Thank you to all the wine professionals who actually care about helping others appreciate wine more, in a fun and unpretentious way! I’m pleased to notice this is becoming a more common trend throughout the wine industry over the past several years. So if you can add to the conversation, leave a comment, I’d love to connect!
I write these words from a warm place, in the context of my formal WSET education and industry experience, a route I chose largely due to the douchebaggery associated with other well know certification programs and the pompous wine buyers I have encountered over the years. I know many very cool, down to earth sommeliers, but let’s be honest, it’s just that French word that seems to add a touch of ” je ne said quoi” … douchiness?
First I should say, I do believe most of the pretentious vibes people give off are based on their insecurities and lack of real and helpful knowledge (possibly small penis syndrome, who knows)… but this is not a psychological post so we won’t go into all that… I just want to have some fun and elevate our wine experiences as a whole!
When I was taking WSET classes at the International Wine Center in NYC, I made great friends studying and preparing for exams. We had amazing times discussing cheap to expensive wines, obscure hard to get wines to classic mainstream varietals, and learning every step of the way. I will never forget those special aged bottles of Bordeaux, Port Wine and Madeira!
I also met people who just wanted to sound smarter than everyone else, most of the time they weren’t. It was almost as if they believed that getting a wine certification gave them a right to be a douchebag. Through my 20+ years in or around the Wine Industry, I also met many certified Sommeliers who absolutely exuded an aura of complete magniloquence. It never made me feel uncomfortable or inferior, rather confused and uninterested.
I don’t see how any amount of knowledge in any profession justifies treating other humans as inferior. Maybe I have a soft spot for humanity, but more importantly, I don’t see how being a douchebag actually builds you up and makes you feel important? Nobody cares what you know until they know you care, right? I guess you actually have to understand that concept to get it though. Stop acting smarter than people and enjoy the wine, enjoy the process of gaining and sharing the knowledge, enjoy the company of people who actually can appreciate your knowledge too!
I’ve always wanted to educate people about wine and how to buy better quality wines at better prices. That was always valuable to me as a wine buyer. If I can find that sub $20 bottle that tastes as good a $40+ bottle, I win. This does more than just make me look good at parties. This ultimately elevates the industry. Better wines become available to everyone who wants them, not just the people who can afford to drink the best wines in the world. It enriches wine culture, and life. I can afford better wines these days, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share them with people I know will appreciate them, but I still taste hundreds of wines in all different price ranges from all over the world in search of the best values to bring to new wine consumers.
I don’t like to call myself a Wine Expert or Sommelier. I prefer Wine Consultant, Wine Educator, Wine Edutainer… or even just the Wine Guy that can teach you a thing or two. I understand if you need to put a label or title on it to justify giving your attention or credit, but those titles really can be quite meaningless without the experience and personality to back them up.
None of my mentors had fancy degrees, hell, none of them even had wine certifications that I knew of… if they did, they didn’t need or talk about them. They gained extensive wine knowledge from their passion and experience constantly tasting new wines and actually paying attention to what they were seeing, smelling, and drinking. That is what it’s all about.
Sharing passion for wine with humanity, as humanly as possible.