The Argumentalists

“I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.”
–Oscar Wilde

les caves de pyrene

There are various classes of people who emerge from the wormy woodwork when the subject of natural wine is broached to venture their tuppence ha’pworth. Sometimes the debate is generous, healthy and provocative in the best sense, sometimes it is just a bunch of egos basting themselves in their own self-perceived cleverness. These diverse wranglers might be divided into the following categories:

Les Bigotes–The arrogance of those who take undue offence at something that threatens their cosy view of the world and whose faces and voices are frozen in perpetual contumely. This is called the principle of contempt prior to investigation. They write things like “the public is being hoodwinked” and use overwrought terms like “fascism” willy-nilly, as if natural wine were a political movement practising mind-control on unsuspecting old Bordeaux drinkers. Or something.

les caves de pyrene

The Manicheans – who propose a duality of epicurean truth and believe that supporters of natural wine are profoundly in the darkness.

The Devil’s Advocates – like to construct theories or build reputations for the hell of it and then knock them down, creating zeroes to heroes then sending them back to zeroes. This doublethink allows them to switch horses in mid-stream and never take a position that they have to defend in earnest.

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.”

The Pseudo-scientists – who will use science as an alibi for making dangerously unscientific assertions. They believe that because something has not been proved, it must, ipso facto, be false. Pseudo-scientists create “straw man” arguments, misrepresenting the viewpoints or intentions of those they disagree with, thinking that a one-sided argument is, per se, a rational argument and, so doing, are inevitably hoist on their own petar’.

The Scientists – who reduce everything to a test-tube, a petrie dish and a justifying absolutism. There is more in heaven and earth…

les caves de pyrene

The Recanters – former advocates of one position they repenteth profoundly and become archbishops of the opposite point of view. In the natural wine debate we have seen how some row back from the extreme edge, but also how conventional winemakers can move in the other direction.

Gentle snidies – who write a seemingly balanced article on a subject but leave you in no doubt (reading between the lines) that they harbour negative feelings towards natural wines.

The Wibbly-Wobblies – these are exanimate people whose opinions change according to whim and the breeze of critical opinion.

The Supporters – the majority who drink and enjoy natural wine, go to the festivals, bars and caves–a–vins, but are not blind to faulty examples and bad winemaking. Most of the people, however, on the other side of the debate still think they are mildly/very (delete as appropriate) unhinged.

The Smell-no-evils – a rare breed who, when they are tasting, implicitly believe that all is for the best in the best possible world and that all natural wines are always wonderful in any circumstance.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Very interesting classification of the local fauna out there! 🙂 We need to get a taxonomist onto this and see if we can construct an entire tree-of-life of the natural wine world! I think we have the predators well covered, but what about the prey? 🙂

    I believe that you may have missed out an entire genus of predator, which could be called “The Language Mavens”. For a fairly well developed theory and justification of the existence of these specimens, see these old posts of mine here:
    and here:
    The Language Mavens (fascinating creatures) would have us believe, amongst other things, that adjectives in the English language can have one and only one meaning, while Mirriam-Webster and the OED dictionaries provide at least 15 different meanings of the word ‘natural’! If only I had the time, I would study their habits and beliefs in more depth 🙂

  2. doug

    Spot on, Fabio.

    The wine world has the greatest density (I mean that word in every sense) of linguistic analysers, semioticians and verbal colonists of any profession. And the word “natural” is the ultimate verbal hand grenade in this world.

Leave a Reply