Monday, January 12, 2009

Anthony Quinn :The Wine Market I See In 2009 : I'm Still Excited Beyond Belief !

Here it is Monday, January 2009 at 10:47 AM in northern Virginia on my day-off and I can still claim whole-heartedly that almost thirty years later I am thrilled and excited about wine and life beyond my wildest imagination(s) - I have lots so let's make it plural - about starting the year once again promoting and educating customers of mine on wine. I've never lost my enthusiasm ever over wine in these almost thirty years. Actually it has been more than thirty when you consider I became really smitten with wine back in Paris, France in the mid seventies. Of course thirty or more years ago the business and enjoyment of wine was an entirely different thing, too. Have we seen any real progress since then or has all the change amounted to more negatives than positives?

These of course are both really important questions to ask. I will address these two questions but first want to discuss the roll of the wine-writer and others that dispense advice on how to enjoy and approach wine and the experiences of drinking it alone or with a meal or both. I also want to address the vast amount of information that is readily available at our finger tips through the internet.

I dispense wine and food advice and so I have to heed my own words as much as anyone else out there that does the same. I am one of those few people alive today I believe that lament the days and want them back before there was a computer and Internet available to us all at our finger tips. I am sorry that we can access so much information now so quickly. I am not happy that there is so much information easily ready for us to read and learn more about a wine or an area or whatever else was instrumental in making and getting the wine before my eyes and the bottle in my hand.

I know, I know, it makes me sound all of this like an ancient relic of sorts that should be quickly put out of it's misery and buried before more of the world is polluted and brought down with such ridiculous thinking. It's not, of course that I do not like the Internet and the computer ; it's simply that I find them to be used too often and relied upon too completely as the start and finish to everything. I want to put myself and you back into the equation. Let me explain.

There once was a time when we were all forced to be more bold and brave and serendipitous. We would have to " chance it ", to just " go for it " , to step out into uncharted areas and have at least one foot outside our comfort zones as we tried " new " wines. Of course we still try " new " wines today. Don't get me wrong, we do. But we do it with so much baggage of information going into the trying of these " new " wines that I almost say : " why even bother? " What can we gain or add ourselves to the equation if we know everything before even experiencing it ourselves?

Harsh pronouncement, I know. But if we know everything about the wine and the experience that we are most-likely to have ( because we have read so much before on the Internet and in the books and magazines, been told what to expect in detail by our wine-store retailers ) then what is left to us? What is our part, and what part do we now play ? Are we as much a part anymore of this " new " sensation, new wine experience on our palates? We have after all been influenced and predisposed already to be looking for and anticipating certain tastes, flavors, etcetera. And afterwards will we just repeat and recite exactly the same things that others experienced? Will we just serve as messengers for others and not really for ourselves?

Whatever happened to the serendipitous, our own " true discovery " moment in all of this?!? I lament the days awhile ago where we gave up our own lead parts in all of this. Yes, we're still on the stage with the wine but we are no longer center stage. We have by our own will been relegated to the sides of the stage, now more as observers and less as active participants actually being brave enough to initiate our own plays. Wow, what a let-down. Talk about having the wind beneath my wings vanish completely! What a downer ; we've all come crashing back down to earth and had major parts of us buried away somewhere. Sadly most of us don't even realize this. Sadly, too most of us never really take flight and get up high enough to come crashing back down to earth. We don't experience the full elements anymore of life or this wonderful wine experience that could and should rightfully be ours and not someone else's!

Be brave, be bold, be daring! Do the " new " wine experience on your own. Take a chance, live more brightly, more on the edge. Keep one foot in your comfort zone but definitely place the other someplace " new ", anywhere, just make it " new " and hopefully spontaneous and serendipitous. Live your life without too much interference and information beforehand. It's okay.

It's really best. Others should not be paving our way. It's not a free ride by any means. The gains we make on our own are those that really will mean something in the end to us. Here I'm talking as much about life as about wine-enjoyment and experiences.

It's like being a kid all over and trying to ride your bike without trainer's wheels. Your parents like us out there in the wine world have to let you go , release you and the bike. That's when you are supposed to take over and be in charge.

You'll fall, you'll get scraped-up somewhere but it will be you in charge, you at the front, you at control of your own destiny. You will take most of the chances and reap most of the rewards. You will be your own boss , so to speak. You will experience the highs, lows and middles from complete start to complete long, lingering finish of the wine and the meal that are both yours and yours alone to fully experience to the complete extent of your own, unscripted abilities.

Regain what experiences should be rightfully yours. It's wonderful ( isn't it ?!? ), bloody wonderful and amazing! Cheers and kudos to you! You get my respect and my vote of confidence. I feel better for you that you will benefit more fully, that you will live life and experience it more fully and with more enjoyment, too. Turn up those burners of yours inside a bit more highly ; burn more brightly. It will feel good, it will excite and keep you on edge and make you tingle and the adrenalin will kick in, too. It's palpable this sense of immediacy and the unknown and the uncertainty of it all!

I'm not saying to not read anything or listen to anything beforehand ; I'm just saying do a little bit less of it and count on yourself and you own palate and your own impressions a bit more. Hey, they are yours and not someone else's experiences. You're the one supposed to be in the driver's seat; you're the one supposed to be living and having and enjoying the experience so : " do it now, do it again, do it largely on your own! " Trust me, you will benefit greatly from this approach or at least heeding these words and trying to follow them in your own fashion.

Do not use us the wine retailers, them the wine-reviewers, that the Internet and the computer too much : just enough perhaps to get the bottle into your own hands. After that, take over, take it from there. Be strong and daring and " go from there " all alone. Don't think another minute about what you have been told or have read just " go for it ", " go for broke "!

What do you have to lose? NOTHING, nothing at all : and you have now everything to gain. It's all at your fingertips. The " experience " should be all yours to be shared with those family and friends present as you sip and enjoy the wines with food and them.

We've done our small parts : the " big part " is yours to be discovered and fully-experienced at your own speed and tempo. Regain center stage. Be the lead actor with the wine and food and others. You might ( almost surely will , liked and less-liked, yes ) really discover something totally amazing and completely unexpected and : " that's what it is all about - what it should all be about ".

You've gone somewhere " new and exciting ", pushed yourself in new directions, stretched yourself and your palate to try " new " things and you should be applauded.

It can be a bit daunting, it can be like being in pitch-blackness. It's unnerving, the fear of the unknown should also be equal to the happiness of full discovery and a new enjoyment and new sense of inner strength in being bold/ rash/ impulsive enough ( all good things in moderation ) to make your own mistakes and chart your own personal growth and development.

Just don't use a script! Don't know the whole thing before you even do it. Don't always know or want to know the ending ; that should be a surprise - a great, wonderful, liberating surprise.

I hope that when I educate people about wine and how to open and serve it and combine it with food that I just get you excited enough to try it. It's then up to you to go and enjoy it at your own speed and on your own terms. I just want to help you get this personal experience started. That's all, really. I don't want to do anything more. That was my job and I hope I got you excited about what you might uncover or discover all on your own.

Points and scores and hype are all just that ; superficial and abstract and with no real meaning to you or your own real/true enjoyment of the wine, the food it's served with and the particular moment that is uniquely yours and yours alone. If the wine got 100 points that should not be the reason that you enjoy it when you taste and serve it alongside your meal.

You should not be reading the words of someone else as you taste the wine to see if you taste what that person tasted. Don't use these points and written reviews as crutches : hop and limp and crawl and jump and fly along all on your own.

We only have the moment that we live to enjoy and we owe it to ourselves to live it fully. We can best do that by ourselves and with our own seven senses as our guides along with our hearts. souls and guts - and whoever else happens to be with us and along for the ride. We just have to focus ourselves on each and every moment and not be distracted by external things like others and their points, scores, reviews and hype. Create your own hype and excitement as you live the moment. That's what really matters.

Ride, fly, glide, paddle, taste, raise a glass to your nose, inhale, smell, hold the wine in your mouth for a few more seconds, breathe deeply, hold your breath, swallow in stages and not all the wine at once, move your head, rock, shake it hard, move your tongue around gracefully in between your gums and your teeth, stretch your tongue out fully and hold that pose for a second or two ; swallow, smack your lips for the acidity of the wine .... smile in your own true contentment and realization of discovery and overall wonderment.

To get back to my first two questions about the wine world 30 years ago and now today, and weighing the positives and the negatives of both : there is today a whole lot more choice of excellent variety and value than ever before. As long as you insert yourself and keep yourself there as the principle up on the stage of your wine enjoyment then I believe it is better today.

However, with all the choices created over the last twenty years or so and so many other parts of the world producing wines we have undeniably produced a wine-case/ number-crunching world of real business in selling units, cases and just more wine. Big corporations are simplifying, eliminating, mass-producing, sterilizing, choosing for us, marketing to us on catchy labels with animals on them, etcetera ... and ultimately making it harder for the small growers, vineyards, players to survive both in the producing and the selling of wine. Much of this in my humble opinion is really bad and will ultimately squelch and remove a lot of the gains that we were making to make it simpler and more profitable for a few. This is a whole other blog I will have to write next.

Anyway,cheers and kudos to you and to this bright " new " experience and sensation ; and to 2009 filled with so many virgin white canvases to fill and so much wine to sip and spill and lavish our full attentions over. It promises already to be great.

If we raise our voices and are heard I believe that we can correct some of the negative effects created over the last thirty years ( as well as expand upon the positive ones ) , and continue bringing more and better selections/values to us today.

Stay-tuned for more on these last thirty years. TONY

No comments: