Helps the medicine go down//The medicine go down//The medicine...go down
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down//In the most delightful wayyyyyyy
The fight. The battle. The argument.
I've been through a few of those. Fortunately, they've all been verbal or internal, and sometimes both. Touch cork, but I've been fortunate enough to avoid the altercative physical arts up to this point in my life.
I think an argument is lost when an individual's tone becomes to challenging for the opponent to handle and they end the interaction as a result. See, I've done enough barking up unreceptive trees to know that sometimes, trickery is required to land your intellectual plane on someone else's runway.
A spoonful of sugar. I believe it was Chaucer or someone of the like that once stated that the highest form of humour was to deliver an insult in such a way that the victim believed they were being complimented. Or something like that. But there's definitely something there.
I once had a MW / Near-MS (I didn't ask...don't worry, they'll tell you) who was employed by wine industry juggernaut E&J Gallo try to tell me that Apothic Dark, the extra colour-added black looking syrupy sibling to Apothic (made by Gallo) was a really important and valuable tool for getting people to start drinking wine. I called bullshit at the time. Now I don't know how I feel. The one thing I can confirm is that there's more than a spoonful of sugar in a glass of Apothic. Maybe one day they'll come out with Apothic Dry? Now I'm having too much fun.
Was he right? I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who said her perspective changed early in her career when one of her wine instructors proclaimed to her bushy-tailed students to stop scoffing at people who were drinking YellowTail™: just be happy they're drinking wine.
The first cases of wine I went through were crap. And look at me now! I run a wine blog and I love doing it. I will literally drink any wine you put in front of me, including the aforementioned bottles.
I just want to learn and understand. It's that process that I enjoy, and it starts by embracing it when it's actually in your mouth.
But I didn't think this when I started drinking wine. Or did I? Did I need a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down?
I suppose if we follow Ms. Poppins' advice here, then we assume that a portion of Apothicarriers who literally have Apothic or other ketchup wines on perpetual repeat will eventually get bored and want to branch out, perhaps sliding gently into a good bottle of J. Lohr or Toasted Head.
Forgive my cynicism.
What is the spoonful of sugar when it comes to wine? And what would we consider medicine?
And more importantly, how can we get to the point where we just make it all go down?
Sugar. Medicine. I think the point of Mary Poppins was that the "medicine" is necessary, but it's not always comfortable or fun. Sprinkle in a little "sugar", and voila: the medicine isn't so bad. You could apply this literally to medicine and sugar (I hide my dog's medicine in his delicious food every morning). You could say this is akin to "whistling while you work". Maybe throwing on your favourite Whitney Houston album while you clean the house.
But does this concept insinuate that real wine or serious wine is hard to drink for some people? Are we saying that we should baby the newcomers?
My mind harkens back to the story my mom tells me of when I was 3 or 4 years old sitting in a car seat in the back of her van.
"What did you just say?"
Mom seemed frustrated. I chimed in from the backseat. The children always know what's going on, even if you think they're too young to understand. I never got the spoonful of sugar with the F-word, and I still learned to love it and use it. Often. Even my dog seems down the day after wifey & I have an argument. Fortunately for us, those are extremely infrequent.
There's so much here. Thank god we have a podcast now as well, because we need all the words we can muster to unpack this idea.
My mind is just whirring around like a psychotic and misshapen-yet-extremely-well-greased hamster wheel right now. I just don't know where to begin.
So, I am going to ask you.
What made you like wine? Do you remember the first time you tasted it? Did you ever see somebody who made you want to drink it? Was it a concept that got you into it? Did you want to be part of a group of sophisticated wine people so badly that you were willing to accept anything?
See, as much as I get frustrated with people who blindly consume icon wines or huge brand type wines and proclaim to love them even though they might not have a broad framework for understanding them, there is something good in there.
They want to feel that they are a part of the community that this wine symbolizes so badly, they are willing to fully accept its character, whether they can place it in context or not.
A hip city person goes to a natural wine bar. Do they know anything about natural wine? Were they drinking Menage-a-Trois or Cupcake the night before? WHO CARES? They made it into the natural wine bar and are now drinking something that we can at least ascribe some level of authenticity to. Cool, no?
With all of the resistance to the natural or low-intervention wine movement ("the wines are flawed" "the wines are too funky" "normal people won't get it" and on and on...), it seems like people, and not just wine people, are getting it. People are fucking into it, dude.
They're also into the Little Penguin sometimes, too.
So, assuming that low-intervention funky wines are the medicine and difficult to appreciate, what's the sugar? Is it the design of the bar? Is it the people who hang out there? Is it the sexy bartender who you would literally drink anything off of *ahem* I mean anything? A spoonful of sugar.
What about reds from Piemonte? Barolo. Barbaresco. I think these are some of the hardest wines to understand and appreciate, and I see a lot of enthusiastic wine drinkers fall short of seeing the magic. But I bet you if they went to Alba during truffle season they probably wouldn't have a problem falling in love with these wines. A spoonful of sugar.
And what about Two-Buck-Chuck? How does a spiffy somm suspend their disbelief and go back in time to an era where they were just the only guy at the college house party with a bottle of wine, just because he thought it was funny? Something tells me that a beach and a hot date would make that Two-Buck-Chuck taste prettay prettayy prettayyy good. A spoonful of sugar.
There are literally one million ways to frame a situation and turn it on its head. People do it for us all the time- that's the moment when we have to have something we didn't know we needed until we were pitched perfectly. Nobody thought a drive-thru restaurant was necessary before the first one was invented. Somebody said: hey, you need this. And the concept provided a service by saving people time. Nobody thought they needed lululemon yoga pants before they were invented. But then people realized that they were the most comfortable, functional, best fitting product in their category. They provided a service.
Every wine out there is providing a service. Ultimately, the greatest service a wine can provide is for you to enjoy it. Maybe some wine producers out think that non-wine drinkers literally need a spoonful of sugar added to their wine to make it seem less like medicine. I am an advocate for speaking to people in honest terms, showing them the real stuff, and letting them come around to it. I am also comfortable at the end of the day if some people do want a proverbial spoonful of sugar added to their wine. I think I just wish that taken literally, we had some more honestly made and healthier products out there that could do this for people.
As for Ms. Mary Poppins? I want to believe that good ol' Mary was getting at what I'm getting at.
I think she's a purist. And I think she trusted those kids to figure it out for themselves.
She just set this example:
Keep your spirits up. Whistle while you work. Take a childlike approach. Look for the humour.
Frame the situation in a different way.
It helps the medicine go down.