Thursday, June 4, 2015

Oenophilia Phobia

What is it about fine wine that enhackles the proletarian sentiments of the boorgeoisie? Sarah Miller investigates.

Her main point: all taste is acquired and if you've developed an eye for decent literature and an ear for good music, it's no more unusual to have worked on a palate for good wine. Cheap wine does indeed suck, I can aver. But that doesn't mean it can't be worth drinking. Hell, sometimes you feel like Olive Garden. Sometimes you want to watch Kevin Bacon in a lead role. Who am I to judge?

Is expensive wine euvoluntary? That's a trickier question. In last week's dipwad outrage of the moment, a typically semi-sentient politician made a hyperbolic remark along the lines of "why do we have X number of different kinds of deodorant when there are starving children in the world?" Or maybe it was "this country" since the moral sentiments of the typical politician can't see past their own constituency. I think that perhaps the same pedestrian intuition underlying this misapprehension of economics also supports anti-elitism aimed against wine lovers. What are you doing sipping fancy-pants fermented grape juice when there are children out there who go to bed hungry?

If that were the tradeoff, then of course it would be monstrous to drink good wine, or to buy a yacht, or to spend two months' salary on an engagement ring, or to really do much more than live hand-to-mouth and give away the remainder of your salary to hungry orphans. Every now and again, you do hear of someone doing that, but it's always noteworthy for its extreme rarity. It should be noteworthy for its long-term inefficacy, but I suppose I shouldn't expect too much of short news cycles.

Instead of worrying about what others spend their fairly-earned money on, perhaps it'd be more fruitful to examine what institutional barriers exist that prevent low-income earners from making a more comfortable living. Complaining about wine and deodorant doesn't help the poor the way eliminating licensing restrictions would, for example.

So go ahead and enjoy your fine wine. But if I catch you paying more than twenty bucks for a bottle of vodka, I'll know you're a poseur. Get the rotgut, send it through an activated charcoal filter a few times, and take the Pepsi challenge with top shelf neutral spirits. I guarantee you won't be able to taste the difference.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?