Annual Wine Spectator poll uncorks the hype

I learned today that a preview of the Wine Spectator’s annual “top 100” list was out. I subscribe to the magazine but will admit that I never fail to study the finalists as soon as they’re made available online, with a particular interest in the so-called Wine of the Year.

Wine of the Year. Truly? This is the pinnacle of 2011, superior to anything released in any corner of the globe? A better wine can’t be imagined?

Like music or film, wine can’t run or swim or answer a complex litany of questions in a short span. These are emotional commodities that blend with our personal chemistry and moods and yield different reactions in all of us. They can’t be weighed or ranked by time and velocity. So this top 100 stuff? Bogus for sure.

But the Big Wine Poll is an alluring exercise in hype – one that many of us fall for. It’s marketing and marketing works us over – hard – for much of our daily lives. Who among us can deny having owned an iGadget? Or having read The DaVinci Code? Anyone have a niece addicted to the “Twilight” movies?

There is good content in the Spectator. Some writers, like Matt Kramer, are better than good – and democratic (small “d”) in their approach to wine. But the whole can’t sum up to the smattering of good parts. The magazine plays favorites, worships wealth and crystallizes the Robert Parker wine-as-a-score scheme. It’s a bankable formula. Ever notice how SNL, U2 and anything associated with the Eagles can do little wrong in the eyes of Rolling Stone? Five-star albums and 100-point wines a fulfilling life do not make, but they unquestionably open the wallets of baby boomers.

Read part II