I want to talk about the differences between Boomers and Millenials in the wine world on several fronts. Sorry Xers, for simplicity’s sake, I kept you out. Here are the the differences I see:
Back in the day, all you had to do to become famous was start a newsletter (Parker) or plant a few acres of cabernet in the right spot (Winiarski). Baby Boomers were immensely lucky to grow up with the industry—and therefore find opportunity all around them.
Alice Feiring became a wine writer before she knew much about it…she learned on the job. Even the first two wine writers for The Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, were hobbyists who began in other fields.
Today, the market is overcrowded for Millenials in both wine writing and making. We are lucky to get 10 blog readers (that’s a good day!) and winemakers have to share garages with other people in order to afford the rent.
I am a sucker for the wine writing of the older generation. It was meditative, informative, and slightly constipated, the way good writing should be. Back then, if you wanted to learn about wine, you had to go through the card catalog at your local library and check out whatever was available—which had been painstakingly researched, fact checked, and edited. The industry was smaller, meaning there was a manageable amount of wineries and regions to memorize. My introduction to wine writing was actually with such books, through my local library. They were rich with information, but with time, I learned it. I’m still learning.
I don’t like our writing as much. First, we can publish it instantaneously on our blogs, meaning we don’t have to do as much research.
Second, there’s an annoying tendency of bloggers and vloggers to talk to their audience as if they’re out of town hicks who’ve never had a glass of wine in their life.
There’s too many “introduction to wine” type blogs out there, and we need to stop treating our own generation like it’s stupid.
If I want that information, I’ll go to The Wine Bible or something similar. I’ve always found the best blog reading to be the type where I have to hit the ground running, use a dictionary and maybe Wikipedia, and learn as I go along. Also, I’m sick of the word “awesome.” There are other words.
The Wine Itself:
I guess this is hard for me to answer, since I wasn’t there. My impression of the Boomer generation is that there was some crappy wine at first, then great wine, then prices grew massively out of proportion. However, Boomers were lucky to get their hands on some now-expensive wine when it was cheaper, and also get on those cult-wine mailing lists.
I prefer the labels of the older wines, especially the European ones, because they’re so straightforward and unsensational. You have to actually learn about the wine or make an educated guess about what you’re buying.
If you haven’t guessed, I hate the label phenomenon that’s taken hold of our generation. Yes, a lot of those wines are good, but I don’t like being bought by a label.
There’s too many things being written in giant letters with little cartoons on them. Given a choice, I’d probably pick something that looked like it should be covered with cobwebs, just to be stubborn.
In general, I think our generation needs to become a little pickier and snobbier about wine. Including refusing to be won over by a label.
So, you can see I prefer the old ways. Cryptic bottles and constipated writing. I think our generation should refuse to be talked down to.
In closing, I want to dispel two myths that have taken hold of the Millenial generation:
Myth #1: There’s no such thing as good wine, only wine you like.
Hogwash. That’s why we have critics. Of course no one should bully you into buying what you don’t want, but if you really want to learn about wine, you owe it to yourself to learn why a wine is considered great. You may prefer Barbera to Barolo, but you should learn why Barolo is considered one of the world’s great wines.
Myth #2: Price doesn’t matter for quality.
Of course it does! A higher price reflects a world-class parcel of land, grapes that were treated like first-born children, and possibly a legendary winemaker. All of these things should produce excellent wine. That doesn’t mean you have to buy it—there are great values to be had in each price range. But the idea that price is something arbitrary to quality is silly.
So let’s raise the bar, Millenials! Let’s drink like we know we are smart, young, and savvy.