Modello’s advice columnist Kathryn Borel is the author of Corked: A Memoir 


At a recent dinner party,
I heard the host call a friend of mine a varietalist when he refused to drink Chardonnay. Is this a dirty word?

It is. The Canadian government has formed a Human Rights Commission to address the scourge of varietalists, and I’m sorry to hear your friend has fallen prey to this fatal line of thinking. If he did this in my house while I was serving him dinner, I’d revoke his visa to all future dinner parties. 

Varietalists believe that a certain type of grape has the exact same objective flavour profile no matter where it was grown, who did the growing, how it was treated after it was crushed, and who is drinking the wine. Then they discriminate against that type of wine. But a Merlot grown in the soil and sun of the Languedoc region of France by a winemaker who has her own set of biases and predilections is going to taste markedly different from a Venetian Merlot grown by a cool relaxed Italian who loves la dolce vita. 

Imagine if we applied that line of thinking to human beings, based on their heritage? This has never happened in history to human beings of course, but I bet it would be pretty ugly and unpleasant if it did! Haha, phew, we’re so civilized to one another, thank goodness.