Top British wine critic: Don’t trust the Wine Curmudgeon

Wine Curmudgeon
“Hmmm.. what should I write to ruin wine today?”

British wine critic Jamie Goode warns wine drinkers against people like the Wine Curmudgeon

The WC can’t be trusted. Or so says British wine critic Jamie Goode, one of the most respected voices in the wine world. Writes Goode: “Beware the consumer wine champion.” His cry has electroned its way way through the cyber-ether to hurrahs and huzzahs, and one U.S. blogger even called Goode’s stand “courageous.”

Who knew I was the problem bedeviling the wine business? I could have sworn it was overpriced, crappy wine. But no, writes Goode. His argument: That wine critics who do what I do are frauds, and that it’s wrong for us to say that any wine that someone likes is OK to drink. We’re full of “faux outrage” at the wine business and we have an insidious, unspoken goal — to foist simple, sweet wines on the consumer instead instead of interesting, complex ones.

Which I do all the time, of course, evilly twirling my mustache. (And I guess Goode didn’t see this rant.).

Goode doesn’t mention me by name, and I assume he has no idea who I am; we travel in completely different wine worlds. But his description of the threat to the future of wine is spot on with what I have done for 11 years on the blog. Hence this post, since I consider myself part of the solution — the problem is with those who insist that wine should be difficult to understand and require its users to practice medieval alchemy to drink it correctly. Besides, the closest I come to belonging to any international cabal is my enthusiasm for Linux. And we know how much good that has done.

I have no idea why someone as well-spoken and as intelligent as Goode would write this, which is more like the sort of blather that appears every so often in the Wine Spectator. I argue for interesting, complex wines all the time. I just want them to be fairly priced and to come without reams of winespeak. And it would be nice if they were generally available.

Goode even says wine critics shouldn’t review mass-produced wines, since restaurant reviewers don’t write about McDonald’s. Which doesn’t explain why movie critics review poorly-made slasher films and car magazines review pickup trucks.

A friend, who sent me the link to Goode’s post, said it was probably a dog whistle, and likely had more to do with internal British wine politics than anything I’ve written. And he may be right.

Still, it’s worth repeating the philosophy that has helped the blog earn its place in the wine world: First, I love wine and I want to share my passion with everyone who finds it confusing and who is afraid of it. Second, there is only one wine rule: Drink whatever you want — just be willing to try something different.

6 thoughts on “Top British wine critic: Don’t trust the Wine Curmudgeon

  • By Rich -

    Re: Jamie Goode

    Let’s face it, Jeff, you’re a dangerous man. I can relate to that. When friends come in from out of state, they are amazed at the values found in Texas wine.

    During a couple of presentations in the viticulture class you now teach (I was in Gus’ last class), I was told by “professionals” that German wine is “too difficult that understand.” Hey, I like Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese, but I can find a good Piesporter Michelsberg locally for $8-10.

    The nomenclature for Deutsche Wein can be taught in 10-15 minutes, tops.

    Keep up the good work!

  • By Irene -

    Amen to your blog. I hate buying wine for $30 or more a bottle and finding it ordinary. I only wish more of what you recommend makes it to the New York and New Jersey area. Someday we will get rid of the stupid rules. Keep up the good work.

  • By Joe O. -

    I read the Jamie Goode article and saw your comment several days ago. Good for you! The WC is a regular sanity check for me in the face of a constant barrage of pretentious industry BS. In fact I just came here for relief after following a redirect from the terriorist website to the new Paul Hobbs effort modestly named HOBBS, and available for a mere $725 per 750ml bottle (3 bottle minimum please). Thank you for doing what you do!

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the Jamie Goode post. It’s one of the reasons why I keep doing this, because it’s not getting any easier.

  • By William -


    I read Jamie Goode’s polemic, and frankly find it as disjointed and confused as the wine industry itself. His diatribe against wine writers he claims encourage their wine-drinking readers to be undiscriminating consumers of syrupy dreck, since syrupy dreck suits their palates, starts with a bang and ends with a whimper. Who are these populist wine demagogues? Are they nothing other than foils whose purpose is legitimize Goode and his like-minded fellows?
    Goode fashions these straw men with which to do battle, and then concedes that his antagonists have several legitimate complaints about the wine industry. Goode can’t even effectively pillory his own creation.

    Next he charges headlong down the slippery-slope of “futurism” and the danger he imagines it poses to the wine world. Where did that come from?

    Goode’s essay is a unwitting example of a certain style of wine criticism – words without substance, which neither educates nor enlightens the reader.

    Wine has an ancient history, enjoyed for centuries by kings and peasants alike, long before varietal and terroir entered the vocabulary. I sometimes get the feeling that Goode and those who share his sentiment that wine should be difficult to understand and enjoy, don’t realize they are centuries late to the party, and therefore don’t get to make the rules.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful analysis. I’m just as befuddled as you are by what he wrote.

Comments are closed.