“Just sending funky rhythms right down ya block, We be to rap what key be to lock… But I’m cool like that, I’m cool like that, I’m cool!”
Growing up where I did, wine wasn’t exactly considered “cool”. See, I was always led to believe that wine was for women, the elderly, and the rich. Men were supposed to drink beer, scotch, maybe whiskey, but that was about it. The fanciest drink ever associated to a man was a martini, and it’s “shaken, not stirred” of course. When my mom wanted to be ‘fancy’, there was a box of Franzia blush wine in the china cabinet filled with plates and glasses we were never supposed to touch. “Uh-oh, she’s breaking out the Franzia! We can finally use the nice glasses!”. Everyone would have a good laugh and we would go about whatever we were doing. So ever since then the association in my family and household to wine was a tease. Naturally, for the longest I assumed it was not “cool” to drink wine. I mean in my neighborhood older kids were finding ways to steal their dad’s beer. Sometimes, they would even get into that scotch or whiskey cabinet. Now that I think about it maybe the fact that wine was a bit more difficult to open or that it was served in church took away some the allure and edge.
It was not until I began my career as a server in the restaurant industry that I became familiar with wine. I mainly found an interest in it once I realized that if I sell it I make more tips. In addition, the more expensive the wine, the bigger the tip. Once I was introduced to fine wine and saw what those cost, I knew I had to get my game up. I grew up in the Wu-Tang era and beyond in hip-hop. There was no wine influence for that culture whatsoever. Snoop Dogg wasn’t rapping about “zin -n- juice”, and if I recall correctly Diddy and Pharrell weren’t singing, “pass the cabernet”. I honestly cannot recall many if any references to wine in the music I grew up on. Vodka, champagne, tequila, cognac were all common references, but wine was unheard of.
Through that work experience I found myself finagling my way into tasting expensive wines somehow. Once I got my first taste of that world I immediately felt the need to continue my experiences with wine to learn more about them. Light, medium, full body wines. Merlot, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc. Damn this was difficult! Soon enough if I went out on a date, I would order wines just for the extra knowledge. Well to be honest sometimes it may have been to impress my date that evening. I even noticed when I was out with a few of the guys, and I would be looking at the cocktail menu, I would be completely stumped on what I was truly in the mood for. The server would walk up, and we all know that feeling when the spotlight is on you at the able and you are uncertain. In that moment some unfamiliar instincts kicked in, I look up, and out my mouth comes, “Do you have any wine recommendations?”. Every head at my table turns, mouths drop, and I could have sworn I heard the record on the jukebox screech to a halt. That is when it hit me, I’m a wine drinker! These experiences led to wine recommendations for the food I was ordering. Who knew that even mattered? Wait, so the food I eat dictates what wine I should drink? I remember thinking this doesn’t get any easier does it? However, I was determined, and honestly, the food did indeed taste better with wine.
That’s how my passion for wine started. I can say I was fortunate. Mainly due to the desire to make more money, I found one of my deepest passions to date at a very affordable cost. Now, I want more like me who lack the traditional experience with wine to the way I do to enjoy it with me. You don’t have to dress a way, or only pair with meals some of us would have to save for. You definitely don’t need to speak the language of wine with words you can barely pronounce. Don’t raise an eyebrow at me for enjoying wine with a quarter pounder.
So now I have my duty to knock down the walls of the wine culture. I want us common folk to guiltlessly enjoy some Shiraz over some wings and nachos while watching the game, or reality if they want. I want my guys to be able to open a mini box wine while tossing the football around at the beach, and my women to make wine the go to while enjoy a festival. The goal is to make it perfectly acceptable to bust out some vino whenever the hell you want. In my thirty something years on this earth I’ve I learned what defines cool is doing what you enjoy regardless of anyone’s opinion. I have been told I’m the hero of wine. I actually like the sound of that.
I think the world of wine as we know it is overdue for change, and that takes unique individuals to push that narrative. So drink from the wrong glasses if you want. Mispronounce words and phrases. Hell sometimes I do it on purpose! Most importantly, pair wine with whatever food you desire. There are new views, ideas, and things to consider on the horizon. So lift your glass in one hand, and laugh at any who may frown, this is #fordacultcha!