I experienced a bit of a “conundrum of manners” this past weekend, one that caused me to ponder it for a while – so I thought I would share it with you.
With my wife and daughter away at the Taylor Swift concert – and teenage son otherwise engaged – I thought I would take the opportunity to go check out what was happening at some of the Fraser Valley wineries. But at all three of them, I ran into wines that weren’t bad, but just not my style. At each of them, however, the pourer asked me “what do I think?”
Each time, I hesitated. Partially, because even after 25+ years of wine tasting, I still wonder sometimes whether I actually know what I am talking about. Mostly, though– whether because I am Canadian or just a nice guy – I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
The result, each time, was that I was “careful” in my assessment. “A little thin” was one comment…”made in a different style” was another. Those kinds of comments were able to get me, mostly, out of trouble.
But then I also wanted to tweet my tastings. And tweets, partially because they are so short, don’t lie.
At first, because tweets are electronic, it thought I was safe. None of them were horrible – after all, none of the wines were “off”. But the reds were more Bordeaux in style, which isn’t what I like, and the whites just didn’t have enough fruit. So that’s what I said.
It was with a bit of horror, however, when I saw that a couple of the wineries retweeted my “least insulting” tweets!?!
On the way home, I thought about what a wine critic could – or should – say. On the one hand, if people are following my advice, I owe them the truth. On the other, however, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
So what to do?
In the end – and after considering what I had actually done and said – I came up with a solution.
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows I am a big fan of ‘style’. It’s not about good and bad wine, just about the style of wine that you like. And that was how I had both talked, and tweeted, about all the wines. It was honest, but not hurtful.
So that is what I will continue to do. I will make sure people know the style of wine I like. If wineries make that style – and the price is right – then I will talk about it favourably. If not, then I won’t necessarily criticize it, but I will say it isn’t my style.
Hopefully that is the kind of compromise that will produce a review that is truthful but not hurtful to the winemaker!