Thursday, October 20, 2011

Good People

If all "wine folks" were like these, we'd all drink wine.

Fair to say, a good portion of the non-teetotaler crowd avoids wine altogether.  Why?  It's confusing, expensive, and often intimidating.  A botched purchase could prove displeasing to the palates of the buyers, or- even worse- cause embarrassment and shame.  Embarrassment and shame, over just trying to entertain, be generous, or get a little weird.

The blame can be pointed squarely at "wine people".  The one's who constantly come to the table with, "it's sparkling wine, NOT Champagne", or "you don't smell the redolence of Bartlett pear??!" or "I'm relaxing in my villa in Tuscany".  And, yeah, I'm probably guilty of all of them.  Except replace 'Tuscany' with 'the sticks outside Atlanta' and 'villa' with 'upside-down starter home'.  Oh, and I'd spend the rest of the evening trying to kick my own ass if the word 'redolence' ever crossed my lips.

Point being, it's all too easy to make wine inaccessible to others.  Even the people out there trying to "demystify and take the snobbery out of wine" are slinging bullshit like "petrol on the nose".  In America, Riesling smells like gasoline, okay?  Often, we (yes, we, myself included) don't even realize the damage being done.  We've been taught by other "wine people", thus adopting- then passing on- bad habits that keep many at a  precautionary keg's length away from our wonderful beverage.

But, once in a while, I run across folks who I believe could get anyone to enjoy wine.  

After spending seemingly a few fleeting moments with Ben "Benito" Carter and Samantha Dugan in Memphis over the weekend, I knew there was hope for my surly disposition.  These two extraordinarily beautiful people-

Benito, the epitome of gracious and accomodating host, renaissance man extraordinaire, gastronome, elder statesman of wine blogging, and...

Samantha, a lovely, delightfully snarky, soulful as hell, heart-on-the-sleeve wine slinger, Champagne/Loire zealot, and damn fine writer-

well, they've done about the best job advancing wine that I've seen in a while.  There were no attempts to show off how much they knew about the subject matter.  No wacky descriptors.  Absolutely zero "snobbery", if I may overuse an overused word in this context.  

Standing in for the unpleasantries were:  storytelling, jokes, endless conversation (lacking any sort of pretense, or filters for that matter)... there was downright conviviality.  And food and wine on the table. Bringing people together.  It's a hackneyed theme around these parts, but one so important to the advancement of the beverage I love, nay, to the advancement of humankind in general...

Maybe that's a simple prescription to the woes of the world, but I've never seen a bottle of wine and some good food not bring folks together.  And, once we start talking to each other again, we get back to true 2-way communication.  Whether that be in-person, or via the virtual villages of Facebook, Google+, blogging circles, etc., our genuine conversing with one another harkens back to a time of community.  People would gather to tell stories, share ideas, collaborate, and enjoy the comfort of the herd.  Community satisfies basic human needs, and too often we shun these needs in the name of convenience and efficiency.

A bottle of wine, a bowl of bread, and wonderful people are the telltale signs of communion.  And I'm damn honored to have these two as a part of it, as our conversation will no-doubt continue and grow through the amazing technology we have at our fingertips...

...provided those fingertips are clasped around a glass of fermented grape juice.

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