“So lets just stay in the moment
Smoke some weed, drink some wine
Reminisce, talk some shit, forever young is in your mind
Leave a mark that can’t erase, neither space nor time
So when the director yells cut we’ll be fine”
-Jay Z feat. Mr. Hudson, Young Forever
Well, its been a little over a year now since I’ve been documenting my journey within the wine industry. It should be said that I have worked in the restaurant business for 12 plus years, consistently being a lead in wine sales in every location. I’ve never kept my knowledge to myself, I’ve always made sure to develop and train hundreds of servers in the process. I went into this journey with a strong foundation of knowledge about wine, but within this year alone I’ve amassed more knowledge than I have my entire career. I now wish to share all of this with you as the journey continues.
You see, I’ve sat through countless hours of wine seminars, listening to sommeliers, wine connoisseurs, and liquor vendors. They tend to go on and on about what they’ve memorized from a piece of paper or class, and just recite it over and over again. They’ve taken what someone else decided was important for them to know and just regurgitated it back into the world. This always made me feel the wine world lacked perspective and unique interpretation. No one wants to tell the wine expert, “Hey, no one really gives a damb about malolactic fermentation” It literally turns into the teacher talking to The Peanuts as we sit there waiting until its time to drink. It was important to me to figure out for myself, what made me passionate about wine exactly, and share that with the world. So, even if people didn’t share my thoughts, they found comfort in creating an interpretation of their own.
Just like any industry, there are politics within the wine industry and culture. There are publications and critics that have controlled the temperature of the industry for generations, due to being pillars in the culture. Winemakers line up from all over the world hoping that maybe, just maybe, these people will drink their wines and speak favorably about it. Winemakers have even manipulated the flavors of the wine just to appeal more to them. Imagine a world of wine that solely caters to a handful of people’s taste buds? It also seems like at times without the right backing many young vineyards are stranded hoping to be seen. And, if I am being honest sometimes the backing won’t do it either. So when you see bottles with ratings on them, know you’re feeding a system, not necessarily the culture. Those ratings are also used to drive up the price point as well. But don’t worry young jedi winemakers, through the power of social media the only approval you need is that of the consumer. Get your content game up and the wine industry is your oyster! Many wine brands are still yet to master how to leverage a quality social media presence, which is where the future of the culture is rooted.
Another pleasant surprise for you folks is, the price of the wine doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of it. In many cases, the price of the wine can speak to the marketing, rarity, or reputation. There are great wines being made by lesser known winemakers in lesser known regions that have a burning desire to make a name for themselves within the industry. In the process, you get these wines at a premium. The catch is, just like in love, you have to kiss a lot of frogs and turn over a lot of stones. In the meantime, you get to drink a lot of wine, which isn’t so bad either. With a little bit of research and background knowledge on the lesser known regions and their strengths, you can find some bomb ass wines that may not cost you more than $10.
One of the most pleasant things I’ve learned about the wine industry is that it’s not as pretentious as we’re led to believe. Sure, on the surface are some looking to control the narrative of the culture, but know that those people are harmless. Once you get past that layer, there’s a community of wine lovers that are dying to meet new people and hear interesting and new perspectives about wine. The winemakers themselves, are especially interested in growing the culture and demographic. If it was up to them, we’d be tossing ping pong balls into solo cups of Merlot and doing keg stands of pinot grigio. I myself witnessed the push back first hand from the industry when I first started putting out my content. Now, my whacky videos, multi-cultured magazine wine column and random food pairings are sought out and imitated throughout the industry.
Wine culture has lit a fire in my passion for travel. Learning that great wine doesn’t just come from France, Italy and California. I now seek out wine from places that I never had an interest in knowing about. Now, I desperately wish to visit countries like South Africa, Austria, Chile, Croatia, New Zealand, and so many others because of the wine I’ve tasted from these parts of the world. I truly believe where there’s good wine, there’s great food, beautiful land, rich culture, and interesting people.
The last bit of information I’ll leave you with is that the wine world is in desperate need of culture. I was led to believe that an understanding of wine instills culture within people. I could not have been more wrong. In fact, it’s the people that instill culture within wine. Wine lacks diversity. It’s not a color issue, it’s a personality issue. Have you been to a high end wine tasting? Everyone looks the same, acts the same, talks the same, and dresses the same. We are programmed to not stand out within these wine crowds. Wine is an art as well as a form of expression in my opinion. It’s no different from music, dance, painting, fashion, food, and so much more. Wine is what you wish to make it. It is supposed to create debate and emotion. We now live in a world of inclusion and representation. The wine world needs more of us who are willing to help kick down the walls of this box wine has lived in. It needs, new voices, new opinions, new drinking games and recipes.
I can promise you that reading this article is not as fun as it was experiencing the content within it. I don’t encourage you to just drink more wine. I encourage you to seek change within what you were led to believe about wine. Remember, wine doesn’t make people, people make wine!