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London wine snobs go for vino

Perhaps once or twice every fortnight I have to endure the London underground. It is usually a painful and in no way enlightening experience. To help the Londoners endure it better, the Lord has created free newspapers. The most substantial one is cleverly called "Metro", and today's Metro has an article about wine, cleverly called "You decant hurry love". Actually, the two pages of the "Good Taste" section are not so much about wine, they are about "vino".

While the main articles features the Riedel family and their really outstanding wine glasses ("A glass act"), several boxes on the side give beginners useful tips on how to enjoy wine better: "Generally speaking, it's true that red vino works with meat and white with fish." Obviously, only Russian KGB agents out to fool James Bond would argue with that (as a general rule, mind you - there are exceptions).

What I find more interesting is the distinction between two classes of readers.

In the main article on Riedel, wine is called wine and the current Riedel himself gives tips on how to treat wine glasses; or he dreams of the perfect wine glass, the holly grail of his profession. He shares interesting information such as that he sees a trend towards more concentrated wine because wine critics want it that way and that this demand, combined with global warming encouraging stronger wine, leads to a trend towards larger glasses that help these wines to open up. All fine and written in a way that everyone can understand it.

In the boxes ordered around the main text ("Booze buffs get in the know"), "wine" suddenly becomes "vino", as if the average wine proletarian on the tube needs a more casual language to create this kind of homely feeling of being on the same level with the author. This is something I really hate about this kind of journalism, or any bad writing actually.

While the main article does have useful information, the first beginners' tip gets it wrong. It refers to the "controversial 100-point rating system developed by Robert Parker." It suggests asking (supermarket staff?) for "scores on the bin" and gives helpful advise: "96 to 100 is extraordinary; 70 to 79 is average". How useful this suggestion is to people who have only basic knowledge of wine and need to be advised not to have oaky red with poached sea bass, I am not sure. Now they will all be out asking staff in wine shops for wine with a 96+ Parker rating - it should be fun to see the faces of Metro readers after looking at the price tag for these wines! But there is a price to be paid; after all, if you love "vino" your wine would have to be much better than average, wouldn't it? The cheapest wine offered by the internet wine merchant Pinard de Picard that is graced with 96+ Parker points is the 2005 Aalto PS Tinto from Bodegas Aalto for 95 Euro. I am sure every Metro reader would happily spend that on a bottle of wine...

In the category 80+ Pinard offer the Olivares, Altos de la Hoya, tinto (PK) 2007 for 6.90 Euro - a wine that has 90 points (actually, they fake it and it is the 2006 that got that rating). Not that I would necessarily trust Parker or the other wine critic they mention (Stephan Tanzer, 91 points), but the wine does sound interesting. So if you read the Metro this morning and fancy a red with a high rating, perhaps have a look at

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