B Sides Episode 7
No wine, and Oliver Tree
Look there is Flawed wine and there is bad wine... and there is Oliver Tree.
Oliver Tree is probably the strangest artist that I’ve shared so far. There isn’t a ton of information about this young man as he refers to himself as “part meme, part something less definable.” Somehow his music is interesting, well produced, and rather sophisticated, despite not having a ton of material out there. Additionally, the track to the right, “Hurt,” feels like a really personal expression of the frustration of not living up to others’ expectations. But if you ask him what it’s about… he says it’s about a scooter accident. There is something about the music and his style that you can’t separate, and I can’t look away from the chaos; I fucking love it.
I can’t tell you the number of bottles of wine I have opened in life; even if I don't count the bottles open at the winery, it is still beyond counting. Every time there is still a tinge of excitement. What is this one going to smell or taste like? Did I open it too early? Too late? There is also a touch of “Is this going to be a bad bottle?” Sadly, I experienced this twice last night. TWICE! Do you know how fucking frustrating it is to find two bottles of wine in poor condition?
I say poor condition because there is a very big difference between “bad wine” and “flawed wine.”
Flawed wine is easier to define than bad wine. These are wines with a chemical flaw. Things like: Volatile Acidity (VA) or “Corked” (TCA) are the most common, with VA smelling like nail polish or nail polish remover, and TCA smelling like cardboard, wet dog or the cork itself. These flaws can come from a number of places and usually mean something was dirty along the way. This is a gross oversimplification, but I am trying to keep it quick because there is a larger point here.
Bad wine is harder to define because of the fact the tasting is subjective, not objective. Thirty people can taste the same exact wine and they will all define it somewhere on the spectrum of “the worst thing they have ever tasted or put in their mouth” to “the greatest gift from their god that has ever been bestowed upon them.” I believe that tasting needs to be more contextual, meaning judge what the wine is and then decide if it is a wine you like as it is. Example: I am not a big fan of Gewürztraminer; dry or sweet or French, Italian, or German, doesn’t matter. However, there are certain things that make for a good Gewürztraminer: the acid is medium-low, it is aromatic, and the sweetness is commensurate with its designation. When a Gewürztraminer doesn’t have these things or if the wine is out of balance then that is a bad or poorly made Gewürztraminer.
“Nick, get to the point.” I’m there, I’m there. When tasting wine and learning about wine we need to be fully conscious of what exactly is in the glass. I believe that an immeasurable amount of good wines each day, week, month, and year are written off as bad when they are simply flawed. On another side of the die, a number of good wines are written off as bad because the person simply doesn’t appreciate the grape or region itself. And there are many more sides to the die; could be a 20 sider, who knows. So, the next time you open a wine you have never tasted before, take a very brief moment to consider these concepts. If the wine is flawed, dump it and move on; ain’t no one got time for that. If it is good, get after it. If it is bad, dig in and determine what it is about it that is bad to you. This learning will lead to a new golden era of understanding wine and drinking better and better wines.
Until next time, Cheers!