Monday, December 08, 2014

Small People ...

"Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine." - Fran Lebowitz, Writer and Humorist 

When I heard this quote a few years ago, at first I was offended. Hey, I love talking about wine and I don't think I am "small" other in height of 5 feet 2". I try to keep a very open mind when it comes to social matters, new ideas, and generous about change, but I am also far from perfect.  A few weeks ago, this quote popped up again in an article I was reading. Once again I thought about it and I think I finally get it - - I think.  

Now I understand this is done with classic Lebowitz humor, but it does carry some significance. First of all, I need to clarify the majority of the people I know in the wine industry, or other wine lovers who talk about wine are not "small people."  The majority of the winemakers I know have earned their badges. They are adventurous, generous, hard working, love to gamble with Mother Nature, and roll along rather bravely with whatever cruel hand she deals them. 

Sure, there are a few "Vanity Labels" out there. They are often people who do not live in the valley, but seem to think the natives are just "hill-folk," and they (the vanities) will often sashay in with their wine (that someone else produced), and mark it up to an extreme price - - and why? The answer has been, "If Gary Figgins of Leonetti Cellar and Christophe Baron of Cayuse can price their wines on the high-end side, then so can I." 

Is this what you mean by "small people," Fran Lebowitz? For the record, Gary and Christophe earned their stripes by  working in the "trenches," so to speak and can claim their prices since their wines are at a demand. 

There's a certain type of wine consumer who claim they are wine connoisseurs, but tend to limit themselves when it comes to exploring wines.  They have put limits on their wine tasting to either: 1.) Largest and fanciest wineries (because that means a fanciful built winery's wines have to be good, right?) or 2.) The consumer will only go to wineries where wines consistently get scores of 95 and above (because these consumer's think their palates are the same as Parker, Steiman, Laube, to name a few ...) and 3.) Newbies who will only visit wineries who produce just red wine while they ramble on and on  they hate Merlot, but ramble on and on about their prized bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc.  

Is this what you mean by "small people," Fran Lebowitz? It seems to me that if you tout yourself as a wine connoisseur, then your mind should be open, instead of closed, to being adventurous about wines. Who knows when the small garagista you ignored may be the next highest scoring wine and now you won't be able to have one of their rare and limited treasures in your cellar, let alone bragging rights of stating to your friends, "I knew them when ..."

I try to tell people all the time not to limit their palate if they are truly a wine lover.  An example: I am not a huge fan of Semillon. I prefer it when blended with Sauvignon Blanc or even  when paired with food, but for me to request a glass of Semillon I won't do it. However - - when out tasting and if there is a sample to be poured of Semillon, I always-always-always try it. One never knows that someday I may encounter a Semillon that I will truly enjoy. Dammit, I don't like that chocolate wine crap either, but I sampled it, and kept an open mind. Conclusion. I like chocolate. I like wine. I just want to keep them separate.

Now there are a faction of folk who need to polish up their manners. Name dropping is tedious. Okay, so you don't have to keep bragging over and over to the tasting room staff that the winemaker is your very best friend or you dated Robert Mondavi's neighbor's sister's housekeeper's fourth cousin, either. When there is a crowd of visitors at a winery and in line to taste, don't keep blabbing and hogging the winemaker or attendant pouring the wine. Step aside and let others have their turn. If you are invited to attend a very special event and you are also in the wine industry, leave your bragging at home. Don't schlep your ribbons, trophies, diplomas, etc and try to make the event all about you. Create your own event during your own time and then make it all about you. 

Is this what you mean by "small people," Fran Lebowitz?  People with no manners? 

There are also wine bloggers and wine writers whose main objective is to slam other wine bloggers and wine writers. It's been done. Enough. We get it. You are self-loathing so you take it out on others. 

Is this what you mean by "small people," Fran Lebowitz? All I know is if I owned a winery, I wouldn't want these kind of bloggers/writers to rate my wine when the preceding paragraphs were all about trashing (bordering slander) wine bloggers and writers, and especially trashing their innocent family and loved ones. Not cool. Unfortunately we also have wine bloggers who go on wine blogging junkets and abuse the hospitality of wineries by not attending the scheduled functions, preferring strip joints instead.   

I think for the most part that if you are a wine loving "fly on the wall" and you listen to a group of professionals in the wine industry or a group of educated wine geeks, you are in for some of the best conversation you will ever have. If you listen you will learn a lot about science, romance, weather, growing conditions, plant biology, and even get in touch with your own palate.  The conversation is hardly coming out of "small people." Perhaps Fran needs to extend her group of wine people she has been hanging around.  


Megan said...

What an odd quote from Ms. Leibowitz! I would beg to disagree with her but she would consider me a small person probably. I always think the most cultured people talk about wine. I grew up in a "dry" home and knew nothing about wine until I met my husband. He began to educate me about grapes and the older I get, the nicer it is to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day. I love talking to him about wine details such as color, smell, type of grape, region grown in, year of wine, etc. Even more fun is planning which wine we will serve with our meals. Maybe Ms. Leibowitz isn't a foodie and this is where her annoyance with wine talk stems from? Who knows?

I live in Seattle but would love to visit Walla Walla and do some wine tasting someday. You have a lovely blog and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Megan //

wild walla walla wine woman said...

Thank you Megan for checking in. Please do visit Walla Walla, I can guarantee you will enjoy your visit. And about Ms Leibowitz, I am hoping that she wrote this with her usual sarcastic humor and not in fact. But none the less, it makes for great conversation ...

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