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Mind the Gap

The spectrum of curiosity among wine lovers is ridiculously broad. Some people want to drill down, and learn all about what’s in their glass; others will forget what they drank an hour from now even if they loved every sip. Most people fall in the middle, drawn to wine in countless directions based on taste preference, experience and budgets.

I don’t think the range of wine-enthusiasm has necessarily narrowed in recent times, but the Internet has certainly changed the way people satisfy their thirst for wine knowledge. Between Google and Vivino, there is practically no wine question that cannot be answered in a digital minute, and specific wines can be data-traced with greater speed and accuracy than ever before.

As a result, the very nature of wine knowledge has evolved. In the old model, people would start more generally and gain background knowledge on regions and grapes and then stepping up to place specific producers and wines within that area or genre. Thanks to smartphones and the Web, pursuit of wine knowledge tends to head straight for the specific producer of wine, with the bigger context of region/grapes effectively pushed out of the immediate picture.

Is there a problem with this? Not necessarily. But the net result, I believe, is that wine knowledge has become more circumstantial and therein more superficial. It’s as if we now have more dat than ever about individual dots, but little need to connect them—and less knowledge to apply to future wines. Which is fine, too, as long as you keep that smartphone handy.


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