A Fight Worth Having?

emojiIn a world threatened by climate change and the insidious emergence of fascism within democratic governments, today I came across an issue that certainly “trumps” all the others, a debate poised to stir the annals of history, on which fortunes will be made and squandered.

Should there be a separate emoji for white wine?

Apparently, there are vast resources, both intellectual and monetary, being deployed to influence this debate.

I must confess that I’m not on the emoji bandwagon. I don’t use them or pay any attention when someone else uses one. I had no idea there was an official organization deciding which emojis see the the light of day and which must be buried in obscurity. So maybe I’m not the right person to consult on the cultural significance of emojis.

But anyway. Apparently, there is a wine emoji in which the wine in the glass is depicted as red. Some people are incensed about this insult to white wines. Corporate behemoth Kendall-Jackson, makers of a famous, blowsy, buttery “reserve” Chardonnay along with La Crema  and Yellowtail have invested thousands in a P.R. campaign devoted to getting a white wine emoji approved. Philosophers are weighing in on whether emojis constitute a language or not. Other guardians of the civilizational flame have taken to the battlements to secure the rightful place of emojis:

Linguist Gretchen McCulloch has proposed that emoji are simulating body language to make our digital communication more like talking face-to-face. Great literary works are currently being translated into emoji form, and courts are increasingly tasked with interpreting emoji in legal cases.

Since 1635, France has had the Acadamie Francaise, an official board that approves changes in the French language. The U.S. has never had such a thing. But now apparently we have the Unicode Consortium, dominated by the tech giants like Google and Facebook, to make decisions about the official emoji-language.

You may or may not be excited to learn that the white wine emoji was voted down for now, apparently based on slippery slope concerns.

If it accepts the white-wine emoji, it might soon be asked to add many other color variations, including other beverages—light vs. dark beer, black coffee vs. lattes instead of the catch-all “hot beverage” we have currently—and potentially all other emoji, from rocket ship to frog.

That would surely threaten civilization.  So the philosophical debate will likely continue, and it is to be hoped that the rest of the wine industry can be roped into pressuring the consortium to rule on social justice criteria rather than crude utilitarianism.

In the mean time I will continue to ignore emojis.


  1. As something of a Riesling evangelist I have long yearned for a white wine emoji. I didn’t realise there was such intense debate surrounding the issue though. Thanks for bringing this to light!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.