YouTube for YouWine
Video can capture the spirit, not the taste
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
About a year ago this guy with dreadlocks started sending me e-mails with links to something called YouTube. There I could see an online collection of videos he shot and posted. Most of them were business-related. I usually just deleted them. But it was an important lesson for me: new technology is not the exclusive province of the young and hip. Sometimes the old (people my age) and hip master and disseminate new gadgets just as well as the young and shiny. And this comes from a fogy who was in his mid-20s before he ever sent a fax or talked on a cell phone. Actually, I was in my 30s before I talked on a cell phone.
From the three-minute snippets of award ceremonies he e-mailed me, it wasn’t too long before I’d discovered online video gems like people with petticoats on their heads lip-syncing to Ludacris. And now with the site being acquired by Google, it won’t be too long before we see a few commercials with the glut of weirdly shot amateur videos. And I’m not knocking the site. I mean where can you see birthday celebrations from people in Kenya, Poland and Utah side by side? It’s like looking through their private little photo albums. There’s this voyeuristic real-time spy satellite quality about the whole thing.
The best part is that most of the video auteurs have wisely chosen to work in the comic genre. This allows the viewer to avoid pretentious and metaphysically complicated dramas that seem like junior-year film school projects. Yes, YouTube is funny. And, yes, YouTube is one of the fastest-growing Web sites around. But YouTube, like that huge 6,000-bottle wine shop that I visit and think I died and went to heaven, has a few really good selections, some good selections and a whole lot of mediocre selections.
If YouTube is like a giant wine shop then it was only a matter of time before I searched for wine-related videos. A quick search on the word “wine” brought up several hundred videos on Dutty Wine and Buss a Wine. These, according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, are dangerous dances that combine the frenetic body movements of a voodoo ceremony with the head-spinning acrobatics of breakdancing. There were 173 Dutty Wine videos. After that came a whole bunch of sheep videos in French. I don’t know what I did, but maybe the routers and servers of YouTube sensed me thinking about Mouton Cadet ($7.99) or Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($125 or $320 depending on whether you pick the 2002 or the much-praised 2003 vintage). Mouton is French for sheep and saute mouton is French for leap frog. Apparently, the French prefer to eat their frogs and leap their sheep.
Once I got the hang of the Boolean intricacies of YouTube, searching was much more effective. Instead of typing in “grapes” I typed in “cabernet sauvignon.” This produced a more refined result. I got a very animated Gary Vaynerchuck doing something called Wine Library TV. There were these two Australian guys standing in front of a eucalyptus tree swirling a glass of 2004 Bonny Doon Bloody Good Red. Nice wine, but not exactly scintillating TV. And even the introduction ceremony for the La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an ancient and exclusive group of Burgundy producers, was nice, with men in red caps and robes with gold trim, but not an Emmy contender.
In short, I have my doubts about TV shows about wine. It’s really hard to capture smell and taste on tape. Maybe a show about a chateau in Bordeaux trying to survive and make wine set against the backdrop of World War II or a show about a modern Bulgarian winery that’s infiltrated by gangsters from the Caucasus or a beautiful Italian woman trying to break into the old-boy network of winemakers would be more exciting. Even the wine shows on cable are focused more on the tourist aspects of visiting wineries and wine cellars rather than opening bottles. I would love to see a Masterpiece Theater about a grand dinner, with ancient bottles of lovely vintages and tales of Edwardian lust and desire, liveried servants, heirloom silver and lots of game with the feathers still on. This would place the wine in proper perspective as an enhancement to life, not a way of life. And that’s how it should be.
With all the TV I tasted just two wines this week:
2002 Waterstone Carneros Pinot Noir, $17.99. This wine is grown by many different producers, although 75 percent of it, by law, has to come from the Carneros, the southern region of Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The Waterstone people buy the wine and put their label on it. The catch is that you can get some wine from very prestigious vineyards and some wine from the more pedestrian vineyards. It has cherry, plum, cinnamon and grape soda flavors.
Le Saut Secret Chablis Grand Cru “Le Clos” by Josephine Dubois, $22.44. Not chardonnay, but made with chardonnay grapes. Mon Dieu! How can that be? Chablis has different soil, it’s north of the rest of Burgundy, and the chalkiness imparts more minerals. The wine has a whiff of cat box pheromones, but it’s a smooth food wine with a touch of sour cream flavors, lemon grass and kiwi.
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