I’m going to take a break from boring all six of you who read this with my harvest updates and talk about an epiphany of sorts that I’ve had while out here. Part of coming out here was giving myself the luxury of hours in a car to think about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Many trips out to vineyards and a few back to Seattle have definitely fit the bill.
You, me, anyone who might read this are already probably wine people, lovers of wine, certainly. We’ve been indoctrinated into the cult. We love wine. We respect it. We’re constantly seeking to know more, for the most part. We’re part of an (incredibly insular, inward-looking) expert community, or aspiring to be part of an expert community. We’re all into wine to differing degrees, but for the most part, it’s considerably more than the average bear.
Many of you who have known me for a while have heard me bemoan the fact that there are not many places in my quarter of Brooklyn where I can drink a decent selection of wine, whether by the glass or the bottle. I’ve had more than a few discussions with general managers at some of the most happening joints in North Brooklyn and they say they simply can’t sell wine over $50 a bottle, unless it’s champagne. Even then, it’s got to be an entry-level, multi-vintage Grande Marque.
What’s the problem here? It’s certainly not disposable income. The amount of drinking and frivolous money spending that occurs in North Brooklyn is certifiably ridiculous: the Trustafarians abide. Now, I’m not saying there’s nowhere to find a serious wine list in North Brooklyn, just few comparably to adjunct neighborhoods like the East Village. So, what’s the problem here? Chicken or the egg? Push or pull marketing?
The ultimate answer is that if there’s no demand for a product or service, the market won’t create it. I’m sure 10 years from now, things will be different in North Brooklyn, but then what about further outlying neighborhoods? Who’s going to agitate for this change and how are they going to do it?
Wine is intimidating, but what if we (those of us who work in and love wine) could change that? Shouldn’t everyone be able to drink better wine? A rising tide lifts all boats, and so I think that if we, as a community of wine workers and lovers could spread our fever and enthusiasm, we would all drink better, not to mention supporting the humble winemakers who make delicious, quaffable wine across the world. The ones who make serious, expensive wine have already covered their bases!
The problem is that people don’t perceive the value of wine. It’s not that they’re incapable of it – this is the worst sort of religion, the crime that’s been perpetrated on the would-be wine-drinking public – it’s just that no one has bothered to empower them, and that, unlike us, they haven’t had their own personal come-to-Jesus moment with wine. They demean themselves. “Oh, I can’t tell any difference between them.”
A lot of this has to do with careless treatment of wine in many establishments which leaves them drinking wine that’s been open for too long, served at the wrong temperature, in inappropriate glassware by staff who, for the same reasons, couldn’t give a shit either way. These people view wine indifferently because it’s treated as undifferentiated.
At the same time, it’s ridiculous to think that they average person (who has a job, kids, a mortgage, numerous other logistical concerns) should have to learn about single vineyard sites in the Mosel, oak regimens in Rioja, or Champagne dosage in order to drink good wine. What if we could give everyone a book that could be read in an hour or two which would immediately improve the way they looked at wine, a sort of Tim Ferris 4-hour wine book.
Is this dumbing things down? I don’t think so. It’s merely recognizing that we all start at zero and that most people don’t care as much about wine as we do, but would still like them to drink better on the regular. How do we convince them not to pick up some weasel piss beer, vodka, or an alcoholic energy drink when they want to get a buzz on? Hell, if I could even get people drinking more Yellow Tail and Charles Shaw, that would be better in my book. It’s a direction. It’s a movement towards a society that considers wine as something for everyone, not just bougey sons-of-bitches like you and me.
That’s an important mission for me, and I think I’m aiming to do something about it. What do you think?