Lose Your Sense of Decency…for only $19.95

"How to Sound Like a Wine Expert – In 10 Minutes Or Less"

I think this is a great one line value proposition, especially if aimed at people who have decided they want to learn more about wine. But it also strikes me as indicative of the overblown expectations too many people have adopted when it comes to learning a new skill or talent.

But the problem is that this offer isn’t aimed at people who want to learn more about wine. It’s aimed at people who believe that if you can fool someone into believing you are an expert, you are, by default, an expert. There are some pretty deep philosophical implications to this idea having to do with reality vs. perception, language as a constructive path to the creation of reality, and the maleability of morals and ethics.

This offer of becoming an "instant Wine Expert" by sounding like one comes from Stephen Reiss,Ph.D, author of WineEducation.com and a Certified Wine Educator. Reiss is the author of "Juice Jargon: How to Sound Like a Wine Expert."

In a press release he offers this opportunity to fool people if you only purchase his book for $19.95 plus shipping and handling.

Based on Dr. Reiss’ website, there is every indication that he has a very deep understanding of wine. And though I’ve not read his book, his description of its contents and what it can teach indicate he understands how to communicate, write and educate.

What bothers me, and should bother anyone who values the time they’ve taken to understand wine or any other discipline, are two things: 1) His willingness to support and encourage the idea of shortcuts to success and 2) his apparent belief that success is achieved by fooling people into believing something that just isn’t true.

Reiss understands that there are significant barriers to being comfortable talking about wine. He understands that these barriers can be intimidating. What he doesn’t understand is that by going around a barrier, rather than over it, you simple leave more barriers behind for the next person to have to overcome. 

Posted In: Wine Media


One Response

  1. Stephen Reiss - March 23, 2008

    My original comment doesn’t seem to have survived as long as this blog entry, so I will once again try to come to my defense.
    “How to Sound Like a Wine Expert – In 10 Minutes Or Less” is the title of the press release. Not the book, nor does it in any way reflect the spirit of the book. It is typical marketing hyperbole written by my publicist and designed to make people read the press release and hopefully write about the book which is misrepresented here as “Juice Jargon: How to Sound Like a Wine Expert.” The actual title is “Juice Jargon – How to talk about wine.”
    Mr. Wark is quite aware of hyperbole, as he himself is a publicist.
    I agree that there are no short cuts to knowledge. That is why I wrote a 300 page book, and not a 5 page manual. That is also why my website WineEducation.com has been a recognized resource for more than a decade (hundreds of students at University of California Davis visit each month).
    What my book IS about is the simplification of wine jargon so that it is more universally understood. I dismiss many of the common terms used in wine for being either too vague or simply not being universal enough. Instead I stress the importance of balance and point out that a small set of every day words are all that are necessary to convey the general experience of wine.
    The book is also a glimpse at the regions of the world, complete with basic maps. Wine making and grape varieties are also well covered. Finally, Juice Jargon is a dictionary of wine terms complete with a pronunciation guide.
    If someone wants to post a blistering review of my actual book, so be it, I probably deserve it; but, this post is about the importance of knowing there are no shortcuts, not a review of my book, or of anything I have ever said myself. I agree with Mr. Wark in this regard, and I hope that this comment manages to survive along side his original blog, so that I may defend myself against this misunderstanding.

Leave a Reply