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The Vocal Minority and Mass Psychosis

I ventured out to do some shopping yesterday, went by Trader Joe’s and the mega-club store, the parking lots packed to the edges.

Charles Shaw stacked high at Trader Joe’s and Cameron Hughes Lot 111 in the Sam’s Club complete with a demo gal eyeballing me anxiously, ready to pounce with her pitch.

The store aisles were jammed creating a haphazard navigation course of carts and kids, difficult to traverse.

Apparently, many people are not participating in the global recession.

I got to thinking about this after the stimulus package passed, which, by some accounts, may be the most expensive advertising campaign ever to influence the largest demographic.

The good news and the bad news about our media, both online and offline is they can present a potentially distorted view of the world while influencing groupthink.

A random sampling of consumers of media would say that, “yes, we’re in a nasty recession.”  A random sampling of wine blog readers would say, “yes, online wine consumers have a distaste for the 100 pt. system and fruit-bomb New World wines.” 

However, truth be told, my drop in consumer spending is a reaction to the unknown and the news. Separately, a vocal minority who likely do not represent a larger public propagates the reports of a Parker backlash.

It is the lunatic fringe, the vocal minority, which influences and creates mass psychosis. 

Sure, times are not great, particularly in the business climate that contributes to our gross domestic product, but surely, they cannot be as bad as some of the news outlets would lead you to believe.

Amid reports in December that this might be the worst holiday season EVER, consumer spending dropped just 1%. 

Just 1%

I am no economist, but most of this economic distress seems terribly interrelated and most of it is based on fear of the unknown.  Businesses cut jobs because they do not know how bad the economy is going to get, and it is difficult to bet on growth with a tight credit market, while consumers cut spending because they are afraid for their jobs.

Nobody wins.  Somebody has to break the cycle.

So, here is what I am recommending on the occasion of “Open That Bottle Night” on February 28th. 

Some quick background, first:  “Open That Bottle Night” was started 10 years ago by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal, as an event that allow consumers to stop saving that special bottle of wine and just open the damn thing and drink it—a noble thought if ever there was one to seize the day and live in the moment; Carpe Diem for wine lovers predisposed to waiting a decade to indulge, the anti-thesis of the here and now.

Similarly, in these economic times, as consumers, all we can control is our contribution to consumer confidence and that is mostly by spending. 

Therefore, it seems like “Open That Bottle Night” would be better served as “Buy That Bottle Night.”

For “Open That Bottle Night,” which I have now hijacked and dubbed, “Buy That Bottle Night,” I implore all wine consumers to head to their local wine shop and buy the most expensive bottle of wine they can, take it home, and pop the cork and savor, get lost in the company of others and your own thoughts.

Even if you spend a $100, well, hell, you cannot take it with you.  You can always regale your kids later on with the time Mom & Dad went out and bought and drank a very expensive bottle of wine in the midst of the millennium depression just because …

Your wine shop will appreciate the purchase, the economy will appreciate it, and you will appreciate it for a bit of recklessness that feels indulgent.

Do not let the vocal minority lull you into the security of consumer conservatism, break the shackles of cellar tyranny and buy your way to freedom, particularly in wine, where your wine shop will be glad to sell you a special bottle of something for “Buy That Bottle Night” instead of scouring the cellar for the dusty, musty gem.


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