I have this recurring daydream about being invited to a famous wine writer's house for dinner. I would be awful, and I would take great delight in being so.
- "I'm afraid the salad dressing is a little on the acetic side."
- "The lamb is a little overdone, somewhat dry, don't you think?"
- "The asparagus, is, well, wonderfully green. Perhaps it needs some cheese."
- "I'm sorry, I'm sure your raspberry chocolate soufflé is wonderful, but I find sweet food so cloying."
When you criticize a winemaker's wine, you are, in essence, criticizing his cooking. Nearly all winemakers are intensely interested in food: fresh ingredients, gentle techniques, attractive presentation. The same things that go into making wine.
Cellars are generally tidy places. The wines move in routine and carefully planned stages through pressing, tanks, barrels, adjustments, bottling. Winemakers shuffle around in the cellar tasting the wines as if they were pasta sauces, waiting a little longer on some, blending here and there, time to finish up on others. They also put a lot of energy into choosing their bottles and designing their labels. Some winemakers shop for glassware with the fervor of a bride looking for china. If the winemaker is also the owner, you can deduct much about him from his label design.
Winemakers, however, don't think of their wine as "product" unless they're talking to their CPA or marketing director. They think of wine as a process--the elegant presentation of a whole food, fermented and finished in oak.