According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, democratic is defined as: relating to, appealing to, or available to the broad masses of the people. According to me, wine is (or should) relate to, appeal to, or be made available to the broad masses of people. Everyone should have the ability to enjoy wine! A few hundred years ago, wine was only enjoyed by royalty and the upper crust of society. Now we live in a world where we can get a bottle of wine at the 99 Cent Store (which I have seen!), buy a bottle of Two Buck Chuck, or a box of Franzia!
This is my manifesto against snootiness and pretension in the world of wine. I detest when people judge others on the wine they drink. My belief is that there is a time, a place, and an audience for each and every wine in the world. This includes the aforementioned cheap stuff, that I’m sure you are wondering if a Somm would even drink. The answer is going to be no at least 99.99% of the time. As a Somm, you become very much in tune with your palette and what you like/don’t like. I can guarantee you that I will not like those wines. BUT someone will……and that’s ok.
Wine tastes come and go. Why is it ok to judge someone who drinks an oaky, buttery chardonnay today, but it was perfectly fine in the 80s? Why did people start sticking their nose up to merlot in the early 2000s after the movie Sideways came out? Just like fashion, the times do change and what is popular does as well. If your mom loves her white zin, then dammit, let her enjoy it! Though, I’m not opposed to introducing her to some other dry or slightly off-dry roses on the market! But that might be too much to ask! Some people just like what they like……and I’m ok with that.
There is something funny that I have noticed since I started my wine studies. People around me feel that they can only serve me nice and/or expensive wines. I can’t tell you how many times I have been over at a friends house and they apologize and say something like “So sorry, this is all I had” or “I’m so embarrassed……you’re a sommelier and this is such a bad bottle of wine”. Newsflash: I’m still a normal person! I don’t drink only 90+ rated wines or only Premier Cru Bordeauxs. In fact, quite the opposite. I love wine. Like LOVEEEE wine. I don’t always want to take it so seriously and study it. Sometimes I want a nice easy drinker with a bowl of spaghetti. And if I do want to geek out on wine, taste something obscure and use my “Systematic Approach to Tasting” as we use in class, I can guarantee that is not going to happen at a friends house on a Friday night!
So, the take away today is #1 to not be afraid to give the sommelier wine. We’re regular people and are just happy that you invited us over! And #2 don’t judge people’s wine preferences. You too once drank the Chianti out of a bottle with a basket on the bottom (see picture above) or you added some ice cubes to a white that wasn’t cold enough. We’ve all been there! Cheers!
Stay tuned for Friday’s post: How to Open a Bottle of Wine. There are many ways to get the vino from the bottle, but I’ll show you the “right” way so you can look cool in front of your date!