I was reading this and it touched on something that had come across in totally different subjects/genres/whatever, and since there’s a clearly correct answer, I thought I’d mention it here.
From that article is this:
Critics, of all people, have an obligation to take a stand, and if you truly adore the subtlety and elegance of La Tâche, it is impossible to believe that you can derive equal pleasure from wines like Krankl's The 17th Nail in My Cranium (it's a Syrah that weighs in at around 16 percent alcohol). These are wines that offer completely conflicting notions of balance and quality – and, no, it doesn't matter a bit that they are made in different regions and from different grapes. In fact, I'd say that any critic who gives whopping scores to SQN and then turns around and does the same with DRC is not really a critic; he's a shill or – worse – a cynic, deliberately not coming down on one side or the other for fear of offending his audience or costing himself potential readers/subscribers.
You don’t have to know anything about wine to get the general idea, and by pointing to similar examples I’ve heard in other places, it’s clear to point out the fallacies involved here.
While writing this post, I read another article that touches on a similar point, but from a slightly different perspective:
I often wonder what I would call the “average” wine consumer thinks of the ongoing battle for hearts and minds that pits advocates of ripeness and richness against champions of restraint and low alcohol. It is a battle that has insidiously worked its way into a good many aspects of contemporary wine culture. It would be easy enough for the interested, but inexperienced, wine drinker to conclude that there are essentially two models for wine and that they are as bipolar as bipolar can get. The rhetoric gets downright caustic at times, and friendly discussion has given way to monologues of extremes wherein the vast middle ground is ignored…..One thing I have learned over the years is that there are wines of great beauty to be had in an extraordinary range of styles; beauty easily missed when dogma and polemic rear their heads.
This is the perspective that I am more inclined to share, from a deeply philosophical perspective.
That is to say, there are, in fact, quite significant differences in how wine is made, and the characteristics of the resultant product. These differences and characteristics are not ephemeral, they are real, grounded in the real world.
However, this is nothing to say of what one prefers, where ‘one’ can mean both ‘the general public’ or ‘any specific individual.’ I might like one thing at one particular moment in time, and another thing at another moment in time, even when those things are quite different.
This applies, of course, not only to wine, but also to many other things, like music. As I’ve mentioned before, I like Colbie Caillat, and yes, I know that is creepy. I also like King Crimson. It is difficult to imagine two more different things. But, I might, at some particular moment in time, prefer to listen to one rather than the other.
Now, it is natural, in this situation, to ask “But which is better?” To which I would say, “Better in what way?” In almost every possible respect, I suppose I would say that King Crimson. Unless I want to listen to mindless pop music that makes my toes tap (so to speak). King Crimson pretty much sucks at that.
“But which is better?” I know, it’s tempting to ask that question. But, if you really think it makes sense (and I think it probably does), how does it make sense?