I've touched on this topic before, but I couldn't help mention this troubling phenomenon again, seeing that it's a pet peeve of mine. Another well-written Jon Bonne article for the SF Chronicle gets nothing but seething responses from the commenting public, many of whom are out simply to trash something for the sake of it (at least the comments that I made it through). I honestly don't know how Jon deals with it, except for maybe just ignoring it all together. The irony of the entire thing is almost laughable, considering Jon wrote an article about how mis-information concerning wine only breeds more hatred from people who don't drink it or understand it. What I find most interesting is the overwhelmingly obvious fact that most who commented negatively seemed not to have read the article - they're just there to gang up on people. I absolutely loathe comment boards that function as a way to bully, berate, or debase people (SF Gate is only slightly better than ESPN.com). It's even worse when that hatred is based on ignorance because the comments are not only mean, they're entirely illogical and stupid.
Jon is completely right when he says that cheap wine is exactly that. The point isn't to avoid cheap wine, only to at least call it what it is, rather than callously claim that wine is always overpriced. The truth is this: there are cheap wines that taste good and there are expensive wines that do not. However, there is no all-encompassing fact, statement, or judgment that can collectively categorize all wine together (which is what people do when they say good wine shouldn't cost more than $3). People love the idea of rich people getting screwed by their own inability to recognize quality. They eat that stuff up. HA! Stupid rich guy thought he was paying $100 for good wine when in fact it's all the same as the $3 bottle! I'm sure that has happened, but the truth is that some wine is expensive because it's better than others. The most obvious problem is that some people don't understand what "good" actually means when it comes to wine, despite Jon's attempt to shed some light on that subject.
"Good" is no different a term with wine than it is with, say, a car. Is a Porsche a better car than a VW Golf? That depends on what you're basing "good" on. Horsepower? Gas mileage? Storage space? What are the criteria? All of those things seem go out the window however when the word good is used with wine. Everything is combined into "good," even if it makes no sense at all. Commenters who felt the need to write, "I don't need to pay $15 for a bottle of wine, when I can get my $3 bottle at Trader Joes," are really saying something to the equivalent of "I don't need to buy a Porsche because I just need something to get me from Point A to B." There's nothing wrong with that statement. However, if you claim that your junker is "just as good" as a Porsche, you're going to get laughed at. Maybe it suits you better than a Porsche, and maybe a Porsche is a totally impractical car for you, but why state that your old Dodge is "better?"
What people really mean by statements like that is that they're happy with where they're at - and that's great! How nice to be content with minimal material goods in life. However, if you're so content with your life then why are you on SF Gate posting about how much better you are for not drinking expensive wine? Jon was definitely not saying that cheap wine is a dumb idea. He was responding to an article that says expensive wine is a dumb idea! Again, there is no secret conspiracy where all expensive wine is really just bulk wine with a different label. And, yes, people who like wine can definitely pick out well made ones from the bad ones in a blind tasting. However, all it takes is one over-priced California Cab getting a bad score, or a sommelier choosing Charles Shaw at a blind tasting to make everyone think the opposite. That was Jon's point. And he's totally right. It's not even an opinion. It's a fact!
Nevertheless, the flood gates open and the vitriol spews......