My Plea To End The Wine Abuse; Can We Build A Community?

​Reflections, opinions, and the raging war I am beginning against wine professionals.

I wrote this blog last year, but man, it doesn’t get old….

I’ve been in bed for the past two days with a head cold. The “liquid coming from all places, freezing/heat flash, I want my mother” head cold that hits us all in our 40’s. Feeling a little better, I decided to catch up with my IPhone when I received a text from my crossfit/lifting pal. “One rep max tomorrow – can’t do it without you.” Weak, congested, and pissy with boredom, I needed to make a decision on what to do. I went to the gym.

You may be rolling your eyes, and my mother is about to call me after she reads this, but my mind was clear on what needed to be done. Why do I feel the need to support a community or an individual? I can admit, some of it is selfish: I get a stirring in my belly when I think of accomplishing a difficult lift, or a project that may seem impossible. However, that is not what gets us all out of bed when we think of creating a buzz, or pulling our weight on a team. Part of it is our moral compass; that voice that screams at you to get yourself in gear and remember it is not all about you. Has anyone every told you that you are measured by those you keep company with? I’ve taken that advice in the last few months and thank goodness I’ve organically come to a very positive place.

Sadly, the wine world I live in doesn’t always match up. The green monster of “who knows more about what” seems to lead every education class, sales call, wine dinner, wine list, and even schematics of a new store or restaurant. Are we that obsessed about being right or wrong? Is there even a right or wrong about what you taste or experience? You all know the individuals I am talking about. There is an air when they walk in trolling their bottles behind them. The suit is a little TO perfect, they scoff at the glassware they MUST use (god forbid they bring their own), look for something “suitable” to spit into (for gods sakes, you are spitting!), and do everything imaginable to shrink you down in size. I have witnessed this behavior way to long and have decided to send out a plea to all the “wine professionals” out there. Slow your roll, stop this nonsense, take the bottle out of your ass and come back down to earth. If you haven’t realized this yet, our business shifts with the seasons; the competitor you embarrass today may be your supervisor tomorrow. For those of you that don’t need to deal with the snobs of the grape, look for the following signs;

“When it comes to wine knowledge, I’m a solid 10”. Ok, you aren’t and just stop this. I interviewed with a VP of Wine Operations yesterday, and he told me he is maybe a 6. The reason I chose this career is because I will never wake up and know everything; that is the beautiful challenge. If within a retail experience you find this clerk, call me and we can have a good laugh.

“My wine list won a Wine Spectator award, and has 20 wines by the glass, and blah blah blah…” Stop listening if you are in a restaurant and you are involved in a conversation like this. The objective of a wine list is for the guest to feel comfortable and make a suitable choice for the evening, their budget, and their dining experience. Look for lists that are written progressively; this is where you will see flavor suggestions such as “Rich robust reds” or “Crisp and light whites” (restaurant suggestion – Pure in Parsipanny). If you have no idea what the wine by the glass selection is, or you have never had it before, ask for a taste. Most restaurateurs will revel in the chance to explain why it is on the menu!

“This wine received 92 points from the latest wine rag, so obviously it is good.” Bravo for the wine rag. That tells me I should be listening to someone else’s opinion on what I like to drink. Does that make sense to you? Sure, reviews are great and important. We all would like a little guidance from people that make it their business to analyze. Look further into the review; often there are “wine notes” that can tell you more about the vineyard site or the winemaker. Check out the shelf talkers in your retail stores – they are great “silent salesman” to guide you in making a choice. Buyer beware though; sometimes they are just pretty words on a fancy card.

“2014 is going to be a great vintage, but not as good at 2001, and do you remember 97, and how about the 03’s in….” Mother nature is the all-knowing factor on what will happen within a vintage year, but do we need to make this so difficult? Let’s simplify – When it comes to white wine, drink what is out NOW. 2001 Chardonnay may be a very bad choice. Reds can vary. If you love the tannic, deep, dense reds, then get ready to spend a few bucks and buy that 07’ from Tuscany (if you can find it). Most of us like the jammy, ready to drink reds between 10 and 15 dollars – think new world (California, South America, New Zealand, Australia) and wines within the last few years. ( I would keep my distance from 06 and 2010) Lately, Oregon is busting out with a lot of goodies…

This is a discussion that can continue for many more pages, as I’m sure you can imagine. I just ask that, as wine professionals, we lead by example and get over feeling good about making others feel stupid. This goes not only for our words, but also for the actions we put into place. Yes, stirring the pot counts as well. When you get the chance to humiliate others, take a moment and think about what you want your legacy to be.
Can you guess what happened at the gym this morning? My lifting buddy increased her weight by 20 pounds, and accomplished her goal. She had it in her the whole time.


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About Me

It doesn’t take magic to transport yourself through flavors and stories. This is what keeps me up at nights; what narrative does wine have to reveal to me, and how does your experience begin a journey I can help host. My name is Susan, and I am just like you; curious, full of nothing but love, and ready to learn more.

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