The Non-Existent Problem of Gatekeeping Around Wine
Who doesn’t love Tik Tok?
Just visualizing the slow movement of a second hand across a clock face brings a swell of delight to our hearts. Now add lipsyncing into the mix or short vids of dogs sleeping with cats and you can understand why this new video creation and sharing platform is all the rage.
And so I was excited to see the article in the Wine Enthusiast touting the Tik Tok Creators who were bringing “Barrier Free Joy To Wine”.
I was particularly interested in finding the answer to this existential question posed in the article: “Will #WineTok de-snobbify wine for good? Or is it a passing fad in a lightning-fast digital landscape?” Besides introducing the new word “de-snobbify” (who doesn’t;t want to be de-snobbified?), the question implies that the wine world ought to consider handing over its marketing efforts to the folks who brought us bikini-clad women in beer commercials and forget about using the written word to discuss off-putting subject matter like terroir, the difference between Napa Cabernet and Medoc reds or how to use a corkscrew. I was primed to learn how we could get thoughtful discussion out of wine.
So, I was excited to be introduced to @winewithtlc, otherwise identified only as “Tyler C”. Tyler, who works for a large wholesaler in San Antonio, for some reason does not want to disclose his identity. Why he doesn’t want to seems like an interesting story, but it wasn’t told. In any case, we learn from Tyler the following fact:
“There’s a lot of gatekeeping [in wine], and that is not the way to grow an industry.”
This is not the first time I’ve heard or read this claim about the wine and the wine world. However, why am I not surprised that the claim is being made by a person who wants to make a name for themself outside traditional channels of wine communications. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for new channels of communication. Hell, I was blogging about wine in 2004 when blogging was new.
However, just once I’d like to read a defense of this claim that gatekeeping is the problem within the wine industry rather than just the claim alone. Hell, I’d simply like a definition of “gatekeeping” in the context of wine. It sounds really bad, whatever it is. It sounds like there are folks standing in front of the thousands upon thousands of books, blogs, videos, wine tasting rooms and wine stores barring access to these things that will enlighten those interested in wine and that without these gatekeepers’ approval no one shall pass. It sounds like something evil is afoot in the wine industry.
But there isn’t. Let’s be perfectly honest. “Gatekeeping” is almost always a charge leveled by those who haven’t been able to get what they want from the industry and when they want it. Whenever I see the charge of “gatekeeping” leveled against the wine industry I imagine my seven-year-old boy looking at me and whining, “HOW COME I CAN’T HAVE THAT CANDY FOR DINNER” then proceeding to walk away and declaring, “You Gatekeeper!”
The Urban Dictionary describes Gatekeeping this way: “When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.
Merriam-Webster, the gatekeepers of official word definitions, defines Gatekeeper two ways: