Jamie Gabrini, Special Columnist
I’m sick of wine.
I don’t quite know how this happened, but it’s true. At some point during the past year, I lost interest in wine and – quite frankly – don’t give a fig anymore. Or at least at the moment.
I certainly have not been in wine all that long. I think it’s been five years now since I decided that Chateauneuf-du-Pape was heaven in a glass and that I simply could not live another day unless I worked in wine.
In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe my ego would not permit me to linger in the ‘wine lover’ margins; I’d grown to lament feeling like an ignorant git when I’d go into a local wine shop and not know what 80% of the wines were. French wines – despite my linguistic background – remained a complete mystery beyond knowing what ‘rouge’ and ‘blanc’ meant. Germans were thankfully not a concern as I never was a fan of riesling, even though I didn’t even know what that meant at the time. Chiantis were easy enough to know, as were Riojas, but beyond that, I didn’t even attempt to remember all of the intricacies of European wines. Like many before and since, I determined that the best and most serious wines were BIG REDS and wanted to learn more from there.
Enter my tenure at Chambers Street. I distinctly remember nearly spitting out my five-dollar-Tribeca-bought chai tea in horror when a colleague professed her love of Beaujolais. This moment should’ve been immediately followed by a healthy serving of humble pie (which, if bought in the neighborhood, would have no doubt been handcrafted with artisanal humility and set me back a ten spot) as it dawned on me that she was not alone. At Chambers Street, I was able to enter the hallowed halls of wine knowledge, and now, I’m not so sure if that’s a good thing.
Picture, if you will, a wine store. Most people have an idea of what they like in general – merlot or pinot grigio, for example – and they’re content to buy within their comfort zone, or to work with a wine-savvy worker to discover something new. I go in and I’ll know just about every wine on the racks or – in better shops – I’ll at least have a good handle on the region/grape and can take a stab at how the vintage was and how it’s holding up. I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve tasted at a vertical at an unknown Canadian winery and plucked out the rainy vintages without hesitation. Sure, it’s a cool parlor trick, but does anyone really need to be able to do this?
I suppose the major reason I’m feeling so jaded is that the mystery has gone out of wine for me. I miss sipping one of those big reds and enjoying the rich sensuality filling my mouth and the tinges of heady intoxication setting in. Instead, I’ll scan a wine list, knowing damn well that I’ll be underwhelmed by just about anything on there, but I’ll order a glass anyway and search like hell to find anything other than toasty vanilla/cherry cola/smoky chocolate notes in there. And those notes won’t be there. And it’ll be too warm anyway. But I’ll drink it anyway since I’m paying far more than it cost and call it a night. It’s worse when I’m out with non-wine people because it’ll be assumed that I can get the best wine in the world for them. Not having created the wine list, I don’t want the responsibility of having to find that unicorn, nor do I want to pretend to really like something that is crap just so that I don’t appear to be the jaded snob that I am.
Give me a bourbon. And let’s hope this bitchy bout of bitter passes before I find myself unemployed. (But make it a Hudson Baby Bourbon… because apparently, this snobbishness is deeply engrained…)