After one of my routine visits to the Wu-Tang Name Generator (I'm having a hard time accepting Ruff Madman as their final answer), I stumbled upon a website called Phrase Generator. The site focuses on producing random phrases of commonly used words and speech patterns associated with the clichés of politics, finance and wine.
Hah! What a clever way to expose the common practice of using an arbitrary formula as a substitute for real communication! My first click on the Wine Review Generator gave me this:
"Soprano Winery entangles rough espresso undertones and an overtly-sexual cilantro perfume in their 2003 Merlot."
Pretty great, right? At the top of the page, they were good enough to warn me that while this method of wine searching may not be super convenient, if I keep clicking, I will eventually find what I am looking for. Double Hah!
Now, I am but one wine dork. And therefore, have no allusions of eliminating this 'Lazy Anecdote' entirely. Everything has its place, including 'The Descriptor'. It can be a great tool when learning the characteristics of grape varietals, putting together food and wine pairings, or when identifying wines during blind tastings, just to name a few examples.
My beef is focused more so on the feckless practice of reducing an individual wine down to interchangeable lines of exotic fruits and heady adjectives. I start to imagine the wine's soul, kicking and screaming as she is forced into submission under the foot of the heedless writer, blissfully typing away any chance to inspire us.
-Rest in peace, potentially lovely bottle of good times and delicious drink. We hardly knew ye-
Wine has always been the lustful, eternal partner of all that is epic and romantic in this world-poets, gods, artists and of course, mother nature. So why do we allow this nebulous chatter to occupy so much mic time, passively suggesting that the world of wine would even remotely be in danger of having nothing interesting left to say? Something so beautiful, so venerable, so indulgent, mysterious and delicious?
Sure, we can concede that articulating conceptual subjects such as wine--or art, or music, is no easy task. But critics and experts in those neighboring fields still manage to put in the effort-projecting their emotions and prejudices, providing insight through cultural context and storytelling attempted to compel you, or at least, inform you. Let's suppose, in comparison, a friend turns you on to a new artist and you are curious to learn more about their latest album. Off you go with understandable confidence, eager to explore the inter web's infinite library of everything. And yet-the first seven links on your search page offer the same nugget of non-information:
"Bass, drums and male vocals softly entrenched in an array of rhythms and melodies. High notes and low notes embody 52 minutes in length. Best enjoyed by lush, dark furniture and shag carpeting."
Would you find that review relatable, or even understandable? Can you picture your finger slamming on the 'purchase' button so that you may immediately enjoy this discovery for yourself? No matter your response, at least enjoy a hapless giggle knowing that even at this very moment, a wine expert is rubbing one out, slapping a score on it, and serving it up as a 'Review'. The wineries themselves, sadly, are often equally guilty of this public dis-service.
Of course, as with many personal grievances I hold regarding stubborn, outdated and widely uncontested industry standards, 'The Descriptor' is no longer the only show in town. The present day wine leaders have become prevalent and vocal forces, often giving veracious perspectives into the modern world of wine. And so, thankfully, they tend to put 'The Descriptor' in the corner. However-we cannot become complacent! Still far too many wine lovers are subject only to this 'Wasteful Articulation', and therefore, denied their right to discover the extraordinary that lies within the ordinary bottle of wine.
How unnecessarily disappointing wine must seem at times! Countless moments of enthusiasm thwarted by the same 'Checklist of Produce and Spices', re-copied and re-pasted at every click and turn. I can only hope you know that the spark of intrigue you felt was a real sensation-just like tagging an alluring song on the radio, or stopping in front of a beautiful painting. The community has an obligation to connect you and nurture your instincts the rest of the way. I'm confident the wine community will achieve that someday, and if the trend of modern times continues, it will surely happen faster than I could have imagined, but slower than I'd like.
With all of that said, I suppose blaming the wine descriptor for its ubiquity is about as misplaced as blaming Beyoncé for being like-able. Both are notions so widely uncontested, that those who feel disdain for them, hardly see the benefit in raising the point aloud. This shared detail of assured acceptance, allows one to carry on as a delightful pop star while the other is a 'Relentless, Boring Douche Bag of Snoozes and Broken Dreams'.