemakers? Just put the blend details on the label and cut the coyness already.
We live in a modern world where the printed page is obsolete, smart phones are sometimes used for calls, and Apple is not just a fruit.
So why are winemakers still using corks as bottle enclosures? Following the use of rags and sealing wax, corks were the hot new thing four hundred years ago when bottlenecks started being uniform in size.
But guess what? Technology has made the screwtop superior to the humble cork for two reasons: speed and ease of opening as well as elimination of spoilage. Since screw-topped wines are never “corked,” compared with around 1% of cork-topped bottles, you’d think a winemaker has got to be crazy to keep using cork. Plus, no one ever got carpal tunnel syndrome twisting off a screwtop.
And yet, on the other hand, if these are the most annoying things winemakers do, then maybe they’re not so bad after all. The annoying things winemakers do are overwhelmingly outweighed by the satisfying things, like making great wine and selling it to us.
Where would be be without that?
But enough about my pet peeves. What do you think are the most annoying/satisfying things winemakers do?