My friend, fellow wine competition judge, and colleague (sorry, bro!) Michael Cervin recently asked me to offer up a comment or two (I agreed to do so on the record) for a piece he was writing for The Tasting Panel magazine, focusing on how (or if) political leanings impacted the wine business.
Michael published a screenshot of his interesting and well-written piece, which includes quotes from other people that I know and respect in the wine industry, and so I am also including it here (above) under the assumption that it’s okay to share.
I am quoted in the article as basically saying that I don’t think about anyone’s politics when it comes to wine, and that I happen to fine wine-industry-types among the more level-headed and reasonable folk when it comes to debating politics in a civil manner. Reflecting back on it, this isn’t entirely accurate, so I felt that I should include a clarification (or two, or three, knowing me), because, well, we live in some heated times when it comes to all of this political sh*t…
While I am quite vocal about being a non-affiliated, informed U.S. voter, with fiscally conservative and socially progressive leanings, I generally keep politics out of wine reviews. I mean, if you vote for fiscally irresponsible policies, for example, and your wine is great, I am going to ignore your (in my opinion misguided) political bent, and focus on the great juice being made.
I have my limits, however.
If someone is making great wine but happens to espouse unabashedly bigoted, racist, misogynistic, fascist, and/or Nazi-esque views, I’m going to ignore your wine. And that’s because there is simply too much excellent wine being made by respectful, hardworking, good people – conservative, liberal, centrist, what-have-you – who, while they have varying political leanings, don’t ever devolve their beliefs or stances into hate. Simply put, the world can get along just fine without wine being made by people who are acting like assholes, and I think that there are, in fact, clear lines that delineate acceptable from non-acceptable behavior in that regard.
The wine business is competitive enough that no one in their right mind would buy a wine, regardless of how good it is, if it comes with a large side order of douchebagery.
Now, there is no doubt that, as of the time of this writing, the USA is in the throes of one of its greatest ever political crisis, in the form of rampant partisan posturing that has become the very definition of harum-scarum, internecine infighting, to the point that the general populace have ceased to matter much to their elected officials. The sad fact is that not enough of us are voting to outweigh the influence of lobbyists, who, coupled with a vocal, misinformed minority of constituents, are effectively forcing minority viewpoints into law.
There is, of course, a quite simple and easy remedy to this, thanks to the forethought of some rather clever individuals a couple of hundred years ago.
In the USA, our political system was founded by a group of true geniuses, who understood that the mechanisms of checks/balances, compromise, and argument would move our country forward (albeit in a zigzag) if we maintain our respect, and our beliefs in the republic and in those systems.
I retain those beliefs, and so, I would argue, should you (voting not just in the traditional sense, but also with your dollars, in a tolerant, understanding, and respectful way). NO one is coming to rescue you – that’s your job; you need to vote as if your future depends on it, because it quite literally does.