Vulgar Wine and the Bandwagon of Debasement
I'm happy to report that the good folks over Grateful Palate have begun importing "Bitch Bubbly", a cheap sparkling wine from Australia. This is the second in the "Bitch" line from winemaker Chris Ringland. It began with "Bitch Grenache". I would not have known about this line extension had Lew Perdue of the Wine Industry Insight not Tweeted out his response: "Bitch wine: the coarsening of America".
In an email I asked Lew to clarify his tweet. Being one who can't mince words, Lew wrote me saying:
"I believe that the impact of a profanity is in obverse proportion to its frequency of use. I also think that people with limited vocabularies resort to crude cliches when they can't come up with something original and more interesting. It's just a general devaluing of perfectly good profanity and an indication of the dumbing down of verbal skills. And when your wine can't be distinguished by virtue of its quality, then I suppose relying on shock value can make a few bucks."
Lew is correct, in every respect.
When did "Bitch", "Bastard", "Fuck", "Asshole", etc all become just another set of words to use freely, rather than remain the obscenities they are and used well and sparingly and in the company of those you know well enough to say these words and not completely undermine your own reputation?
I could ask the same thing about a number of other subjects. For example, when did graphic displays of vomiting become regular fare in movies, when before all that was shown was the character gagging, his head go out of frame, then hear the splash of liquid projectiles?
And when did wine companies decide to take advantage of the coarsening of American society by introducing wines with names like "Bitch"?
I suspect Lew is probably right: "when your wine can't be distinguished by virtue of its quality, then I suppose relying on shock value can make a few bucks."
Of course none of this means that Bitch Bubbly will languish on the shelves. I've learned for example that the wine is popular in sororities. And why wouldn't it be. And why wouldn't any parent be pleased to know their daughter is swilling something called "Bitch". Let's just hope we can find a vintner somewhere to shove some juice in a bottle and call it "WHORE!". And while they are at it, why not bottle up some easy juice and label it "IMADICK"? What red blooded American girls and boys could resist debasing themselves with such tastefully named wines?
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate a profanity properly uttered and proficiently used. There is not a person on earth who knows me that wouldn't laugh at the idea that I'm a prude of any sort. I am however offended by unthinking, money-grubbing efforts that popularize profanity, coarsen dialog and expose us all to vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity.