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breaking rulesThere is an unwritten rule about blogging; if you want your post to be read take someone to the woodshed, be critical, or ream ‘em a new one. That will attract attention.

But I’m going to break the rules here and just agree wholeheartedly with Jamie Goode’s post about rule following. After pointing out that people accustomed to following grammatical rules that make no practical sense—rules against split infinitives, proper use of data as a plural noun, etc.—have a hard time accepting their routine violation, he claims the same could be said of wine:

The same seems to be true with wine. When people have been through wine exams, or train as winemakers, they have a fixed notion of what wine should be. This is seen most clearly when it comes to discussions on natural wines, and their supposed faultiness.

He goes on to insist that in a finished wine, minor flaws, a bit of VA, brett, or oxidation can be a virtue.

We are all different and we are all free to own our own preferences. But we should be cautious before we dismiss or criticize wines that fall outside of our normal parameters for what is ‘correct’, recognizing that we humans have a tendency to become staunch defenders of rules that we have learned.

I couldn’t agree more. If the culture of wine is going to grow and if wine is to reach its aesthetic potential there have to rule breakers and people who are willing to expand the boundaries of what counts as “normal”. As Jamie writes “beauty is not the absence of flaws”. I’ve been making a similar case about beauty (here, here and here.)

But here is where the analogy with grammatical rules breaks down. People violate arbitrary, impractical grammatical rules because it’s tedious and time consuming to follow them when they yield no gain in communicative clarity. Wine rules are not broken because they are tedious but because striving for singularity and distinctiveness demands it.