Wine Truisms

by blog on November 1, 2013

-Weather influences what you drink more than the recommendations of wine commentators or bloggers


-The overuse of technology in winemaking has resulted the exaltation of clinical mediocrity

-Wine journalism tends to focus on the product at the expense of the vineyard or the vigneron except in the cases of those winemakers who are adept at hyping themselves and then it focuses on how good the quality of the marketing is.

-Wine trends are 99% PRspiration and 1% winemaking inspiration

-It is seemingly more important that a project succeeds because of blanket social media coverage than because it is inherently interesting.

-Apparently, it is more important to believe in the product of scientific research than in the product in the bottle and your own sense of taste.

-You can create massive waves in the navel-gazing wine world by being (apparently) controversial for the hell of it.

-Wine is treated by the media as an arcane discipline which is over-complicated and shrouded in pseudo-scientific jargon, the intellectual domaine of a select few. This has resulted in a new kind of wine infantilism, wherein the wine world is made accessible by going to the opposite extreme and dumbing down the issues in favour of “sound gulps”.

-The vast majority of wine in the world is made in factories dedicated to denaturing wine.


-Champagne has coasted on myth and bubble reputation for centuries. Because of this, top quality hand-crafted growers’ champagnes are less appreciated than they should be.

-The power of brands is the result of the human desire to conform and is the ultimate manifestation of our insecurity about wine.

-Virtually all wine surveys are pointless. And patronising.

-The average consumer is both a straw man and a caricature for much of the wine trade.

-The wine trade has managed to concoct a critical mumbo-jumbo which debases the language featuring buzz-words-and-phrases such as gatekeeper, path to market, SKUs, revenue channels, inventory management, UPCs, EANs…Zzzs

-Globalisation has resulted in the exponential growth of social media conferences.

-Much winemaking avails itself of technological tools for the sake of using tools. This often results in pretentious wines as the more you have to use these tools, the less of the original you end up with.

-Enjoyment and pleasure are peculiarly absent from the language of wine criticism.


-Over-analysis of wine leads to emphatic over-banalysis.

-Some critics seem philosophically incapable of understanding the difference between faults and flaws. Flaws are imperfections, the deviations from the norm, the rough surfaces that give individuality to the wines. Flaws are what give us our personalities. Most critics view flaws as faults and thus wine is invariably construed as the sum total of its faults.

-It is better not to make wine than to pollute the environment with chemicals. It is better not to make wine than to sacrifice biodiversity for the sake of profit.

-Wine judging more often than not rewards the lesser of two evils – bland correctness triumphing over problematic interest.

-The bigger the marketing budget, the blander the wine

-The glossier/thicker the brochures, see above

-Romantic photos of sun-kissed grapes, pretty tanned people stomping grapes by foot, and old dusty cellars generally mean the wine has really been made clinically and spent more time in a laboratory than a cellar


-Heavy bottles=small man syndrome

-Expensive barrels= *see above

-Expensive consultant=*see above

-Happy slapping wine: 16% oak monsters that slap you across the face before even touching your lips (see above)

-Wine shows are more for the industry to pat each other on the backs than to truly try and determine the best wine (what IS best anyway?!). The biggest penis always wins.

-Australians have bret-a-phobia, are obsessed with judging wine, revere the winemaker (the viticulturist is still for the most part a separate entity and a lesser being), still deep down want their wines like their morning jam-on-toast, and take wine far more seriously than their laid back personas portray

-The Margaret River is overrated (gasp shock horror!)

-An astonishing number of wines are returned in restaurants and returned from restaurants to suppliers as “corked.” When they are out of condition, they are often oxidised, sulphurous or sporting a variety of faults – but not corked.

-The world of wine might stop turning if there weren’t competitions and comparisons and general lavishing of baubles, bangles and beads. So – Go Compare!

The best vintage
The best grape
The best sparkling wine region
The best palate
The best marking system
The best of the best

Simply, give it a rest

-Mark-ups in restaurants bear zero relation (plus vat and service) to the value of the wine inside the bottle.

-It is more important for bean-counters to make a precise % profit margin on every bottle of wine than to have happy customers who return to an establishment frequently because they can afford to drink there.

-The new wave of boutique wine producers talk a better game than they play.

-Trade mags are seemingly only interested only in:

*The Chinese market

*Record auction prices

*The incessant vanity projects of actors, rap artists, footballers

*Diageo & Pernod Ricard

*Pernod Ricard & Diageo

*Bordeaux, Boredeaux, By Now Totally Boredeaux

*Summits and conferences about either incredibly niche topics or the bleedin’ obvious.

-Wine writers are swift to recant if they find themselves expressing views that contradict the received wisdom.

-Natural wine might not exist as a perceived phenomenon if critics did not fan the embers of controversy.


-The best bottle is the empty bottle – drunk by people who enjoy the taste of wine.

-The worst bottle is the empty bottle – emptied down the sink.

-(The use of) sulphur is not the issue; too much sulphur should always be an issue.

-The vast majority of restaurant wine lists in the UK are incomprehensible, unimaginative, poorly-laid-out and might as well be written in a dead and forgotten language.

-The system of gross profit margins that operate in the UK on-trade is retrograde and penalises people for drinking better wine. It also puts all wines in the same product-for-a-purpose-basket.

-Most back labels on bottles are not worth the paper they are printed on.

-A lot of Argentinean winemakers evidently think that opacity is a sign of quality, oak is a sign of seriousness and alcohol is a sign of virility.

-Many of the wine organisations that came into existence notionally to promote and protect standards end up as tax-and-spend bureaucracies, throttling individuality and stifling diversity.

-The French regional interprofessions are not noted for their imagination nor their sense of humour.

-When dealing with difficult customers and perennially angry or self-important bloggers or tweeters do consult your biodynamic calendar. It may be a “nut day”.

-In the wine trade everyone knows each other’s business more than they know their own. And cherish their own opinions. Refer to Harry Callahan’s (played by Clint Eastwood) aperçu on opinions in The Dead Pool.

-Talking ad nauseam about great (expensive) bottles of wine you have drunk is no different to enumerating your sexual conquests.


-Oak is a container not the main flavouring agent in wine – so many winemakers are still into over-seasoning.

-People who claim that their barrels have a medium toast shouldn’t be allowed near a toaster

-Twenty years ago only French wines displayed terroir and winemakers from other countries rubbished the term as typically Gallic mystical malarkey. Now every country has wines that reflect… er… the region from which they originate.

-Critics have oddly selective palates.

-Food and wine matching is 50% common sense and 50% uncommon nonsense.

-Marketing your wine on the basis of its unique terroir is tautological. All terroir is surely unique; some terroir is simply better for vine-growing than others.

-Wine bloggers spend an inordinate amount of time praising other wine bloggers on social media in the hope that they will return the favour.

-Skin contact wine is not weird or revolutionary. All red wine is the result of skin contact.

-Ordering wine in expensive restaurants is playing Russian Roulette with your bank account.

-In the Loire Vin de France is a badge of honour.

-Simplicity and complexity are not mutually exclusive qualities for a wine to possess.

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