The cyber-ether has been flaming since Thursday's Enobytes post about certifying wine writers. Who would have thought wine writers cared that much? Even the Wine Curmudgeon has been flamed, and right here on my own blog. Given that this is not the kind of blog that gets a lot of comments (what's there to say about a $10 wine review?), getting flamed is even more rare. Almost made me feel hip and with it. Thank you, Mack Daddy and Ned.
The Enobytes post is up to 159 comments as of this morning, many of which are mini-posts themselves. A look at some of the most interesting ones, as well as comment from other wine blogs, after the jump:
• The Wine Spectator's reader forums posted a poll on the subject, and its members voted more than two to one in favor of non-certification. Yes, I was surprised. Said one comment: "If a wine critic/writer is knowledgeable and I agree with his/her reviews, I'll likely buy. If not, I won't. A certification won't change that."
• The Enobytes comment from John Kafarski of the Wine Culture Project: "Having passed a number of examinations through WSET, Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers, I think it's shortsighted to think that just because a wine writer, sommelier or critic is anymore qualified in understanding wine than someone who is not 'certified.' Certifications and post nominals are often thought of as the be-all, end-all in the wine business. Just because an aspiring writer or sommelier learned the Grand Crus of Burgundy by memorization, it doesn't necessarily mean that the student understands the differences in the producers and wines from said villages. Nothing, and absolutely nothing, replaces the wisdom of understanding wine's sense of place through the bottle. Clearly, a wine writer should know the basic soil types, climates and boundaries of specific, popular wine regions in order to hold an intelligent conversation with his/her peers. However, if said writer believes that this amount of knowledge suffices, they are sorely mistaken."
• The Enobytes comment from Howard Goldberg, who writes for the New York Times: "Frank J. Prial, my former colleague at The New York Times, is, in my judgment, one of America’s great wine writers. Was he 'certified' — whatever that means? By some outside 'authority'? Not so far as I know. By an inner something? Yes. Where did his greatness lie? In his modesty. In his street-smart native Irish story-telling ability and his reportorial seasoning. In his skepticism. In his understanding of his audience. In his ability to define a balance between taking wine seriously but not pinky-finger seriously. In his patent Francophilia, which is to say his understanding of the international value of wine’s Mother Church. The atmosphere of Frank’s columns was as important as — or perhaps more important than — their facts. You cannot certify atmosphere."