Monday, November 23, 2009

Understanding Why We Disagree

OK, I am done for now with long posts. Back to ‘peace, love and understanding’ for the wine community. What’s so funny about that?

Here’s what’s so funny. The internet now provides an enormous global stage for wine related pissing matches. Wine rating systems, wine and food matches, terminology, yada yada yada. At the Wine Future 2009 conference I just attended in Spain it was pointed out more than once that the blogging community spends more time rating the raters and critiquing the critics than blogging about wine. What happened to wine as the beverage of civility, bringing family and community together at the table.

The wine blogging community is starting to resemble the family dinner table of my childhood. As a matter of fact one of the metaphors we create for wine and food is this idyllic scene of people at the table, sharing and laughing. Family, friends and good times. I don’t know how it was for you but maybe your family was more like mine. If not you indubitably had a friend with a family like mine and this scene was even more excruciating is one of us had a friend over:

Mom, “We never eat together as a family anymore.”
Dad, “Alright, goddammit – kids, get in here! We are sitting down for dinner together!”
Kids (aloud), “jeez, do we hafta?” (to ourselves), “sheitz, here we go again.”
Mom, “What are you kids up to in school?”
Kids, “Not much.”
Dad, “Sit up straight! Quit mumbling. Answer your Mother.”
Mom, “This is so nice. Honey (Dad), put down your newspaper so we can talk.”
Dad, “Who wants to get me another beer? Get your elbows off the table!”
Mom, “Don’t be so harsh. Can’t we have a nice dinner for a change?”
Kids, “This sucks, I hate sauerkraut. I’m gonna puke if I try to eat this. It smells like crap”
Dad, “You will eat what is on you plate and can’t leave the table until you do!”
Mom, “For chrissake can’t we just get along. Just for once?”
Dad, “Quit whining. Don’t you kids know how to act at the dinner table? Pick up your napkin off the floor and put it on your lap. Quit trying to feed the dog your sauerkraut she is just spitting it out on the rug.” Side note - Dogs don’t eat sauerkraut. Isn’t this just further proof for a kid that humans shouldn’t either – dogs lick their butts, and the butts of any other animal that comes along, and won’t even eat sauerkraut! End side note and on with the family dinner; “And what the hell was with you report card? How on earth do you get a D in phys ed for chrissake? If you want to go to junior college and get your auto mechanics certificate you need to do better than that.”
Mom, “Can’t we just get along for once? (now crying) I can’t take this any more!”

Mom then stands up, ferociously slams down her napkin (sort of) and runs from the dining room with her face in her hands, sobbing.

Dad sighs heavily, pushes his chair back from the table, puts his hands on his knees, leans forward and pushes his way to standing. “I hope you kids are proud of yourselves,” is his parting shot. “Somebody get me another beer,” he call back.

“Thank god the annual ritual of 'family dinner' is over for this year,” is our silent thought. We pour ourselves some cereal and milk and head back to watch TV. Our 15 minutes of sheer boredom and pain is over and life back to normal (or our version of normal). The one thing we do know is we won’t have to face this again for a long time.

Wine experts disagree with other wine experts. Wine experts disagree with consumers. Consumers disagree with other consumers and with wine experts. Moms with Dads and vice versa, teenagers with everyone in the world. People disagree.

Humans create their personal point of view from the combination of sensory stimulus we experience and how that information is processed in our brain. This is how we shapes our individual sense of values, preferences, likes, dislikes, fears, passions, love, hate and so on. I can be thought of as the ‘Psycho-Sensory System’. This is how what we call reality is created.

Two BIG things to know:
1. Our sensory anatomy varies HUGELY from one person to next. This means one person gets an acute sensation and other is oblivious to it. PROP sensitivity (bitter to some, others cannot sense a thing), color blindness, touch sensitivity, hearing, smelling. We ALL experience things differently.

2. Sensations are transmitted to our brains to be processed: compared to past sensations, connected to things we have learned, judged and assessed, quantified and rationalized. Other sensations occurring around us are influencing where in our brain this is happening and what conclusions, descriptions and meaning we are conjuring up. This will create the NEW memories, meaning, assessments and values we will use in the next round of experiences.

This IS subjectivity. And EVERYTHING is subjective, even most everything which we are convinced is objective. And this is why we disagree.

Sugary sweet, simple wine to one person is delicious and wonderful for another.

Over-oaked, over-buttery, high alcohol abominations are nectar for many.

Numbers, words, medals, puffs, stars and any other way we try to describe and share our experiences are ALL metaphorical. Every one of them is valid or invalid. It depends on YOUR sensory sensitivity and neural wiring.

So let’s cut it out, please? Can’t we just have a nice wine community day of blogging and tastings and sharing without making everyone wrong and arguing (sniff, sniff).

The bottom line? CUT IT OUT! I will send you to your room with no Reidel glassware if you don’t and you won’t get any sweet wine that is ok now because it is really expensive, comes for a remote place and is hard to find and smells like honeysuckle and ripe apricots and only got that way because it got a frigging fungus all over it and shriveled up the grapes and you thought that sweet wine was for wimps until you discovered it was ok again if it met all this criteria and scored 93 points!!

AND you have to share it with your brother. Or sister. Or another blogger.
Crap, this blog is long again! More to come on our psycho-sensory systems.

No comments: