I don't know Natalie MacLean. I've never met her. But I thoroughly enjoyed her book "Red & White & Drunk All Over," and I've enjoyed her website writing. We've exchanged e-mails and links, and that was enjoyable, too; Natalie's quite personable.
But something she wrote is hitting the blogwaves, and I'm baffled. Uncle Jack's already posted the text at his site; go read it and come back.
So...are you pissed off? Yeah, me too, but not by the beer v. wine thing. There are bored wine writers facing deadlines all the time, and this kind of thing has been done to death. That's what pisses me off: the "done to death" part. I like MacLean's wine writing because it's honest and fresh and very much not "same-old same-old," and this piece of dreck is nothing but.
Three years ago I might have taken it apart, point by point, but you know, I've done that. I am no longer trying to educate wine writers who refuse to get it unless they're paying me for the lessons. I am happy to share beer and whiskey knowledge with Eric Asimov at the NYT, a wine writer who most certainly does get it. I'm learning about wine myself, the fun way: I'm drinking a variety of it.
The thing that's most painful about this screed that MacLean slopped out is that it's so obviously an attempt to stir things up. She has not only turned her blind eye to craft beers, artisanal beers, the huge spectrum of beers beyond mainstream...she's telling us that she is as she does it. "Oh sure, you can talk about your craft ales and your artisanal brews, but most beer..." Right, we get it, you're deliberately avoiding the rocks that hole your argument, just as you're avoiding box wine, jug wine, fortified wine. It's not about a real argument, or creating a serious discussion. It's all about the bandwidth, baby: drive the traffic.
Well, that's why I cited Uncle Jack's website, not hers. I'm driving what meager traffic I influence to him. He deserves it.
And to all you wine-bibers who are chortling over this...watch your back. You were thought to be every bit as nasty, pathetic, and drunk-oriented fifty years ago. A dedicated band of small, smart, passionate producers turned things around. Sound familiar? Okay, I'll spell it out for you: that's what's happening in beer right now. So why not lighten up and check out the good stuff? You might find something you really like, and a bottle of La Chouffe is a lot less than a comparable bottle of pinot noir.