Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Learning the Joyful Truths" - How wine elders can help today's young wine lovers

"I'd suggest that many young wine drinkers do not have access to the great benchmark wines, the paradigms of profundity that are alas beyond their reach financially. They never learned the joyful truths of hierarchy, or to be stirred to their depths by the greatest of wines. They presume on a level playing field in which most things are equally valid. Sometimes this bothers me too. But I think we need to love them, not scold them." – Terry Theise
Life, I’ve learned, is four parts resilience and six parts patience. If the red wine is made well and is allowed to rest in the cellar, the rewards will be greater. And as with wine, why not with the youth who are embracing the life of wine?


I was a single-dad. I didn’t have a lot of time to waste. I chose being a dad, willingly. But I needed a job. Not a profession. A job. I got lucky. I landed in wine. But along the way, there were teachers, encouragers, people who had the kindness and the patience to bear with the many mistakes I made. I also got very lucky in that I was exposed in a very unself-conscious way to great and profound wines. I really have to take a moment, from time to time, and look at my notes. Did I really get to taste the 1900 Graham's? The 1931 Quinta do Noval eluded me, but the 1935 Taylor and the 1927 Cockburn didn’t. Likewise with Burgundy, with Bordeaux, with Mosel, Loire, Old California. And then there was Italy.

No, this wasn’t a competition. It was a love affair. And I had come upon it accidentally. With all the talented people from the sommelier community these days, if I were starting out, I’d never be able to experience what I did coming up in my time. And the youth of today, where are they going to get those classic and benchmark experiences? So why are we faulting them for finding a little wine from the Jura or the Eldorado Hills, Friuli or Sicily, and falling in love with them? They’re only human. They thirst to learn the joyful truths. They are just starting out. Why are we not doing more to encourage them to reach higher, to try anything and everything? Surely they will find they can enjoy a Ribolla from Friuli and then they can fall in love with a Chardonnay from Puligny. Why not?

Elisa Scavino is one of those lucky ones. Growing up drinking her family wine, what better way to train her palate and learn to love the wine from the land she grew up on? But that appreciation spreads to other places. Look at her Delectable site, she’s falling in love with trocken Riesling one day and Marsannay the next. She is learning those joyful truths.

I’ll try anything. And when no one is looking I’ll drink Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett or Lambrusco di Sorbara as readily as I would an Hermitage from La Chapelle or a Vermentino from Lodi. If life were fair, we’d all have our own personal Darrell Corti to press bottles into our hands and tells us a little story or two. We had them when we were young. And now the young ones need that too.

“I think we need to love them, not scold them,” Terry Theise states. He gets it. The next 30 years will go as fast as (or faster than) the last 30 years. And that was like the wiper on a windshield. Gone, wiped clean. We need to lend a hand.

Somewhere in Sonoma a mad man writes me: “I have taken to calling your blog, ‘Wandering Off the Point On the Wine Trail in Italy.’” Yes, guilty as charged. I’ve run up on shore just like that little cruise ship off the island of Giglio. But really, who needs to know what I think about a Tuscan white that someone sent me as a sample? It’s not going to sell wine. It’s not going to help many (or any) consumers. There are other depths that need to be stirred.

I can’t fix Italy. What I can do is reach out to any and every willing young person who wants to know more about wine. They call me the “Oldest Millennial” at work. Bucky Fuller would have been my choice but he left Spaceship Earth right about time the real oldest millennials started coming online. What the elders of the wine world need to do, more than worry about their Twitter followers or their Google+ sphere of influence, is to get face to face with the youth who want to love wine and more kinds of wine, and give them the time to help them develop their very own joyful truths.



 written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

3 comments:

James Biddle said...

confession--I'm a neo-Luddite who generally detests technology. I start this way for two reasons: I think many wine writers try to create a "virtual" experience with their notes: "read this and taste." My favorite enoteca in Firenze in very old-school: "taste this, then we'll talk." The young of all ages need to feel the power of the relationship created by tasting then talking about wine. Love your "wandering" posts.

Do Bianchi said...

one man's meat is another's poisson... great post...

Anonymous said...

Terry Theise's complete comment on ebob:

Bob's piece, read in its entirety, is somewhat different than the cartoon some have sought to make of it.

I wouldn't have expressed myself quite as he did, but I agree with most of his basic positions. (Too mad he's so wrong about Blaufränkisch....) I think, as I have said before, that we "elders" of the wine world are bound to be irked by the callowness we observe among young wine people. But it's their job to be callow. We were too, and we outgrew it because we were encouraged and brought along by our elders, not shamed and flamed and accused.

I'd also suggest that many young wine drinkers do not have access to the great benchmark wines, the paradigms of profundity that are alas beyond their reach financially. They never learned the joyful truths of hierarchy, or to be stirred to their depths by the greatest of wines. They presume on a level playing field in which most things are equally valid. Sometimes this bothers me too. But I think we need to love them, not scold them.

Bob repeats he is a "consumer advocate," and while this is certainly true, he is also, at this point in his life, a Lama of wine, and I believe he would do well to consider what is the best way for his (mostly) legitimate observations to be heard. Otherwise he's just another geezer fussing about the young people and the world they're taking down the tubes.

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