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Looking Back on 2008: Days of Wine and (Sometimes Dead Black) Roses

As we begin 2009, and start the time-honored tradition of incorrectly dating the first few bank checks of the new year, I find that I sense a bit of a rant coming on.

And this coming just after I wrote about relying on gratitude and attention (a.k.a. mindfulness) to help you truly appreciate wine as an expression of art (both the wine itself, and your enjoyment of it, for what is a wine without someone to enjoy it but so much unfulfilled artistic potential?).

Shame on me.

But it will end with love. I promise.

I think there is another component to enjoying wine that needs to be added to those I outlined in the post linked above, and that component is Gumption.

You will need grit, spunk, guts, and determination to get past the detractors, nay-sayers, and general sourpusses that you may encounter along the way on your journey to wine appreciation. Don't kid yourself - they are out there, and they must have some stake in keeping the average Dude and Dudette from appreciating fine wine, because they take any and every opportunity they can to screw it up for you. They do this either by telling you that your opinion doesn't count, is naively misguided, or isn't worth a hill 'o beans because it doesn't conform to some arbitrary standards that they have set forth themsleves.

You really need to ignore these people. They are like an illness that infects your wine appreciation, and if left to fester can kill it outright. The kicker is that the world of wine is so full of wonderful, generous, and pleasurable people that it would be a shame to let a few bad apples spoil the bunch, as they say.

I mention this because I lived through it in 2008. Well over six months later, so-called pundits are still talking about the Rockaway non-incident (more on this - both background and aftermath - can be heard on WineBizRadio.com). The only thing I can offer at this point is this:

For those of us who are wine writers (and I include any serious wine bloggers in that company), we need to remember something - We write about wine. It's not that important, and neither are we.

No, really. I'm serious.

It's just wine, people - it is NOT saving someone from a burning building, curing a wasting disease, or landing a crippled airplane. We so need to get over ourselves...

Why on earth am I drumming this topic up again? It's just to show that whenever you put yourself out there, take a risk, or try something new, you will run the risk of people (usually the ones who haven't done anything themselves) putting you down.

The wine world is no exception. Happily, for every detractor in the wine world, there are at least 10 great people who will help you, share their knowledge with you, and cheer you on.

How do I know this?

I've spent the better part of 2008 trying to expand as much as possible my knowledge of wine, be it through winery visits, reviews and sampling of fine wines, seeking wine certifications, or just hanging out with great writers, contacts who have become real friends, or talking to movers & shakers in the wine world. In a word, it's been amazing.

So many great things have happened for me since I opened up my own personal world to the world of wine that it would be literally impossible for me to recap them in one blog post. My world is exponentially larger and more full of joy for having hit the wine road with almost reckless abandon. You don't need to bring a thing with you on this journey - plenty of people are willing and waiting to help you along your way.

I simply cannot imagine my life without my wife, my daughter, my music, and now my contacts in the world of wine. If that's not a testament to all of the wonderful people out there working in wine today, then I don't know what is.

And for that, I will always be deeply grateful for 2008 - warts and all!

(images: sunsetgun.typepad.com, dailyphotobutcherfortheworld.blogspot.com, polyvore.com)


Jeff (Good Grape) said...

Great post, Joe. Likewise, wine writing and the folks I've met along the way (like you, for example) are a part of my DNA.

Good stuff, here and best wishes for an awesome '09!


Joie de vivre said...

Happy New Year. May this one have fewer warts for you!

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, Joie de vivre!

Jeff - thanks, and it's been an absolute pleasure getting to know you and peeps like you in the past year!

Anonymous said...

That's inspiring stuff and could be applied to so many things (not just wine). You're certainly inspiring me to follow you on your wine journey - who knows what I might learn!

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, Spud!!

RJ's Wine Blog said...

this is really a great post. i originally saw it the day you posted it and sent it to my email so i would make sure to read it. makes so much sense. i spent years playing music and then entered the .com world about 10 years ago and your thoughts are more than applicable to these areas as well. it's all about the courage to explore your passions, whether it be wine, music, work, art, whatever.

thanks for posting this and reminding us all of the point here.

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, rjh! I've done my time in IT (still am doing it, actually), so I know what you mean. Cheers!

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