My current obsession with Marvel's Civil War has inspired me to re-read Kavalier & Klay (one of my favorites, a familiar world to revisit while Iâm feeling a bit out to sea). The combined effect of the comics and the novel has been a constant frame by frame outlook on life, seeing parallels to super-heroes everywhere. I even went to so far as to compare my outlook on wine to Wolverine last week â which is ridiculous, since Iâm not Canadian (just wish I was).
I've been thinking about writing something about scores - a second installment of my Civil War tie-in. After a freak accident where well meaning wine critic Josh Raynolds applied scores to some innocent Muscadet... It's easy to cast the part of Iron Man, but Captain America is a bit problematic.
Perhaps it's Kermit Lynch, pioneer of supporting the little guys, and hero for bringing the wines of Marcel Lapierre to the states. Or maybe it's an enigmatic figure called The Importer - defender of "Real Wine." At the moment, I think it's probably Wine Therapy's SFJoe.
Recent exchanges between Joe (who in the interest of full disclosure is a friend of mine) and some tool from the Wine Spectator (clearly Maria Hill, director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) on the blogs of Eric Asimov and Lyle Fass, draw the battle lines. Joe and his group of rebels are fighting for individual choice and a variety of expression. The pro number camp is looking for accountability and a subjective standard for the public.
Just like Civil War, both sides make logical points, and in reality neither is wrong (nor entirely right). My friend Jeff and I had an exchange this week where he pointed out that people - lots of people - want scores. They want a hard and fast statistic that can help them make sense of a vast and often impenetrable subject.
This says a lot about the state of our society. Folks would rather place their trust in and impersonal, commercially motivated publication, than develop a one on one relationship with a real person in their local wine shop. Granted the retailer is commercially motivated - but the motivation is to make each individual customer want to return, the publication is trying to appeal to a demographic "readership" of the lowest common denominator in order to sell ad revenue. As Jeff says, like it or not - that's the world we live in.
So, just as Iron Man points out to Cap that the world isn't like it was in the 40's (he is such a dick), we see how the wine world has changed. It's dependent on a new set of standards, a new ideal - the number.
I still think the fight's worth fighting. I think it's possible to open people's minds and gain their trust. I understand that there are always going to be people who need the reassurance of that number, but I also know that the only way to get away from that point of view is to show people that there's another way.
Perhaps that's my job. I'd like to think that I'm like Spiderman - working within the pro-number forces but questioning, until one day (hopefully soon) I'll leave to join the underground. In truth, I'm just a guy, a guy who's passionate about wine and wants to share my philosophy with whoever will listen.