I have found myself time and time again, pretending to know way much more about the wine in my glass than I could ever know. To make things even worse, I’m certain in this futile attempt, I come off looking even more out of my depths than I really was.
Hours later, after every occurrence, I would hate myself for having been so insecure in my lack of wine knowledge and image that I would not take up the opportunity to learn from the person standing opposite me, who would instead be watching me drown in my nervous pool of sweat… I hate that Tom. Every time he arises, a bit of my soul is viciously torn piece by piece never to be whole again. I feel the urge to jump back in time, grow some chest hairs and slap that little boy around until his ego was set in place.
But for some reason, the need to seem knowledgeable in wine causes numerous people, likewise, to speak out in ignorance using a few predetermined phrases to “get by”. I peg it down to the fashionable aspect of wine. On the one side, it is its saving grace as it is an aspirational drink that signifies I’ve made it or I am sophisticated. Therefore a perpetual market is born. However, on the flip side, we see many “Tom’s” desperate to impress while rather remarkably hurting themselves in the process.
The best way to learn about wine is to be humble; a virtue you learn all too well the moment you truly begin to learn about it. It is made unquestionably clear that you know absolutely nothing about the subject matter, and will probably spend the rest of your life trying to learn as each region, variety, canopy management technique, disease, yeast strain, root-stock (you get the picture?) has an altering effect on the wine. You also learn to pick up a lot from your interactions; be it with a wine maker, critic, waiter or average Joe; all with their different takes. The key is to listen to what they have to say and if you disagree propose your alternative point of view and have a discussion about it. At the end of the day, wine can be a truly intellectual encounter, which for me makes it the most entertaining part of all.