Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Okay, okay, I'm awake!

Well, now I am awakened. My last entry received more responses than all my earlier blog entries-some responses online, and some via email.

Generally, I have been supported, yet mildly taken to task for being cynical and giving up. An email I received this morning from another Finger Lakes-based writer made a good point about my cynicism, not to mention the relative difficulty in posting a comment on the Worpress version of Vinofictions, as opposed to the ease of doing so on Blogspot.

Unfortunately, the Wordpress version is more prone to spammers, and I am a simple writer. I don’t want to spend my time fending off spammers and various forms of sludge. Hell, I don’t even want to take the time to look into the stats to find out how many and who is reading this blog. I just want to write. So, I take the easy route. Maybe I should shut down the Wordpress version—maybe I will.

I’ve decided not to quit, but I will have to scale back my entries for the summer. My wife and I are erecting a greenhouse plus, we have various guests coming from the world over throughout the season.

For now, let me say a few words about why I made the previous entry. Primarily, it was because of the wine forum Websites. I read them in the hope of gaining information and to keep up with events, but I generally am sick of most of them. Not only are the conversations circuitous and repetitive, they are often abrasive and obsessive. But what truly gets to me about them is that the majority of their habituates seem comfortable with their myths—impervious to greeting a fact and shaking its hand.

My other problem: too many people don’t seem willing to take their own initiative, to go out and explore wine for themselves. They need one or two critical palates to guide them. Being a general “do it my way” kind of guy, I admit to finding the lemming trait offensive. But I do understand the argument that there is so much wine out there it is impossible for any one person to find them all.

I understand that argument, but I don’t buy it. In the immortal words of Dick Cheney: so what?

Once you realize that there isn’t enough time in your life to drink them all, it doesn’t mean you need to let someone else direct you to the wines, and it certainly does nothing to change your tastes, provided you are willing to trust your own taste and not the taste of the self-anointed.

Then there’s the argument that “I have only so much money, I don’t want to waste it on buying wines I may not like.”

First, a review and a high rating maybe helps, but it's no guarantee. I've never thought that I need anyone else's palate to guide mine, and I don't believe anyone else does. Anyway, consuming wine is a matter of personal taste.

Second, so much that we spend our money on comes with risk. As an example, take the Maytag dishwasher that I am throwing out the window this week.

Remember those TV commercials with Jesse White playing a Maytag repairman who sits alone most of his life because the units don’t need much service?

I stupidly bought into the Maytag reputation (not realizing that the company was sold to Whirlpool). I might as well have taken the $500 I spent on that dishwasher and lit it in the fireplace—that way I would have gotten something for my money. In other words, I took the easy path, didn’t do my own homework, bought from reputation and suggestions. What I got didn’t work (in less than four years, I had to replace the control panel three times!).

Buying anything comes with risk. High ratings and high praise do not negate that risk. In fact, if you look at it another way, they probably increase the risk by creating complacency, a sense of false security.

Sure, we’ll never get to taste every wine in the world, but we can have fun finding them on our own and trying as many as we can. In fact, sticking to one style or one place creates a stagnant taste preference. What fun is that?

I believe that with all the wines available to us, obsessing over the possibility of missing one of them means needing help, but not in wine buying…

Thanks to all who slapped me a little. You made me realize that there is an audience for my ramblings, and even if it is a small audience, it’s a fine one.

PS: To Tom Wark I have a suggestion (and to anyone else interested). Maynard Amerine once wrote a beautiful essay concerning wine quality: how to evaluate it and why it can and should be done. Try to get your hands on a copy of it. Look up Wayward Tendrils, a California organization of wine book collectors. Someone there might be able to help you find the essay, which Tendrils covers in its latest quarterly.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
May 2008. All rights reserved.


  1. Thomas, and what are those myths you refer to in problem 1? Is that too much content to discuss in one entry?

  2. Javier,

    There are many. One of the reasons I started the blog was to dispel myths.

    If you go through past entries, you'll locate a few of them.

    One myth that refuses to die: sulfites are the cause of the wine headache.

    Another myth that seems to have good legs: wine criticism is objective.

    And the myth that dry wines lack sugar. Would that life were so simple as that.

  3. That's why Maytag advertised so much. Sorry that you bought into it. Anyway, glad you are just scaling back.

  4. Thomas,

    Myths 1 and 3 can be fun to live with, unless debaters present their views as the only truth. Misconceptions are just that. Now when it comes to presenting wine criticism as an objective matter (and the truth!), then that turns me off. Also it's not fun when critics trash the wines they don't like. There are lots of people drinking and enjoying them on the other side.

  5. T. Pellechia: "But what truly gets to me about them is that the majority of their habituates seem comfortable with their myths—impervious to greeting a fact and shaking its hand."

    H.L. Mencken: "No normal human being wants to hear the truth. It is the passion of a small aberrant minority of men, most of them pathological. They are hated for telling it while they live, and when they die they are swiftly forgotten."

  6. Ah, to be known as pathological is probably a modern badge...

    HL Mencken also said something along the lines of: No one ever went broke under-estimating the intelligence of the American public.

  7. "just when i thought i was out, they pulled me back in" or soemthing like that

  8. Thomas,


    Maynard Amerine once wrote a beautiful essay concerning wine quality: how to evaluate it and why it can and should be done.

    What a great book...nothing comes close to it... good luck on the summer project too...your perspective is fresh and alive...can't think of one article you wrote I have not liked, or that has made me thin in a new direction...Cheers !!!

    John Z