What does it mean to be an expert, and who are the monolithic public set up in opposition to them?by Barry Smith / December 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Have we had enough of wine experts? Do they represent an out-of-touch elite? Should we opt, instead, for the wisdom of the crowd?
This line of thought echoes a current trend against being talked down to or told what to think. And, at a time when the public shows little faith in economic or scientific findings, surely wine expertise doesn’t stand much of a chance. Besides, there is more than a hint of truth in the idea that other wine lovers are often condescended to by confident and competitive wine critics.
The public’s suspicion is that the authority assumed by wine experts is a carefully cultivated affectation based on a cosy consensus established by a privileged few. Surely, it will be said, matters of taste are purely subjective and there are no facts about quality that can be dictated to us.