The Audacity of False Experiences

Sunday, April 12, 2015

So, I have need something to inspire me to write, with so many other things going on in work, freelance projects, and the pursuit of launching my own wine label.  Well, it inadvertently came to me within the past week.  You see, I have been trying to frame how to start getting people, especially those of color, to start discovering the wonderful world of wine, and while I have written two pieces which I haven’t released, I also realize that it’s not something that I can accurately capture in a small article (one is about seven pages and the other is maybe half of that).

My inspiration was that someone said that I insulted them in a conversation which took place over Facebook in regards to wine.  The defense to this person’s stance from a mutual friend was that they have been drinking wine a lot longer than me.  And that belays the whole thing in regards to false experiences and perceived knowledge.  The simple fact is that there are a ton of people whose range of experiences falls in such a narrow band, but they [and others] believe that it is truly something to be marveled at.

My life has been an interesting one so far, and one thing that I have always known is that people who only look at the world, or things in it, one way are some of the most ignorant people out there.  If I say that wine is like a woman, I can then tell you that if you only look for a specific type and consume only that, then you really know nothing about women.  If you have the money to purchase high-end sports cars, or those with some high brand respect, it still doesn’t mean that you know a bunch about cars or even the art of driving.

In the world of wine, there is always something new to learn and you have people whose tastes are dictated by what other people have said are the best wines in the world.  If you have been reading, you know that I have a problem with the idea that the French are the best in the world in regards to wine and food, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT.  It amazes me how many people are label-whores and more to the wines of France.  This is not to say that there aren’t some wonderful French producers, but they don’t hold exclusive control over what a certain grape should taste like, or that the best wines in the world come from them.  It’s actually tragic and pathetic how many people have to posture that they are erudite in regards to wine by constantly referring to certain French wine producers, labels, areas, or wines.

So, let’s get back to the issue of someone having been drinking wine for a lot longer than me.  Does this really matter at all?  Not really, because if you factor in the variety of what I have consumed over the past fifteen years of my life in regards to wine, the levels of each, and my exploration of learning more about wine on a more detailed level from various countries (United States, Italy, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Moldova, Portugal, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, South Africa, Uruguay, Georgia, China, Israel, Lebanon, Greece, etc.) it would pretty much destroy someone who has only focused on Bordeaux, Burgundy, California and Washington State.  I am not a whore to the prattling of Robert Parker or The Wine Spectator.

Hell, them being insulted actually insulted me, because in the end, they thought that there was no way in hell that I could possibly know more than them about wine.  It reminds me of when you find someone who is a black belt in one martial arts form, but they are like a fish out of water when coming up against a practitioner of another style.

As an African American [who is also a wine vivant] I felt pissed because instead of asking why I said what I did, or even researching what I said [and ultimately finding out that I was right and they were wrong], they immediately jumped to being offended. 

Newsflash #1: It was two American wines that bested French wines in the “Judgement of Paris” in 1976.

Newsflash #2: Italy used to be known as Oneotria, which means “the land of wine.”  I have a penchant for Italian wines.

Newsflash #3: I probably drink more wines at one industry event than you drink in several months, if not the whole year.

Drinking wine for years doesn’t make you an expert, and honestly there are no experts in the world of wine. There are some people with varying degrees and levels of knowledge, but anyone who has truly been around knows that outside of the laws which are set in regards to certain wines, it is impossible to know everything about wine.  I have come across restaurant owners, bartenders, sommeliers, and more who have shown that they have more ignorance when it comes to wine as what they normally know has only been in regards to what they have been exposed to, and their experiences have been really quite limited.  Remember, at one point in time people thought the earth was flat. Oh, and Petit Sirah is not related to Syrah in any way, Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, as are Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris.  And there is no such thing as American Champagne or Chablis unless it comes from Renault Winery in New Jersey.  Yeah, and Port only comes from Portugal, so stop drinking that Taylor’s crap!

Summarily, you should not be afraid to get more exposed to wine, and while there are certain rules, there are a ton of people who think that they know more than they actually do and simply want to come off as more sophisticated than you.  Oh, and don’t worry about a maître d or a waiter telling you that you made a good wine selection; chances are that they are merely repeating what they have been told and have not tasted the wine themselves with an open mind and an experienced tongue.

My only thing to tell you is to put down that damned sweet wine.  No, it doesn’t go with most foods and drinking it doesn’t make you a connoisseur either.


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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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