A smartly dressed wine journalist, who has never made a drop of wine in his life, tells a shy winemaker during a mega trade fair how he should make his wine. The wine would have been better if the wine process had been so and so, and if in the vineyard this and if that was done this way and that that way. I was a witness to this one-way conversation and felt ashamed. Just ashamed.

What would have happened if the winegrower told the journalist how he should write a good article? Humility is an important value. Naturally winemakers should be criticized. But as a wine writer or wine professional, I would be cautious.

It typifies the world of wine. You have people who make wine and people who talk about it. Enthusiasts and professionals can acquire numerous titles in training and competitions, but sometimes they forget that the most important place of discernment is the vineyard and the cellar. It is there where the miracle of the wine happens, not in magazines or in brightly lit classrooms and large conference rooms.

Winemakers deserve the most praise, not the best sommelier of the Low Countries, nor the international breakthrough wine writer or new-fangled Master of Wine. Sometimes you hear proudly proclaimed that a particular wine merchant has won a prize in a competition. On the website you can see the shop owner posing with “his” trophy bottle.

Did he make the wine? Did he build the vineyard or maintain it? The undoubtedly skilled wine seller knows wine, but he hasn’t pruned the sticks, sprayed and protected the plants, nor has he harvested them. He had no restless nights with frost, hail or persistent downpours. The dealer earns kudos because he liked the wine, sold and made so many customers happy. But the honour of the crown is the winemaker and his or her team.

A similar phenomenon is well known with wealthy politicians, pop stars or bankers who buy wine domains. They supposedly produce their own wine. But winemaking is not the same as paying to make wine. While the men or women’s costume receive the accolades of the public, the real craftsmen make the vessels and the basement ready for harvest.

People like to brag when it comes to wine but they forget their limited merit. Those who have no dirt underneath their fingernails and have no experience when it comes to a wine cellar shouldn’t, in my opinion pretend to play the first violinist. Give the wine back to the winemaker!

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