Some parting advice about learning about wine | Blessed Is The Pour | Indy Week
Pin It

Some parting advice about learning about wine 

My only baby boy will slide into a plastic chair in a classroom in a few days to take the first in a string of tests that will punctuate his public school career. This one aims to help his new teachers size up what he's learned in his first five and half years on Earth.

While I want him to do well, I'm opting against any intense review of letters and numbers for fear that thoughts of a test might loom too large in his mind. I want to make this school year—and all those that follow—about learning to learn, not about acing the test.

If writing a wine column for the past five years has taught me anything, it's that an eagerness to learn trumps an enthusiasm for being right almost every time. That, and you can't turn cantaloupe into drinkable wine. You just can't.

I wrote my first wine column shortly after my son was born, when I was a newly minted food editor. The publication needed wine coverage, and nothing available from national writers seemed crafted to help readers become smarter about making their own wine choices. Most wine writers seemed content to show off their own smarts while dropping some label names for readers. I volunteered to fill the void.

I had been drinking wine for a long time but would never have considered myself an expert. I still don't. So when people find out I write a wine column and ask, "So, what are you drinking?" it always feels like a pop quiz. When I was new, I feared giving the wrong answer. I thought I should say something like, "I'm devoted to Washington state Rieslings these days. They are really coming into their own," when the truth was closer to, "I found this Chilean sauvignon blanc in the cooler at Kroger for $9. I had to stop there because I needed dog food, too."

As the column continued, I came to know that I didn't want what's in my glass to be my calling card. I wasn't writing for people who already knew the answers. I much prefer conversations to start with, "What should I do to learn about wine?" It gives us so many more places to go. That's the question I've tried to answer for myself and readers for the past five years.

As you may have guessed, this is the final installment of "Blessed is the Pour." Adventures await in the next chapter of my family life, so it seems like a good time to turn the last page here. I'll still be writing about food and wine and other things for the Indy, just not in a monthly column.

Becoming a wine columnist made me a better thinker, as well a better drinker. It compelled me to contemplate what was in my glass, why I liked it and the story of how it got there. At the risk of sounding like "Everything I Need to Know About Wine I Learned in Kindergarten," here's the short answer to the "how should I learn" question:

Ask questions. Sommeliers and wine shop owners should be like teachers, willing to help you learn.

Make up your own mind. Don't let anyone tell you what you should like.

Embrace your choices, even if they're unpopular.

Be adventurous. You might not always pick a winner, but you never know.

Look beyond the labels. Find out what's inside.

Above all, have fun. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.

This article appeared in print with the headline "A test you cannot fail."

  • Ask questions. Sommeliers and wine shop owners should be like teachers, willing to help you learn.

Latest in Blessed Is The Pour

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Blessed Is The Pour



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I'm not sure why you are so bent out of shape over the marketing of this wine. Look at any …

by Wino on Skinnygirl talks down to women (Blessed Is The Pour)

My husband and I have visited unWINEd many times and we love it! Ray and Joni are are so friendly …

by Stacy Elaine Gray on Unwined is worth the detour (Blessed Is The Pour)

I'm so glad they are finally open- I always saw them hard at work whilst I was frolicking around Glenwood. …

by Wakeuplistenup on The Raleigh Wine Shop gets its foot in the door of the Triangle's vino scene (Blessed Is The Pour)

Your article notes a location near Morgan Street. The Raleigh Wine Shop at 126 Glenwood is actually located 3 blocks …

by jasdelaney on The Raleigh Wine Shop gets its foot in the door of the Triangle's vino scene (Blessed Is The Pour)

I liked this a lot. Embedded in this story about wine is a bigger story about friendship. Thanks for this, …

by Barry Yeoman on In choosing a new wine, take the risk (Blessed Is The Pour)

Comments

Everything very unprofessional. They just want to charge you an "revolutionary fee" with all the service making pressure on you. …

by feullies on Blue Note Grill (Durham County)

Simply the best caribbean food in town!

by prince on Golden Krust Caribbean Grill & Bakery (Durham County)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation