I read a lot of literature on wine. If you know me personally, you know that I carry around a wine-related book in my purse, so that I can read about wine for that 10 minutes while I’m riding the train to work. Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible is getting to be a bit heavy to trek around with…
As of late, I’ve been indulging myself on the vine-hopping stories of Jay McInerney in his book A Hedonist in the Cellar.
In between his tales of sipping Condrieu while in the Rhone Valley of France or having dinner with Michel Chapoutier, McInerney does conjure a very big truth about wine: it is always, and always will be, accessible.
Wine accessibility? So freakin’ what, you say?
Well, you see, I’m always struggling to find that sweet spot for talking about wine snobbery (see here, and here) because I think we, as wine lovers, have a duty to help others feel more comfortable with the libation we so proudly sip & savour. Wine snobbery is alive and well, and I, personally, can’t help but be excited to spread that enjoyment. (Hey, you don’t know if you really like something unless you try to understand it!)
Wine accessibility is important, and I’ll tell you why in a few moments, but first…
Winelover, how many people have you heard say the following? Choose all that apply:
a) “I don’t know anything about wine”
b) “I don’t understand wine”
c) “I don’t drink wine”
d) “I’m not good at tasting wine”
e) All of the above
f) All of the above (plus more)
Recall in your mind the impression that these comments left you with. Chances are good that the reason that folks were saying these things is because they don’t feel wine is accessible to them. I get it. Not everyone needs to like wine or drink it for that matter, but how many of those people might actually want to learn about wine but are simply too intimidated by it? Confidence plays a big role in this, and in my experiences, all it takes is a little understanding and guidance.
“[Wine] can provide intellectual as well as sensual pleasure; it’s an inexhaustible subject, a nexus of subjects, which leads us, if we choose to follow, into the realms of geology, botany, meteorology, history, aesthetics, and literature. Ideally, the appreciation of wine is balanced between consumption and pleasure on the one hand and contemplation and analysis on the other.” [pg. xiv, A Hedonist in the Cellar]
My suggestion for you, winelover, is a simple one. The next time someone says one or another of the multiple-choice options in your pop quiz above, which I’m sure you passed with flying colours, help dismantle his or her fears by creating that accessibility. Help that person make the connection that wine is not just all about the extremely specific descriptors of brioche and vine-ripened golden kiwi that may sputter out of our mouths. Wine is, at the very least, about enjoyment, and at the most, about connecting with the world around us.