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QRW Wine Diary

People continue to worship at the altar of numbers, still believing that one can put a numerical rating to something as abstract and nuanced as wine . . . Wine ratings satisfy the lazy and bring out the philistine . . . Ratings have killed wine education: consumers give themselves over to rating not reading . . . What numbers can’t do that fine words can do is excite the imagination. But consumers believe this less and less and worship more and more.

Wine tasting notes have become as passionless as wine ratings.

Passionless to the pathetic: when did wine become “bejeweled life” or “iconically unique?” Wine writing should be a sphere of scholarship made sociable and engaging.

An old refrain: if wine isn’t rated at least 90, no one wants it; if it is 95 or higher, no one can buy it. . . . Question: why are wines rated a mere 87 and lower being advertised?. . . Desperation? Wine PR people, whose influence at wineries is only slightly higher than the cleaning crew, love wine by the numbers, until the numbers turn on them.

Wine Investors, like wine ratings, seriously inflate the cost of wine. Restaurants do the rest marking up wine three and four times the wholesale price. And diners don’t seem to mind . . .

This is the first Autumn issue in which we have not covered the new Bordeaux vintage. Why do it? Who beside the very wealthy can afford them? What have we done to deserve the current prices of Bordeaux? $2,200 a bottle for 2009 Ch√Ęteau Latour. Ditto for California cult wines: buy expensive grapes, make a few hundred cases, tell the press it’s wonderful, sell it via private subscription, and you have the 2008 Screaming Eagle selling for $2,000 a bottle, which will ultimately be sold by the purchaser on eBay!

It’s autumn already and one of the most uneventful wines in the world, Beaujolais, will be upon us.

Gin, Vodka, Tequila, and blended whisky are for people who need alcohol, not wine.

May six o’clock never find me alone without a glass of wine. And the only wine at six o’clock is Champagne, which allows us to survive the nightly news and economists. It’s the only wine that can change a mood, offer salvation, and save a day that has unraveled and gone to hell.

China, China, everywhere. Will there be a drop for us to drink? China dominates the wine market. Will we be able to read wine ads when they appear in Mandarin?. . . In the 1980s, it was Japan that drove the wine market; today, it’s China. Soon Albania . . .

I detest mundane toasts. . . . I shall remember to toast myself, if for no other reason than having survived wine publishing for 35 years.

— Richard L. Elia

(Article reprinted from QRW Autumn 2011.)


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