20 Dec 2013

Why does wine on TV make geeks angry?

The BBC showed a programme last night called The 12 Drinks of Christmas, presented by brothers-in-law Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong. I thought it was quite good.

This is a rare thing, a TV programme about alcohol. Surprisingly so, given how much time and money Brits devote to booze.

But one thing's for certain: every single time wine or beer is in the mainstream media, a backlash from experts and enthusiasts will follow.

Keeping an eye on Twitter as the programme went out, many (but not all) wine people were critical of the show.

Exactly the same thing happens with beer whenever it appears in papers or on TV.

They're talking about Blue Moon and craft beer! the beer people laugh. He said Bollinger is the best you'll get for £35! the coloured trouser wearers scoff. And so on.

(I even saw one comment last night bemoaning the fact beer wasn't covered on 12 Drinks, so you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Though it was a fair comment actually. And interestingly it was suggested beer may've been excluded to avoid conflict with Armstrong's Shepherd Neame advertising deal.)

Why do these shows come in for such criticism? Does it come from a genuine desire for the information to be accurate? Maybe. Or is it a kneejerk response by geeks to separate themselves from the rest; to say I know more than this mainstream show.

I thought The 12 Drinks of Christmas did its job pretty well - it was entertaining enough and there was enough info to get people thinking more about what they taste. Surely this is the important thing for a non-specialist audience: as long as the basic info is accurate, the main point is to entertain, get people into good drinks to begin with, trigger something, and the bigger story can come later if they want it.

As has been said before, you don't have to be serious about something to be serious about something. Maybe sometimes, experts feel threatened by the masses discovering their niche interest, much like an indier-than-thou music geek realising their undiscovered band has gone mainstream.

4 Dec 2013

Campo Viejo Rioja 1976

When you see a star, you're seeing the present and the past at the same time. You're seeing it now but what you also see is how it looked a long time ago.

We uncorked this old wine - the cork gently came apart - and poured it into glinting glasses, that very second smelling aromas from 37 years ago. Beautiful.

The liquid was light red and smelt leafy and herbal, a bit tomatoey, a smell of the earth from all that time ago; like beauty in a star that might already have burst. It tasted mellow and made me think of sage, of cloves and raspberries, and maybe of life and the passing of time.