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  Editorial Issue 120, Summer 2013   
Fame, Fortune and Merits of WinesFame, Fortune and Merits of Wines  Contents 
Issue 119, June 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 121, September 2013

Fame, Fortune and Merits of Wines


 When I founded DiWineTaste, an idea I had for the first time in 2000 and took form in 2002, I already had my personal ideas on wine and a strong belief: in this matter, just like today, I had a lot to learn. Today, it is likely I have a better awareness than thirteen years ago, I had the chance to understand something more about wine, however I still believe it certainly is an endless subject. In 2000 it was already some years I was working in the world of wine, better to say, of enogastronomy, as a consultant. I also had a particular interest, like today, for physiology of senses - a matter I started studying many years before during my researches and studies on tea - as well as tasting techniques, also in this case “discovered” thanks to tea. I was continuously trying to learn new things by reading publications and books - and this is something I still do, books in particular - including the so called wine guides, at those times certainly being more influential than today.


 

 I was not however dependent on this type of publications, I bought many of them in the past, some of them were given to me by my clients, and my opinion about wine was, at that time as today, strongly based on what I was pouring in my very personal glass. Also for educational purposes and for improving my culture, sometimes I bought, alone or with my friends, those wines that - according to the opinion of wine guide “experts” - were representing the top of Olympus of Italian and worldwide enology. Those bottles, according to the occasion and circumstance, were tasted uncovered in case of the evaluation of single wine, strictly blind tasted in case of two or more bottles. I have always believed in the educational value of blind tasting: I consider tasting a wine by knowing it in advance as a simple practice of cognitive drinking, although I admit it can however give critical and analytical elements, although highly biased, therefore not truly reliable and trustworthy, of lower educational value.

 Sometimes those wines were amazing, sometimes - I would say, frequently - they were quite disappointing, in particular when their quality was compared to the price paid for that bottle. In these cases - I admit - I always ended up with the same conclusions: my experience, knowledge and skill were not enough in order to understand the “magnificence” of that wine, or my personal taste was not satisfied in what I poured in my glass, or the reason was “something else”. I was also sharing with other wine lovers my opinion about those wines which I certainly considered good but not excellent and with some minor faults making them not impeccable. Sometimes they agreed with me and they too believed those wines were not excellent. It is also true there were others who considered those wines examples of magnificence, impeccable about everything. If it was true I had doubts, there were others, wine lovers like me, who were passionately supporting those wines. Everyone has his or her own taste and preferences - there is no doubts about this - and however the definition of good is also the result of subjective considerations.

 The world of wine, just like many other “worlds”, is also made of words that frequently end up becoming an indisputable rule and few dare to deny, in particular - and not only - to avoid the risk of being considered incompetent. In the world of wine, where everyone is an authoritative expert - in the same measure everyone is obviously a competent soccer coach - and to be considered inexpert is such a horrible shame that could make everyone depressed. As soon as there are rumors about the quality of wine or a producer making high quality wines, the rumor becomes a rule as well as a subject to be used, also out of vanity, with friends and other experts. On this regard, I remember about a fact when I was talking, about fifteen years ago, to a person who qualified himself as wine expert. We were talking about wines, in particular about a celebrated Italian wine and this gentleman seemed to know very well, giving the idea it was a wine, lucky him, he had the pleasure to have often.

 He was telling about this wine by using a pompous praise but never mentioning any detail, and it was quite difficult to understand what he really found in that wine and why - from a sensorial and enological point of view - it was of such high and indisputable quality. To clear any doubt, this wine was - and still is - a magnificent wine, one of those great wines of Italian enology and famous worldwide, a truly deserved fame proven by facts. This gentleman was very anxious in appearing like an expert, it seemed he was used to have great wines every day, despite I had many doubts he was talking about something he did not know at all. At the end of his almost endless lectio magistralis, I asked him whether he ever had that wine. His answer was quite singular and disheartening as well: he admitted he never had that wine but a fried of him - an expert, of course - told him this wine was excellent because in wine guides it received the highest score. Sic transit gloria mundi. (Thus passes the glory of the world).

 The world of wine is also made of fashion and trends, supported and loved by many experts and wine lovers, both because it is convenient - it is always exciting to be on the winner's side - as well as because you have to. It is hard to deny that: blamed of being incompetent and put out of the group of leaders would be unseemly. Wines sometimes build their fame, fortune and merits thanks to facts like these, they become well known and their fame is continuously spreading as to become undeniable. After all, in case everyone is saying a wine is good, to tell the opposite becomes counterproductive and not credible. It should also be said, clearly, there are wines which truly deserve their fame and the merits they have, something having no direct connection with fortune or trends of the moment. There are many wines like that both in Italy and in the world, however it is also true there are many wines not deserving the fame they have, in particular by considering facts. Of course, de gustibus non est disputandum, although there is a limit on this too, in particular when facts are based on futile reasons and the lack of concrete and objective factors. Real merits stay forever because they are based on real facts ensuring them a long life. Frivolous things are destined to vanish with the introduction of a new and easy illusion, leaving behind rubbles no one will ever remember.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 120, Summer 2013   
Fame, Fortune and Merits of WinesFame, Fortune and Merits of Wines  Contents 
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