It’s Wine Blogging Wednesday and hosts Erin and Michelle of The Grape Juice Blog have chosen the letter “S”, with a tip of the hat to Sesame Street, as the topic of the day. Immediately I thought of one of today’s hottest wine topics: Spoofulation.
Alice Feiring rages against the machine. Natural wines are the only wines. The problem is, of course, is that no one agrees on what natural wines are. There are natural, organic, biodynamic and sustainable growers and winemakers, but not one definition of what is natural wine exits. Except, of course, for Alice’s and she is sure she is right. The term that has arisen to describe over-manipulated wines is spoofulation, but is spoofulation the opposite of Alice’s version of natural wines? I don’t think so. There are many wines that would not meet Alice’s requirements that are clearly not spoofulated.
What is spoofulation? That now ingrained term, to me, more than anything else, refers to wines of excess: excessive concentration, excessive oak, excessive alcohol and minimal terroir and varietal character. Spoofulated wines are wines that could come from anywhere and any variety. By my definition that does not mean that un-spoofulated wines have to be “natural” or “organic” or “biodynamic”, but without a doubt it appears to help. The reason I say they don’t have to be any of those things is because I have tasted many wines over the decades that not only did not employ these disciplines. but never heard of them. There are many wines from the 60’s that are pretty damn good and I assure you they never thought of such things. They worked with what they had and what they knew and used things in their vineyards that would cause outrage today.
Spoofulation, much like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography, is something I know when I taste it. Spoofulated wines throw balance over the side in a headlong pursuit of points. It is an approach I can understand as wine producers have to make a living like any other farmer. Points from the Pontiffs sell wines to hoards of consumers who drink wine more often without food than with it. The point of spoofulated wines is to grab enough attention in a ten second taste to get a good review and to prevent the consumer from having any more thoughts about the wine, so they can return to their conversation. Spoofulation cannot be defined as “big wines” or “high alcohol wines” or anything other than wines that erase any individual character in pursuit of the lowest common denominator. Spoofulation is to wine what religion was to Karl Marx.
Spoofulation is so much a part of today’s wine vocabulary that a debate has begun on the etymology of the term. Joe Dressner, the importer, whose portfolio is spoofulated wine-free, recently reported on the birth of the term spoofulation on his blog, The Wine Importer, where he recounts the debate over how the word was coined by Harmon Skurnik of the extraordinary importer and distributor Michael Skurnik Wines in New York and Michael Wheeler, formerly of Michael Skurnik Wines and now of that extraordinary importer and distributor in New York, Polaner Selections. Please be prepared to keep your tongue firmly in your cheek as you read this post.
In the last few years we have welcomed a new word beginning with the letter “S” into our wine vocabulary. Now we have to work on defining it.
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