Credo and Frustration

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Credo and Frustration

Postby Otto » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:29 pm

Sorry for posting this here and there on the internet, but I find that different boards have a rather different feel to them and so if anyone bothers to comment on this post, I should hear very different ideas on different boards. I would love to hear criticisms of this pseudo-philosophy so I can smooth out any possible (indeed, probable) flaws in logic.

Wine is not a separate entity of our lives but is connected to everything that we experience hence we view wine from a certain paradigm. We will have some prime ideas, some essentials which we take for granted in wines and then build up a logical system around it which determines which wines and which styles we like.

My basic tenet is that wine must be fresh. Fresh is a difficult word, however, because it will be understood in different ways – just like all wine jargon. It might be easily misunderstood to mean that my wines must be light - but I do love Nebbiolos and Northern Rhones which hardly are light. But the examples of these wines which I like have hefty doses of minerals, acids and tannins which make my mouth water. So should I say that rather than fresh wines, I want palate-cleansing wines? Or savoury wines? Or food-wines? Or are all these terms tautological? It follows naturally from this basic tenet that heavy handed oak is out of the question for me as is over-ripe fruit (or, as it is too often called today, ripe fruit) or even raisiny fruit, low acidity, smoothness and in most instances high alcohol. But as this sort of wine is becoming the norm I find my tastes in wines and regions becoming more and more marginalized.

My current drinking, if I had a better selection of wines available to me, would be mostly German Rieslings, Loire Cabernet Franc and Chenin, traditional styled Burgundy and Claret (except that alcohols, to the detriment of freshness, have been creeping up) and Musar. Due to availability problems and general trends in winemaking I am however constantly on the lookout for such ”marginalized” wines as aged Slovenian Ribolla Gialla, unoaked Godello and Albariño, etc.

I am sure that there are still many wines made which fit my tastes, but at least with the selection available to me it seems as if all wines are made to a mold diametrically opposed to my tastes as understood through the paradigm I tried to note down above. Frankly, I am furious and more than a little dismayed at that. (So if anyone knows of a merchant in the EU who is willing to send to Finland and has a great selection of my type of wines, let me know, please!)

But this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop drinking wine. I find any new bottle exciting – whether it be my style or not. And this also does not mean that all producers should suddenly stop making the sort of wines they are making now to cater to my tastes. Rather I am hoping for more diversity or at least easier access to diversity.

Naturally, also, I do not mean to denigrate other paradigms of taste. As almost everyones starting points are different, I do understand than many peoples ideals of wine can be summarized thus: bigger is better, smoothness is ideal, prunes/raisins are delectable fruit flavours, acidity is overrated and no wine is overoaked but only underfruited. From other premises such a paradigm is logical and hence valid. But not for me, please! Let all tastes live, I say, so I hope mine isn’t about to die of extinction.
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:47 pm

Good philosophical post, Otto. I would rather ponder it for a while and then respond rather than kicking out a knee-jerk comment, but I'm glad you posted it here and expect it will generate some interesting responses.

I'm also impressed that you used "paradigm" at least three times ... ;-)
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Paul B. » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:57 pm

Otto, what a great post. I love these sorts of discussions.

Of course, I view taste in wine as essentially subjective and of course, I agree with the view that the total wine world (that is, "wine" taken to mean all instances of fermented, alcoholic grape juice everywhere) consists of multiple, often distinct though sometimes overlapping wine paradigms. Wine is not a monolith, despite attempts to perhaps make it so by large-scale production, branding, globalization, etc.

An artisanal Burgundy, an amphora-fermented Slovenian Ribolla, a clean labrusca wine made by a serious home winemaker - all of these are wines; yet each of them represents a distinct wine paradigm. It is useless to speak of one paradigm as being "superior" to any other; the most one can do is judge individual wines (not paradigms, because we could for the sake of argument be talking strictly about wines within a single paradigm here) on their purity and stability; the rest, which has to do with character, personality, what effect it has on the given taster - all this is purely in the realm of personal preference.

What causes one to prefer certain paradigms to others? I'm sure this is a complex interaction between our formative sides - including our individual personalities, expectations, values - and the wines themselves. Personally I've always enjoyed paradigm hopping. Life is too short not to take in all the vinous diversity that the world has to offer, IMO.
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Peter May » Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:32 pm

Personally I have a problem with any post that uses paradigm, and here we have three of them in one post :lol:

But what are you really saying?
Otto Nieminen wrote: but it seems as if all wines are made to a mold diametrically opposed to my tastes


But it cannot be true that all wines are made in a way you don't like because there are some wines you like -- and you have listed them.

Isn't it true that Finland operates a state monopoly on the supply of wine? If so, your complaint should be made to the people who choose the wines there. Or uphold the monopoly. Because there are a hell of a lot of wines of all styles in the world.
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Otto » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:44 pm

Thanks for all the responses - been really busy the last few days and haven't had time to respond.

I would rather ponder it for a while and then respond rather than kicking out a knee-jerk comment


Knee-jerk? That bad was it ;)

John, I agree that paradigms and even more so the parts withing the paradigm are not immobile. I didn't intend to say so in my post, but yes I do agree with what you wrote.

What causes one to prefer certain paradigms to others? I'm sure this is a complex interaction between our formative sides - including our individual personalities, expectations, values - and the wines themselves. Personally I've always enjoyed paradigm hopping. Life is too short not to take in all the vinous diversity that the world has to offer, IMO.


Paul, very well said, just what I was trying to say. And so succinctly compared to what I wrote. I hate my verbosity. I need to read more Hemingway evidently :)

Personally I have a problem with any post that uses paradigm, and here we have three of them in one post


What's wrong with the word?

But it cannot be true that all wines are made in a way you don't like because there are some wines you like -- and you have listed them.

Isn't it true that Finland operates a state monopoly on the supply of wine? If so, your complaint should be made to the people who choose the wines there. Or uphold the monopoly. Because there are a hell of a lot of wines of all styles in the world.


Quite! I didn't mean to say that such wines aren't made - in fact I thought I wrote down on my text that they indeed are. And yes, this post is as much a critique on our Monopoly as it is about trying to make sense of current wine trends and trying to map out the logical system in which I see wine. It just happens that these three are interrelated so I couldn't really single them out in the text. It's all a bit fuzzy, but hopefully now understandable.

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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Peter May » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:58 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote: this post is as much a critique on our Monopoly as it is about trying to make sense of current wine trends


There's nothing we can do about your monopoly, but is there any consumer movement for free trade in wine there? Any Finn political parties with a position on it?

You've posted this on several wine forums -- what is the response from Finnish ones?
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Paul B. » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:28 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:Paul, very well said, just what I was trying to say. And so succinctly compared to what I wrote.


Thanks Otto. To put it another way, I believe that wine genres are also paradigms, and because of this I do not believe in judging all genres against one genre and deciding their worth based on conformity to the chosen genre. This would be the exact sort of "monolithic thinking" that Hubert de Montille spoke against so eloquently in Mondovino.
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Paul B. » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:48 pm

Well with all the deleted buzzwords in this thread all of a sudden, the view count is sure to rise by a couple of thousand. Nice move, editor! :twisted:
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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Otto » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:47 pm

Peter May wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote: this post is as much a critique on our Monopoly as it is about trying to make sense of current wine trends


There's nothing we can do about your monopoly, but is there any consumer movement for free trade in wine there? Any Finn political parties with a position on it?

You've posted this on several wine forums -- what is the response from Finnish ones?


Yes I do realize that you can't do anything about our monopoly. As I said, that was only one part of the posting, not something to get caught onto. No there is no consumer movement that I know of and there is no major political machinations going on either. Neither are there any Finnish language forums where I could post this. I realise that I shouldn't have bored you with snide comments relating to my situation. There is, I hope, much else to what I wrote. If not, let's delete the whole thread? The politics is my own venture, what I hoped for was discussion / criticism of the pseudo-philosophical idea of the CENSORED.

I'm curious as to why that word is now deleted? Not a very inflammatory word IMO. I was just inspired by a recent book - Zachary Lockman's Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism - where the term is used to great effect and which builds up a coherent system. I thought, apparently erroneously, that it is well applicable to wine.

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Re: Credo and Frustration

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:39 pm

Hi, Otto ... please don't take offense about DELETED. I was just having a little fun, poking fun at Paul B, really, who is after all the king of the P@R@D!GM. :)

Your post is a good one, and I just wish it had drawn a little more serious response. There is still hope ... I'm going out to dinner now but will try to come back and take a more sincere effort at marshalling my thoughts.

And I'll lift the CENSOR block ... it was really only intended to be in place long enough to give us a laugh.
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