What happens when aliens from another galaxy discover wine – and the scores that go with it?
“I don’t understand,” said Brzyx. “What’s the point?”
“We’re humans,” said Miller. “We rate things. We list them. We rank them. That’s what we do.”
Brzyx’s accent was thick, but Miller could understand it without too much trouble. And why not? If its species was advanced enough to travel hundreds of light years to get to Earth, they could certainly speak passable English.
“But why can’t you just enjoy it?” said Brzyx. “It’s different, this wine, from anything we have at home. It’s pleasant. It’s – what’s your word? – enjoyable. I like the – what are they? – fruit flavors. I like the feeling I get from the thing you said was alcohol.”
“None of that is enough for us,” said Miller. “We have to sort things in order, top to bottom, first to last.”
“But scores?” said Brzyx. “All they do is spoil the fun, take the joy out of this wine thing. What possible difference could it make to anyone if something is 91 points or 92? Who can even tell the difference?”
“They claim they can,” said Miller. “It’s a huge business – lots of multi-million dollar companies, hundreds of experts claiming to know more about wine than anyone else. Telling people what kind of wine they should like.”
Brzyx sighed. At least Miller thought it was a sigh. It was kind of hard to tell.
“So you have all these wine experts spending all this time and money – scarce resources on your world – to give something as wonderful as wine a score, instead of using those resources to solve your world’s real problems, like hunger and poverty?”
“That’s pretty much it,” said Miller.
“Now humans make sense,” said Brzyx. “All that time and energy for nothing. No wonder you’re still stuck in this solar system and we had to find you.” He took a sip. “But I do like the wine.”