Virtue Signaling and Nonsense in Wine

I don’t like anonymous comments on this blog. I like anonymous emails even less. It strikes me as cowardly and suggests the person commenting/emailing doesn’t possess the courage of their convictions. It’s also a huge factor that leads to the divisiveness that plagues conversations on the Internet.

That said, I’m compelled to (once again) published another anonymous G’email that would have carried (a tiny bit) more weight had it been placed in the comment section of this blog with a name attached to it:

Mr. Wark,

It must be nice. Using all that white male privilege to criticize. Your habit of using your blog and position to demean women in the wine business is typical of the way cis white men have used their privilege for decades to impose their view of what wine should be on everyone else. Fuck patriarchy and fuck you.

Natural wine will continue to replace all the conventional and “MANipulated” wines we’ve been stuck with as people like you are replaced with women and POC who care more about the world around them then (sic) preserving their privilege and shutting out any dissenting voices.

Everyone understands what you are doing when you dismiss Katherine Clary’s commitment to natural wine as” naive”. Only someone that looks like you could begin to call Katherine naive. It’s time for old white men like you to get off the stage so we can get on with fixing this fucked up industry.

Dear Gmailer:

As soon as someone (perhaps you) can explain to me what it is exactly about the palates or perspectives of woman, people of color or non-cis-gendered people that can provide me with a unique explanation of the quality or characteristics of a 2015 Oregon Pinot Noir or 1990 Bordeaux that a white, cis-gendered man cannot explain, then I’ll take your perspective seriously. Until then, all I can say is that you’ve got to do better.

If you are interested, I can give you a very long list of women writers and wine critics who have “impose(d) their view of what wine should be on everyone else” in exactly the same way that the “patriarchy” has done over the years. What are we to make of this?

If you want to argue that the diversity of the wine industry could use improvement, I’ll line up right behind you and carry your flag. But if instead, you prefer to label legitimate commentary on (even criticism of) a perspective on wine (such as Ms. Clary’s) as nothing more than a function of my race, gender or sexuality, then you and your views will be summarily dismissed like this: OK, Child.


9 Responses

  1. Tom Elliot - January 5, 2020

  2. Chris Kassel - January 5, 2020

    “old white men…”

    Wow, ageist, racist and sexist all in one sentence. Not sure what you call that in California, but
    here in Hockeytown, that’s a hat trick.

  3. Jim Bernau - January 5, 2020

    Completely agree about anonymous posts. Didn’t catch any male privilege in your writing so not sure for what to look. Thank you for continuing to share even anonymous posts, appreciate the insight into views I don’t generally encounter.

  4. Elizabeth Schneider - January 5, 2020

    Can someone explain why you can’t take exception with natural wine and it’s sanctimonious movement? I’m a Jewish (now I’m technically an ethnic minority) woman and I found myself shaking my head in agreement with most of the things you said in your article. This demonstration of cowardice and immaturity shows how people hide themselves online rather than engage in productive dialog.

    So, you don’t like natural wine and this person loves it? So what? She can’t defend her viewpoints strongly enough to do it in a public forum so she seethes anonymously at you. I find it utterly ridiculous that she feels there is no room in the world for multiple types of wine and winemaking styles. It really reminds me of conversations I have with my 5 year old daughter about the gray areas of life. This person has missed her opportunity to have a productive conversation with a smart dude (that would be you, Tom), and instead taken a very low road.

    Your comments have nothing to do with you disliking women. They have to do with you disliking a dogmatic, closed-minded way of thinking about wine. Which the commenter only served to highlight. I guess you can thank her?

    I can vouch that there are a good many terrible, petty, condescending, horrible men in this industry (and women too, BTW). Tom Wark simply isn’t one of them. Of all the trees to bark up, she got the wrong one.

    Wine for Normal People

  5. Del Atwood - January 5, 2020

    Well said.

  6. Tom Wark - January 6, 2020


    You are kind. Thank you.

    For me the most interesting thing about our emailer was the contention that a female palate had something unique and inherently female to say about a wine’s character and quality. If that’s not an ideological statement with no factual foundation, then it is among the most important findings the world of wine has ever uncovered. However, I suspect it’s the former, not the later.

  7. Amber LeBeau - January 6, 2020

    I really thought that letter was a joke and that somebody was trolling Tom by pretending to be an obnoxious incarnation of a feminist Natural Wine zealot.

    But the more I thought about, the more angry I got at the thought that the letter could be real and that there are people out there who think like this.

    Screeds against “MANipulated” wines and “Fuck patriarchy” doesn’t do anything to help tackle the serious diversity issues we have in the wine industry.

    I wrote this post not really as a defense for Tom (he doesn’t need it) but rather to offer another woman’s perspective on the salty old white men in wine.

  8. Lawrence Dutra - January 6, 2020

    @Amber: my experience is that referring to an individual as a “Natural Wine zealot” is redundant 🙂

  9. nimabi - November 30, 2023

    Thank you very much for sharing, I learned a lot from your article. Very cool. Thanks. nimabi

Leave a Reply