18 Dec 2010

Fashion is stupid

I consider fashion, and things "fashionable", to be bad news in most respects, and wine is no exception to this general rule. Fashion to me implies an absence of individual thought and personality, because it involves following, without much discrimination, what "others" deem to be the right thing to like at any one time. In terms of clothing, it is dictated by highly organised collusion between, obviously, producers of clothing, but also magazines and other hangers-on that make their living from the same business. Their combined manipulation of the public is like sending messages to a bunch of lemmings to urge them jump off little financial cliffs every year. This is clearly why the term "fashion victims" was coined. Nobody can possible need even 10% of the clothes that many people buy.

Wine is slightly different, but fashion can play an equally idiotic part in people's attitudes to wine. A couple of major consumer wine fairs, recently held in Paris, reminded me of this yet again. The largest and most popular annual wine fair in France is called the Salon des Caves Indépendants. When this event started some 25 years ago, most French consumers barely considered any wines outside of Bordeaux and Champagne to be worthy of their interest. Hence the organisers of the fair, which will show any producer provided that they are "independant", decided not to arrange the stands according to region, but to mix them all up. As a wine professional, this means that trying to work in such an environment (there are hundreds of stands) is totally impossible as one spends all one's time running all over the place to attempt to compare wines from a single region. As a result, I never bother to attend it. A more recent and up-market event is a fair called "Le Grand Tasting", which last for two days in an underground annexe to the Louvre, Paris' major museum. I went to this because there are fewer people who attend, the producers are selected on a quality basis, and, selfishly, because they cater for the press by making our work easier in a couple of ways. Howevere I was surpised this year to notice that this fair also refuses to arrange stands according to the regions of origin of the exhibitors. When I asked why this was so, I was told "if we did this, there would be nobody at the Bordeaux stands".

So the wheel has turned the full circle. The French public used to ignore any wine that was NOT from Bordeaux, now wine snobs in France will not even taste wines from Bordeaux!  How silly, and how ignorant, can you get? Wine should always be tasted with an open mind, and there are good wines, at different price levels, to be discovered in all regions. Down with fashion and lemmings!