Vine varieties – like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah – predominately serve as terms for a given wine’s stylistic character. Varieties – in our world – are also still implicitly used as markers of quality; some are noble, some proletarian. One unintended consequence is a distortion of demand for fashionable varieties, revelations about the constraints on supply, and the inevitable degradation of value. Of course this feeds a cycle of fashion, and many of the good things we drink today arguably illustrate the benefits of this creative destruction.

Varietalism has always been a gross simplification. And now, in the age of DNA testing, we are beginning to learn just how misleading this regime has been.

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