The Great/Sucks Matrix: What Jerry Seinfeld Can Teach Us About Wine

This photo does not belong to me. I watched Jerry Seinfeld's 23 Hours to Kill on Netflix this past weekend. Jerry is in fine form with his remarkably truthful and always-hilarious observational commentary. And it got me thinking. About you, me, and wine. Shall we?

One of the centrepiece bits in Jerry's latest is a little essay on the uncanny closeness of classic value judgements "great" and "sucks".

"Ohh, YOU would love it, yeah, HE would love it, it's GREAT!" I paraphrase Jerry impersonating raving "friends" recommending restaurants to their friends. YOU would love it. It didn't do much for me but c'mon wouldn't HE love it?

After lamenting the overuse of "DRIZZLING", Jerry recreates the situation of the group walking down the street after dinner.

"Was that great?"

"Nah, I mean that wasn't that great."

"I know!"

"That place sucks!"

That's how close they are. Movies.

"I heard it was great!"

"I heard it sucked!"

"Well, the beginning was great and then it sucked!"

"I know, it could have been great!"

That's how close they are. He succinctly caps off this routine as he hypothesizes a situation where one's ice cream scoop falls off the cone and onto the pavement, a situation which clearly SUCKS, but in which someone simply looks down at their dead scoop of pralines & cream and says:


It's tough for even wine people to talk about a specific wine and not ask in some remote way something to the effect of "What are your thoughts?" or "How do you like this?". Sometimes they ask me, and I don't know what to say. Usually, the person asking is just waiting to say, "It wasn't that great!" or "It's greeaaaattt" or "It sucks!" or "That wine sucked, didn't it?"

I hate pleasing people, so I usually try to find a way to skirt the straight answer. And by the time I've replied with something vague, I'm usually halfway through one of these blog posts. I had a supposed wine guy ask me the other day what I thought of this hyped natural/low intervention wine. Just as a sidebar note, we gotta come up with a more confident category name. Saying natural/low/minimal intervention all the time is like saying "My name is Meghan with an H" all the time. Anyway. I got asked my opinion on this particular Meghan with an H natural wine, which I happened to quite enjoy. I said, "I dug it". And then this person proceeded, as expected, to say that for the money they'd rather be drinking something else from somewhere else.

How do you know if a person does CrossFitâ„¢? Don't worry, they'll tell you.

I do my best to see the qualities in every wine that make it salvageable at the lowest common denominator. That's fancy for "find something positive in every wine". But to further illustrate the point, when I am not jiving with a certain wine, I try to imagine someone drinking it who might be. I imagine serving the wine to someone else who says it's great. I try to think of people who love eating at places I hate going. I try to think of people who hold beliefs that I find repulsive. I try to think of old, crusty, white guys trying to assert their control via law over the female biology. I usually stop right around there and reconsider my purpose in life and wonder how drinking wine could ever help this pandemic of human stupidity. Nonetheless, the aforementioned crusty white guys still represent beliefs that I can't understand, much like many people I encounter who have a hard time appreciating anything that they aren't already intimately familiar with. Does that make sense?

Most times when I am not jiving with a wine, I do my best to take a step back and realize that sometimes, the wine you don't like just happens to not be the wine you were looking for in that particular moment.

Sometimes, wine can represent some rancid beliefs and politics, too. However, I try to go easy on them because I don't want to further isolate the person who might have started out drinking Menage-a-Trois, even with someone famous like Ornette Coleman or Jerry Seinfeld, and ended up like me.

The only difference is that I never drank Menage-a-Trois with Jerry Seinfeld. He took off when we brought it out and just said:

"That wine sucks."

Too bad. Ornette thought it was great.

That's how close they are.

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