If you were teaching newcomers to wine, what would you tell them?
Whenever I’m asked to speak in front of a group, especially in a place such as Singapore where wine is just becoming an object of intense interest, I always point out that being an American is an asset.
This cryptic comment always draws quizzical looks. Being an American, I explain, is an asset because we know what it’s like to be a newcomer to wine. We know what it’s like to not know.
I mention this here because there’s been some snickering about those boorish Asians who allegedly add soda pop to their insanely priced Château Lafite Rothschild. Yeah, probably someone did such a thing and it got written up. Or maybe it’s just an urban legend. The reality, as best as I’ve seen so far in trips to Japan, China and now Singapore in the past five months, is something more akin to what we Americans were like just a few decades ago.
Until the rise of wine culture in Japan, and now China and Singapore, we Americans were the world’s greatest tribe of wine newbies. Most of us didn’t grow up with wine. My parents never drank wine. Indeed, they didn’t drink anything alcoholic except an occasional cocktail at a party in order to be “sociable.” I’ll bet you anything that the same could be said for most of your parents, too—at least if you’re old enough to be in the Baby Boomer cohort.
The key point is this: Most American wine lovers are almost as new to wine as most Asian wine lovers are. I don’t know about you, but I remember vividly the bafflement of wine: all that label lingo (in French no less); the seeming arbitrariness of pricing; the snobbery; the humiliation of facing a big wine list in a restaurant skewed to exorbitantly priced wines. Do you remember all that? I’ll bet you do.
So when I was at a dinner in Singapore recently, in front of a group of wine newbies (mostly anyway, as best as I could tell), I tried to convey what I thought wine newbies should know. I didn’t put it that way, mind you. Nobody likes to think of himself or herself as a “newbie.” It creates a needless, and condescending, separation. After all, everyone begins as a newbie. Even you. Even me.
Here’s what I tried to tell them… click here to read full article