Updated: Mar 9
Hey...it's cool. I got it.
Who hasn't bullshitted their way through a wine conversation before? I remember in my early days having heard of Château Latour and then getting excited to try it when I saw the name Louis Latour on a $22 bottle of Pinot Noir from some place called Bourgogne. I think I even mentioned it to someone, who probably cared less than I was trying to and therefore thought nothing of it. I assume. I hope. I remember someone later talking about Château Latour at a wine tasting and trying to nod along like I knew exactly what they were talking about.
Little did I know of the myriad distinctions between the book of producers with Latour somewhere in their name, never mind the difference between the largest producer in Burgundy and one of five (four?) truly iconic red wines from Bordeaux.
What an idiot.
And what a fertile time to reflect on. It's kinda like when Donald Fagen was singing like Jerry Lewis for a while there. Only that he was cool when he was doing that. I now try (and fail) to check my initial reactions to things I know nothing about against this former version of myself, reminding myself of the moron bubbling somewhere beneath the surface of ego, pomp, and blind hubris. There's an obvious lesson here, and unsurprisingly, it has to do with two things essential to catapulting oneself from someone who wants to appear to be knowledgeable and someone who is interested in obtaining knowledge. The lesson is on the topic(s) of:
Why would we want to express anything else (other than hilarious barbs and one-liners, of course)? Why would we talk loudly, exaggeratedly, and likely inaccurately about a wine experience we had that might make us seem like insiders, even though from the outside, it clearly doesn't make us special? Why would we relay the fact that we have a friend who has a huge collection of "expensive" (and likely one-dimensional) wine? Why would we show the world that our idea of quality has more to do with how much a specific bottle costs than the subtleties, stories, and intricacies of what is actually inside that bottle?
Why would we nod our heads and say, "oh ya" when we have no idea what is being talked about?
Why wouldn't we just tell the truth, in turn inviting someone to share new information with us, and accept that new information with humility?
Little John. He always tells the truth.
When you're seeking a mentor or hoping to glean a few hot licks off of someone with a glass in their hand, holding like a transcendental mantra straight from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi the intention of building on your own addled library of oenological knowledge, it might help to look out for a few tells.
Just to make sure you're not talking to a bona-fide blowhard.
If your potential wine-yoda utters anything that sounds like the following, immediately reach for the nearest full spittoon (maybe after you're all vaxxed up), chug it, pay your tab, leave a tip, and RUN!
I saw Paul Giamatti do something similar in a movie once. But did you know he also did this?
"Look at the legs on this."
Come on. That just means there's alcohol in the wine. Thank god.
Refers to anything other than Pinot Noir as "Pinot".
Invoke the lesser "Sideways" rule here: "Pinot", when used endearingly, is never a savvy sipper's reference to your latest bottle of Santa Margherita™. There's only one thing that "Pinot" refers to, and it's that sweet little thin-skinned heartbreaker. No, not Gris, not Grigio, not Blanc, and certainly not Auxerrois. Alright, I've had enough of myself. Next.
Goes on about great value wines from Napa, Burgundy, Bordeaux, et al.
Do you know why it costs $500 to see The Rolling Stones?
Because everyone & their tiny horse wants to go see Mick Jagger wiggle his miniature bum down the catwalk during Start Me Up. You're not special for wanting to witness this physics-defying act alongside 60,000 of your closest, most interesting friends, and if it ain't you, well, Mick has a legion of foaming fanatics ready to pony up a few + a few more Benjamins to take your place.
Wine from iconic regions, meaning regions that everyone who doesn't even drink wine already knows about, is as good as trying to find a deal on a renovated 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo with 2 parking stalls, storage, in-suite laundry, a nice patio, a pool, a gym, and low strata fees for less than a cool million. In Vancouver, at least. There are few, if any deals to be had unless you're a real and serious nerd, and at that point, we wouldn't even be having a conversation about spotting a chest-puffing imposter. If this clown thinks they've found a deal, they're either rolling in so much dough AND thirstier than me at Mac's Club Deuce All-Day 2-for-1, or it's that the cheap shit they're drinking from these regions is truly the swill of jesters & punters. If it was that good and said Napa or Burgundy on the label, it wouldn't be cheap. And if it's from either and it's that cheap, there's few paths to which it might possibly be good.
For the record, I am dying to fork over $1000 to take my honey down to the local football stadium to watch Mick embark on a seizure-like journey across the stage to the tune of any number of solid-gold hits. Just as much as I'd be dying to fork over a cool million for a nice 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo with a huge deck. If I had the money, of course.
Will I feel like I got a deal when it's all said and done?
That's between me & Satan. Sorry. I meant me & Keith. And despite our best efforts, the ability to spend money on high-end experiences doesn't make us any more interesting or capable of appreciating them on a deep, meaningful, and contemplative level.
But keep trying.
Nods. Agrees. Immediately changes the subject to an unrelated, well-known wine from their past.
If you were uncomfortable diving into the finer points of the lyre vine training system, you could have just said so instead of launching into a soliloquy about that guy you know who ordered all that "Dom" in Vegas that one night. And how you have a hard-on for Armand de Brignac (I'll never resort to calling it the Ace of Spades because I feel too proud at the moment, although of what I'm not sure). And how you visited Antinori on your vacation to Italy and tasted Solaia and Tignanello and how "that's real wine". If I was interested in escapades like this, I'd just invite LeBron James onto my podcast.
Dear LeBron James,
Please appear as a guest on my podcast.
I'm wearing Chanel No. 5.
Wearing perfume at wine tastings was so 2019. Although, who really cares anymore? Since it's not part of the LVMH portfolio, I'm quite certain that the electromagnetic pheromones that No. 5 emanates are guaranteed to clash with any and all wines, especially since its parent company owns ZERO champagne houses. Peasants.
Try wearing Givenchy next time.
"Hey I love Duckhorn. Did you know they went public?"
Actually, I just got the news!
They're wearing bad sneakers (click me goddammit).
Katy, I know you're lying.