For some months now the specialised wine press has talked of little else. Whether it is an article entitled “How to Talk About Wine in Seven Crucial Words” about the latest book by Matt Kramer, Contributing Editor of the American magazine Wine Spectator, or articles like that in the New Yorker which asks the question: “Is there a better way to talk about wine?” or this week’s Andrew Jefford column in Decanter: “Tasting notes – the shame of the wine world” the same theme runs through them all – how to talk about wine in more accessible, simpler and less energetic terms. In other words, how can we render wine commentary more interesting, pleasanter and easier for beginners to read? How can we make it more poetic so that we forget the hyper-specialist’s prose whose commentaries, at the end of the day, are sometimes so complex and abstract no-one can understand them.
In the women’s press around the world the fashion everywhere is for slow food, slow sex and a slow life. Time to take the time to live, to enjoy the moment, to rediscover the idea of pleasure and take the time to savour it. In the wine world, voices are being raised too and they are all in agreement that we need to get back to simplicity with straightforward, concrete remarks. If we did, we would reach a wider and wider audience and better convey what pleased us about a wine, what surprised us, won us over and made us vibrate. While some talk of simplifying the terms used to make reviews more accessible (like Matt Kramer’s famous seven words – insight, harmony, textures, layers, finesse, surprise and nuance – which he says should systematically be used to describe a wine), others talk of literary talent and poetry. So between simplifying the vocabulary and adopting a more poetic approach, the main idea would seem to be to get back to the idea of the pleasure to be found within wine.
Pleasure, sharing, conviviality come before performance and the perfect score. But why now this rallying cry of “Enough with performance, long live pleasure!”? Because the wine world is changing. When, at the end of 2013, Jon Bonné published his excellent book “The New California Wine“, some of my friends in the United States were wary of this new approach to wine. And yet in Australia, France, Spain and Italy, everywhere the same cry is going up: Down with boredom! Aside from the fact people are fed up with body-builder wines we heard praised so highly and whose “incredible ageing potential” has turned out to be a disappointment – that was the first step on the march to change – here we are in a new era where it is not the wine itself that is going to change but the way we talk about it. “You don’t need to be a gynaecologist to make love,” Michel Chapoutier used to say. Nor do you need to be an oenologist to appreciate wine. Wine = Sex: Enough with performance, long live pleasure!
(*Since 2003, Guillaume Jourdan has been advising more than 200 prestigious wine estates for their international marketing & communication strategy incl. Chapoutier, Hugel, Dr Loosen, Famille Perrin, Cos d’Estournel, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s Miraval…