Nouveau Riche Label Wine Drinkers
By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
Who is a renowned Travel, Food and Wine Writer/Editor/Educator and International Wine Judge
MOST will agree that the world of wine is sometimes an elitist world of snobbery and pretentious individuals who want to show off their knowledge of wines. By doing so, they sometimes exhibit their ignorance of wines. Their obsession with Parker points stems from their basic misunderstanding of Parker points which apply to only wines in that particular price range and category. They interpret it as applicable to all wines, whether white, red, sparkling, fortified, New World, Old World, or what have you. As for Parker, while I have the greatest respect for him, an eminent Swiss wine importer, Monsieur Michel Bouverat told me once, “Mom ami, how can one person taste so many wines??? C’est impossible!” Think about it…
And, highly reliable sources in Bordeaux tell me wineries know what Parker likes and which type of wines he will award high points to. So what do they do???
Eh, voila! They simply make batches of their wine to the taste and aroma profile that will get them the high points… and then let Parker taste them. The rest is made as per normal. When the high points are awarded, they jack up the price of their wines. Scandalous! Hard to prove that this goes on but…
And Parker himself, it is documented that he has NO formal training in Oenology or Viniculture so how in heaven’s name did he become so influential???
And so to nouveau riche label drinkers. They go for Parker points, misunderstanding what they really mean and in China and the Orient, they go for the most expensive wines to show off to their friends and business contacts. “Look I have 2 cases of Chateau Petrus and it cost me this obscene amount of money. I know about wines and I am rich too!” Ludicrous and laughable, especially when they add coca cola and ice cubes to the wine in China. As the proverb goes, “New money shouts, old money whispers…”
Nevertheless, in the commercial world, restaurants and winemakers and wine importers have to pander to the tastes of these wine drinkers. Why? Money! Sell expensive label wines to them and you make lots of money, capiche!
SIA (Singapore Airlines), the best airline in the world by many accounts, in their Wine Selection process tastes the wines ‘blind’. This is good. However, when it comes to the final selection, what clinches the selection of a particular wine is how well the label is recognised by the nouveau riche. Therefore, a better wine in the eyes, nose and palate of their tasting panel, who I am honoured to call my friends, may be rejected. Why? Simply because it is unknown to the brand conscious nouveau riche that fly on SIA’s First, Business and Economy class. Incidentally, the members of SIA’s tasting Panel are my good friends, Steven “Bottleshock” Spurrier, Michael Hill Smith and Jeannie Cho Lee.
As they say, the right wine and the best wine is the wine YOU like. Your personal taste is the best judge. So what the hell, if you are the nouveau riche, buy and drink your Cos d’Estournel, Chateau Smith Haut Lafite, Chateau Angelus (which James Bond 007 drank in Casino Royale), Chateau Petrus, Chateau Margaux… God knows, the wine importers and producers need the money. And money, mon ami, makes the world go round.
C’est la vie et c’est le vin…J