A part of the wine description system I’ve been creating relies on an initial distinction between commodity wines and fine wines. I’ve never come across another writer’s attempt to really differentiate the properties of the two, but it is very important. As far as sensory values goes, commodity wines are simpler and have relatively less focus on aroma than fine wines. Less description parameters (categories) are necessary to capture them than fine wines of serious depth so why confuse people if its pretty obvious its a simple commodity wine?
Vino Endoxa is about consensus. That is what endoxa means after all, so if a user wants to request more options to describe a commodity wine it can be elevated organically by the crowds. This will start with the super users initially inputting wines in the system and if enough users request additional descriptive options it can be permanently flagged as a fine wine. Distinctions about fine versus commodity wines can be correlated to all sort of other potential data sets very usefully and that in itself can be of spectacular value.
An issue that needs to be tackled is that we may have to get over a stigma of commodity wines. Not enough people realize quality for purpose is a thing. Even though I’m a wine buyer and I have sophisticated tastes (whatever that means), I know I need affordable commodity wines in my life when I’m entertaining large groups and need to keep the party moving. My geeky passions have no place in certain situations. Typically, in my commodity wines, I want the driest wines possible with the least dense aromas. As a skilled wine buyer, I typically need the most help navigating the lowest priced wines because these aren’t well documented in books or conform to historical styles. Conversely, because we must always recognize the polarized market, others want the roundest, smoothest wines, and often densest wines. The market has room for all styles if we can get the right wine to the right person.
Helpful to framing a commodity/fine distinction might be to take a step back and examine the emerging divide between commodity cocktails and fine cocktails in the bar world. Most people like to lump everything under craft or not, but that distinction hasn’t proven useful. A lot of commodity cocktails use fresh ingredients like citrus juice, but they are also very conscientious of price and ease of construction. It is obnoxious when a new neighborhood spot opens up and all they serve is fine cocktails and don’t realize there is a significant need of well made commodity drinks. Conversely, its sad when some people can’t grasp the possible purpose of a $20 fine cocktail with decadent ingredients and custom fabricated serving vessel. Its not an every day thing, but there is noble purpose reaching far to cement a memory or burn down complacency. Everywhere in between is lots of shit like anything else. Too many bartenders are the Thomas Kinkades and Damian Hirsts of the commodity and fine drink scenes, respectively. Please do not mistakenly think you didn’t sort them correctly, they just sucked and missed the mark.
My favorite new Boston trend is bar tenders becoming actually comfortable being commodity cocktail bartenders. Now some are finally trying to be the best at it and they run awesomely fun bars. Where I work, we only make commodity cocktails, and though I construct overly elaborate, highly conceptual drinks at home for fun, I don’t think I’d like to do it at work. I’ve just seen too many instances where a commodity drink out classes a fine effort. Misaligned quality for purpose is painful to see and eventually painful to pay the tab for.
This philosophizing eventually translates to sensory features and specific descriptive requirements which I’m not willing to fully elaborate yet. But making the distinction between commodity and fine successfully is paramount to the success or failure of a wine categorization system.
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