I spend a lot of time around other people in the wine industry. I like to hear the things they say - how they perceive the wines they taste, how they connect with wines, interesting wine facts, pairings they’ve tried, sometimes things I’ve never considered, etc. But the thing I listen to the most is their wine philosophy, because I’m a firm believer that if you spend enough time experiencing wine, you start to develop a wine philosophy.
One of my favorite things that I’ve heard is this: You either like it or you don’t, and that’s what matters most.
Simple, isn’t it? It may seem like over-simplifying it, but in the end, it really is what matters. I’m not saying that I won’t cringe if I see someone order a dish and a wine together and the pairing is completely off, and I’ll definitely cringe if someone insists on drinking the same thing over and over particularly when it’s clearly not good quality. But with wine, everyone’s palate and preferences are different, and it’s up to the wine drinker to determine what he/she likes.
Here’s where I get annoyed. It would be foolish and idealistic of me to expect everyone in this industry or any industry to be completely unbiased. Everyone has a soft spot for something, and tends to encourage others to feel the same way. But when I read or hear things that are very obviously biased, pretty much instructing wine drinkers to feel a particular way and even to the point of trying to influence others in the wine industry to embrace the same bias - well that’s something I have very little patience for.
I think a lot of people realize that oftentimes (not always, of course), the producers that pay the most for advertising in a publication tend to receive the most praise from said publication. Other publications, large or small, have other reasons for pushing particular products - reasonable or not.
Yes, I encourage my readers to try certain products. My reasons are because the wine was very enjoyable and I’d love to know that others were able to share the same experience. Or that the wine is sustainably produced, or that supporting smaller producers, both at the local and foreign level, has its advantages. Or maybe I’d like to bring a lesser known wine to others’ attention, because otherwise they might not have the opportunity to try it, if they don’t know to look for it. Or maybe I can see some bias out there, and notice that a very good producer is being excluded for whatever reason, and since I don’t share in that bias, I prefer to encourage my readers to try that product, simply because it’s just so good and worth trying, and no one else was going to mention it.
An unbiased bit of advice I can offer to my readers, and to anyone else, is that, yes, it’s good to read up on wines and wine trends. But ultimately, you’ve got to do your own thinking and deciding, and that’s done by trying more and more wines, and forming your own opinions.