Back home, in the span of a week, I've come across a lot of people looking for wine. It is my job to try and make that wine Italian.
A young man comes up to me looking for Pinot Noir. “What in heaven’s name do you want with Pinot Noir?” I ask him. He can’t really say. “It’s that damn movie that’s got you wanting it, isn’t it?” He looks at me like I’m nuts. Funny. I can see the headline: “Introvert goes insane, and starts peppering the subway with Montepulciano.” And that is exactly what I do. I hand him a mid-range bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and send him on his way. How did this introvert become so assertive?
Sophia Dembling could inform me. Her book, “The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” is the survival guide for anyone who is or lives with an introvert. As for me, I’ve had to learn how to force myself out of my cave and mingle, only to crawl back in before the batteries die.
A lady looks at me with a sad little bottle of Prosecco. It’s $9.99. “I’ve tried Prosecco and want to like it but they are all so sweet.” I know how hard it is for her to say it; she’s also an introvert. I hand her a bottle over the $9.99 barrier ($16.99) and off she goes back to her cave with hope in her heart. It’s all so very simple.
Eventually, after we cannot find the Chianti that he has fixated on with his phaser, I ask them what they are looking for. And then, it isn’t the score or the tasting note that matters. It’s the relationship. “Take this nice little Chianti Classico," I said. "The son and daughter I’ve known since they were babies and I think of them as my Italian children. They make lovely, sensitive thoughtful wines.” I am nowhere near having to run back into the cave because my batteries are dying; I’m recharging off the cave-man’s iPhone, something the NSA will have a hard time de-encrypting.
One doesn’t need to go to Italy for the experience of feeling Italian. And for introverts this is a good thing. A glass of wine can be a transformative experience from the comfort of one’s own cave. It’s a survival skill that introverts learn. Sit in the corner of a party and let people come to you. Hang out in your home and let Italy come to you. This couldn’t have happened 100 years ago. We’re in a Golden Age for introverts. And Italy is glad to soothe your pain, improve your dinner or make your evening a little less dull and lonely. Introverts get lonely, you ask? Of course we do. Not as much as extroverts, but we seek the warmth of companionship. We are first and foremost, human beings. The wife of the cave man craved a story, a glimmer of light and warmth. The story of the young kids who grew up to make the Chianti they were buying helps a little. It would also help if her husband would put down his toys for a minute and look her in the eyes. Yes, we introverts are a nosey little bunch. We crawl right into a scenario and suss it out right quick.
No one ever said it would be easy being an introvert in a world dominated by bluster and bravado. But this is where we were planted and we must grow. Thanks to a little quirk in the fates, Italy and Italian wines can make the magical spaceship ride a little more fun than the subway down below. And it can make even the most hard-core extrovert a little more tolerable. Of course, you better have a bottle of Brunello ready for them.
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