Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Cautionary Tale - The Insolent Sommelier Pt. VI (finale)

“All things must pass, none of life's strings can last.” – George Harrison

Forwarding to the present day, where we must end this story, for now. Segundo is no longer there; he was let go, claiming he is still “consulting.” For all we know, that’s just a cover for his inability to admit it’s over. Saving face. OK, let him have his little charade. It can’t hurt anyone except himself.

What concerned me was that he used Italian wine, in his role, to assert his personal power over others. It wasn’t like he was the first person to do that (how could he be – he is Segundo!), but the way in which he used people and power to populate his social network, it seemed misguided. I’ve seen others who’ve gone against the wine gods, and it usually didn’t end well for them. Remember, we’re in the service industry. We’re here to serve. We did our best to serve Segundo, but his heart was closed and his motivation always seemed to be adumbral. He was insecure, and he projected his fears and doubts upon those of us who came to present and provide. Talking about biting the hands that feeds you!

But that is all in the past now. Segundo is just one of many players who try to use shortcuts to achieve their goals. Ask any winemaker about shortcuts and they’ll tell you how well that works in the vineyard or in the winery. It’s a slower process.

So, what’s the overarching message here? The lesson? 

Well, for me it was one of patience. I never got through to Segundo to help him. But I knew I didn’t care to coerce or intimidate him. Not that it would work. No, that wasn’t my mission. At the time, I felt it was my role to expand Italian wine as far and as deep as I could, in this missionary land of the flyover country of America. It was hard enough just to get a decent espresso in this place, let alone convince a curmudgeon to embrace a more mellifluous bearing. Segundo has his old rugged cross to bear. Best to get out of his way. He was his own worst enemy. I could have compassion for a human who I could see going down a dead-end path. But I couldn’t save him from himself. His best bet might be to get out of the wine business and open up a trendy taco shop.

That was Segundo’s lesson to me.

So, now what? Now, where? 

For myself, I’m done with selling water by the river. I’ve found my little eddy, and am on to other things.

As for the Segundos of the world, it’ll be up to the men and women in the trenches, chipping away, day after day. Italian wine didn’t get where it is magically overnight. But it did get where it is today because of the thousands of dedicated (and ardent) souls who saw a light at the end of the tunnel. 

50 years ago, Italian wine was a joke, a caricature. We had our little organ grinder, and our monkey, and we were playing our jingle-jangle, out on the streets, for anyone who would stop and listen. It wasn’t pretty, but it contained a kernel of the metamorphosis Italian culture (and wine with it) would be going through. And many of us still living, went through it, bathed in it, and even, at times, luxuriated in it. But it wasn’t without its nicks and scars.


So it goes...

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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