This week Sommelier Ferdinand answers the difficult question “Which do you prefer: Red or White?

by Jul 30, 2021Eccentric Somelier0 comments


Some wrote in after last week, wishing me happiness…? Sending me love…? What do you all think, I’m still in love with Matilde? Save your pity for someone who needs it, I beg you! Anyway:

Sommelier Ferdinand,

Which do you prefer: Red, or white? -Clarise

Brilliant question, Clarise! Which do you prefer: oxygen or water?

Red and White exist as a pair, the yin and yang of wine’s natural world. At least, if we’re speaking broadly. In actuality, there is no duality in wine. People say “red” and “white”, but I see wine as the several different spectrums of flavor, interacting to form its own unique concoction. Unlike most things, taste can’t be quantified. That is what makes wine so beautiful, in my exceedingly humble opinion. Unpredictable, rich, beyond any sort of numerical analysis.

Let’s not forget, Clarise, how the enjoyment of wine is dependent on circumstance. I would enjoy a Cabernet if it were paired with Kobe beef more than if it were paired with a Denver omelet, wouldn’t I? As much as I’m impressed (and have been celebrated, internationally, in fact) by my ability to discern wine, I acknowledge that experience is subjective, and so it is my job to manufacture the best experiences for wine-drinkers—not necessarily the best wine for wine-drinkers.

Here’s a real question for you: If you drink white on a good day, red on a bad—you’re going to side with one over the other, right? Which brings me to the hard truth, Clarise—and this is that it’s in your hands to create the best wine-drinking experience for yourself; and this requires personal care.

Well, that’s just advice. The hard truth of this advice is that because wine is technically, by a slim, indefinable margin, subjective—then I can never truly be officially recognized for my mastery of the drink. And, sure, getting an award for my exploits (I think a Pulitzer is most suiting) would be nice—but I lament how this scenario would shape the art of wine. I’ve been celebrated internationally, yes, but never in any sort of ranked system. I am sure I’ve been considered for a renowned, annual award (such as the Pulitzer)—but because of the subjective nature of wine, it hasn’t yet been awarded. And to me, this is an existential issue.

Yikes—I suppose your three-worded question really irritated some sore spot in me, Clarise. Maybe now you understand why such simple prompts like yours don’t register for me. Don’t take it personally, and feel free to write in anytime—preferably with a question that isn’t binary.

-Sommelier Ferdinand. 20.7.21

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