Friends are people who tell you the truth. And yesterday I got served a face-full of friendship. It turns out, my truth-telling pal insisted, I have been a big, fat phony since I started writing this blog. The big, fat part, I thought was fair. But phony? Wow, talk about knowing how to hurt a guy. She reminded me that in my first post, my manifesto, I claimed that the object of The Grape Belt was to stamp out pretentiousness and snobbery and any other sort of highfalutin nonsense that got in the way of more people drinking more wine. I thought that was a pretty good goal to have if one is going to write about wine.
Turns out I’ve done a shit-poor job of living up to that aim. Turns out I have been a less-than-critical observer of my own work. After years of telling students to read closely, to look at what the author is doing and why, I completely ignored my own advice. Okay, so I’ve bought a few decent bottles of wine in a few fancy restaurants. Yes, I bought myself a wine cellar , which now holds a few hundred bottles that are worth more than I’ll probably make in the next six or seven months. And, I conceded, I have written way too much about things that a Mr. Everyman shouldn’t care about. Too much stuff in my posts is way too exclusive, I was told. And exclusive is something I tend not to like. My friend wanted to know if I had the guts to turn this thing around. (Cripes, enough with the fat jokes). Was I going to keep hop-hop-hopping down the Snobby Trail, maybe start shopping for ascots and collecting antique corkscrews, and getting all palsy-walsy with folks who pronounce foreign words a bit too precisely? Or, should I actually do what I set out to do, which is make wine more interesting and more accessible to a growing number of people?
After about 30 years, er, minutes of my friend’s “support,” which my wife gleefully contributed to, I’d had enough, and I responded with one of my favorite, if not slightly worn, two-word phrases. I knew that this remark was going to hurt me more than it hurt her – she has pretty thick skin, unlike me who is just thick everywhere – and so I mustered up the resolve to say, with just a bit of exasperation in my voice, “You’re right.”
What else could I say? We were still in the middle of a pretty nice dinner so “fuck you” would have been completely inappropriate, and off-putting to my wife and daughter. Plus, she was right. My blog posts were too preachy, filled with too many things most folks couldn’t give a rat’s ass about. Like a poorly prepared politician I’d gotten off message after about two minutes on the campaign trail. So, it’s time for resolutions, time to get The Grape Belt back where it belongs. In coming weeks, look for fewer ascots and more bargains, less self-congratulation and more suggestions on making wine part of your every waking minute. Too much? Okay, how about starting by making wine a fixture on your dinner table? We shouldn’t think of wine as something only stuck-up assholes enjoy. You’re not a stuck-up asshole, are you? I’m not. Well, at least not any more.