Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Moped" Wine Defined

Give me a minute and I'll get to the point.

There are a million useless ways to categorize wines: by region, age, variety, price, and by flavor style/taste (a disturbing trend).  Another useless way: by seriousness.

Some wines command respect for their elegance or craft or balance, or maybe come across as just so thought-provoking that you can't help but contemplate them.   Sort of like the way an evocative work of art affects you.  We use words like brooding or swooning or decadent to describe these wines.  They are serious wines, either by tone or by quality.

At the far opposite end of the seriousness spectrum are cheap thrill wines; wines which are flashy, delivering lopsided, over-the-top characteristics.  This category of wines are anything but serious.  They are brazenly manipulated, often overly extracted, unjustifiably high in alcohol, and dispense an overabundance of one single attribute, which, in moderation, is probably desirable, but when concentrated imparts a caricature-like silliness.  They are also a ton of fun to drink.

I've come to term these as Moped Wines because, like the old joke goes, they're a ton of fun, just as long as no one is watching.

Call it vanity.  Call it winelitism.  Call it completely against the irreverence which I hold so dear.  But in a universe of virtually unlimited, more serious options, indulging in cheap thrills feels like, well, indulging in cheap thrills. 

Is there something wrong with that? I sure hope not.  Because sometimes you don't want to put any thought into your wine.  Sometimes you want your wine to spoon feed you obviousness.  Moped wines might not be for everyday drinking, but they sure can be fun to take out for a ride every once in a while.

In the weeks and months ahead you'll be seeing this term here.  Now you know what it means.  And, yes, you're god damned right I'm drinking KJ Chardonnay.


  1. What's so disturbing about classifying wines by flavor/style/taste?

  2. Oh, Paul. Where do I start!? Those retailers and wine bars who are arranging selections based on some arbitrary "mild" or "light", "medium", "full" scale are so full of shit. Here's why:

    First, what does that mean? Are the wines in the "full" section full-bodied? More dense than the others? More fully flavored? Those are 3 different things that do not at all necessarily coincide. And what of the "mild" ones? Do they have less flavor? Or are they just less worthy?

    Second, and more importantly, what is the benchmark that sets the difference between these arbitrary categories? The other wines on the list/shelves? All wines? The owner's palate? It's all way too subjective to make any sense at all to anyone other than the consumer looking to be led around my the nose.

    Give me a simple regional/varietal layout and I'll take it from there. For all the folks who have trouble navigating that kind of organization, there's always the clerk or bartender. Guaranteed they've sampled at least some of the wares.

    But there's always the "Moped" or "Serious" classification. What the hell, right?



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