July 30, 2011 by Kris Barber
Nerds: the untouchables of our society. We like having them around because they make us feel so much better about ourselves. I know how politically incorrect that sounds but I also know you secretly agree. Don’t believe me? Okay, do this: think of two nerds fighting each other. Now, imagine one is wearing a “Black holes are out of sight” t-shirt. Good, now imagine the other wearing a t-shirt that says, “3.14% of seafarers are Pi-rates.” You’re smiling now, right? You’re feeling better about yourself somehow, aren’t you? Yeah, me too. Maybe it goes all the way back to junior high, watching them walk down the hallway with a Bridges of Madison County lunch box in one hand and a clarinet in the other (more commonly known as an “abstinence horn” by those residing higher on the social ladder). Seeing them there spoke to our ego, convincing us that for some reason it was better to be one of us than one of them.
But why would someone be thrust into an entirely different social class for simply playing an abstinence horn or carrying a somewhat feminine movie themed lunch box? Especially considering how well the movie was scripted and cast. The rules and complexities determining these hierarchies are often ridiculous to anyone outside looking in. For example: in the world of competitive bicyclists, if you tell someone their saddle looks too low, you’ve just called them a nerd. Or did you know there are certain brands of binoculars that die-hard bird-watchers would not be caught dead using because of how it would make them look? And even nerd circles have their nerds. For example, when you play Dungeons & Dragons do you use a character sheet to help you remember your powers? I hope not.
Navigating the world of wine is just the same. As different wines ebb and flow in and out of favor, the wine public grabs onto some varietals making them the latest must-drink while vilifying others, usually for no reason whatsoever. Merlot has been a victim of this phenomenon. At some point, somebody decided that Merlot was the Civil War reenactor of the wine world and wine drinkers did not want to be seen with it. But like the chubby kid who becomes a football star, Merlot’s attributes could not be ignored and have recently brought it back to the starting lineup.
This week’s recommendation:
Starmont Merryvale 2006, Merlot ($23.99): Like nerds on the day the cute girl joined the AV club, dark fruit, smokiness, spice, and mocha flavors compete with each other to stand out.
To read more of Kris Barber’s insights on wine, visit his blog at www.winerogue.wordpress.com.