Robust versus restrained. Rich versus light. F&W’s Ray Isle explores the wine world’s most fractious debate and explains why it actually matters.
The land of wine used to be a peaceful place. At least, that was the image: all quiet cellars and bottles aging to perfection, and if there were disagreements, well, sir, they were gentlemanly. Frowsy old fellows in half-frame glasses debating whether the ’73s were really quite so awful, or perhaps not.
Lately, though, wine seems to have entered a knives-out phase. The disputes, particularly online, have featured name- calling (“coward,” “charlatan” and “jihadist” are a few examples), as well as a strangely violent absolutism that seems more appropriate to political talk shows than anything to do with wine. It’s a weird and lamentable state of affairs, as others have noted. But I think it’s also telling.