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A Christmas Spooftide Carol!
I have received many inquiries lately about the origin of the word Spoofulation. While there is some controvery about the origin of the word itself, there is little question that the popularizer of the term has been Michael Wheeler, the famed New York Wine Industry Personality. Anyhow, here goes....
Spoofulation is a form of manipulation which takes wine away from nature and into the technological world of fake extraction, fake aromatics, fake flavors, fake density, fake acidity, fake tannin levels, fake color and fake sugar levels.
Basically, fake wines.
Unfortunately, much of the debate in the wine world is over "new world" vs "old world" wines, pitting "traditionalists" against "innovators." This is simply not a productive juxtaposition as the bulk of wine in the old world which aspires to go beyond plonk, much as in the new world, is being made for marketers rather than wine lovers. We're stuck in a vicious cycle where new consumers expect wine to be spoofed, buy spoof and spoof dominates what is available. Oenologists, consultants and winemakers, who are running businesses after all, have no choice but to spoofulate or they go out of business.
Spoof or die.
Wine is becoming less a natural product and more a manufactured beverage. McSpoof. This is as true in Burgundy as it is in Oregon as it is true in Napa as it is true in Australia as it is true in the Priorat.
Those who enjoy spoof often create a straw man argument that anti-spoofers are intellectuals who don't enjoy fruit driven and hedonistic wines. Whenever I taste these "fruit driven, hedonistic" wines that I read about in the wine press, I always have to wonder which fruits people have in mind. Certainly, nothing that grows in nature, nothing that comes from the ground. Most of these fruit bombs taste more like cherry cough syrup than any fruit I've put in my mouth. I never find it hedonistic to drink wines made in this style, a style that reminds me of the type of flavored medications my mother used to make me take when I was a child with assurances that "its good for you." Snapple based on fermented grapes is not my notion of wine hedonism.
Hedonism is about pleasure and what makes wine pleasurable and fabulous for me is when there is the balance, minerality, the fruit, the acidity, the structure, the sense of place and time that makes me want to empty my glass. I find it hedonistic when wine enlarges my senses, rather than when it is molded by someone else for their notion of market utility.
It ain't old world vs. new world. It ain't intellectuals vs. hedonists. It is real wine vs. spoof.
Granted, with some regretable simplification.
So, that's why I blog, to the embarassment of my loved ones and colleagues. Since the press does not have this view of wine, I have been active on my blog and in some of the wine boards for the past five or six years and have tried to talk up and popularize this notion of wine. Blogging and wine boards have given me a forum to present these ideas.
All this being said, I have nothing against people enjoying wine I find anti-hedonistic and anti-nature. I don't stop people in the street and rip the Coca-Cola or Snapples out of their hands. Some of my best friends like manufactured "fruit bombs."
So, honestly, I don't see why the self-proclaimed hedonists are so keen to condemn wines made naturally for another sensibility. I always enjoy looking into the Robert Parker wine board, where you get the impression that Parker is a isolated voice in the wilderness being bludgeoned by powerful British wine critics. For Christ's sake (and this is the Christmas season, after all), the man wields incredible power and wants to present himself as a persecuted crusader. Similarly, many lovers of new world spoof feel they have to lash out at people who like harmonious, natural wines.
Blogging has been a way for me to get my message out there about another style of wine than what the industry, press and trade are pushing. As it turns out, there are quite a number of you out there.
Thanks for all your support and a Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones.
And don't forget our Jewish friends out there.