So here’s what I don’t get: when did wine get so snooty? Humans have been drinking the stuff since ever since any of us can remember. If familiarity breeds contempt, then we should be snotty to wine people, not the other way around. They make it all over the world now, just like cars. And we Americans love our cars, but we don’t tell people to pick a car for us because we don’t know enough about them. Sure there are an overwhelming number of choices of different wines out there, but you could say the same about sodas, and I don’t see anyone taking classes to learn what kind of Coke they like. What’s the big deal? It’s grape juice that had a brief affair with yeast and was never the same since.
Honestly, whence the mystique?
Anytime I tell people I “know about wine,” they gasp and stand back as if I told them I were telepathic or a member of the aristocracy. This is, admittedly, a reaction I enjoy more than the reaction I get when I admit to a past life as an English teacher, which is that 90% of the world thinks it necessary to explain that they can’t diagram sentences and hated trying to learn. (I love to diagram sentences, but I never force it on anyone.) Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the two reactions are similar: guilty consciences. “All this time I’ve been drinking wine, and now a real life wine expert catches me in the act! OK I give up! I admit it! I don’t know what I’m doing!”
Hey, there’s a big bad wine world out there that doesn’t choose to tell you what the slosh in the bottle tastes like before you buy it. There are magazines and online wine clubs and wine writers that profit by your ignorance because the wine establishment, while saying it wants your business, wants it only on its own terms: you drinking what you’re told. I say, and many say it with me (shall we all say it together?), let’s think less about what the wine means and more about what it does in our mouths. Wine biz, tell us up front what you’re selling us, and don’t tell it to us in points. Points are for sports. (And while you’re at it, would you make it easier to open? Cripes, every bottle that used to be closed with a cork in ye olden tyme (perfume, whiskey, oil) is now provided with a closure that doesn’t require special equipment or skill to broach.)
Gracious, how would any normal human being learn all about wine if she weren’t completely obsessed with it, or in the business itself? I say, you don’t need to know everything about wine to know what you like to drink. And, I say, that is the purpose, the raison d’etre of wine itself: to please you. The wine that does not please you has failed, poor darling. I dream of a world where we’ve learned to pair the right wine with the right person, and everyone drinks what they love without the haunting feeling that they’re showing ignorance by simply enjoying what’s in their glass.
It puts me to mind of the old e.e. cummings poem, “pity this busy monster, manunkind” which ends,
listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go
In this blog, I plan to write about wine I’m tasting, wine events I attend, and wine-related subjects I enjoy. As I do so, I hope to encourage you, gentle reader, to find the wines you love, drink them, and enjoy doing so. Who’s with me?