Escape From Dork Mountain

For those of you who are obsessed with wine and all its glorious minutiae (face it, it’s an obsession; any denial on your part is simply additional proof), it is very easy to lose track of what wine really is, why it was created, and what purpose it serves in a million places around the globe. And, it’s easy to lose sight of what wine isn’t. It isn’t, or at least I don’t think it is, supposed to be fodder for trivial, ego-boosting fits of name dropping and self-aggrandizement; some manic mash-up of nerd slobber and who’s-got-the-bigger-dick. And, yet, too often discussions that center on wine devolve into moments that resemble exactly that.

I was reminded recently of this dark predilection that some wine geeks (not me, I’m not obsessed. I’m not like those others) unfortunately and unwittingly suffer from, as I entertained a group of friends over some snacks and a few bottles of wine. While most of the group would take no offense at being called enthusiastic drinkers, none of them would claim to be one of those insufferable cork heads who have fallen down the oenological rabbit hole, and are now caught up in wine’s infinite mystery, eager to join the ranks of that self-appointed, grape-splattered priesthood.

If you were a fly on the wall at this little patio party last week, and could catch snippets of the wine-related conversation, you’d have heard things like this: ….. fun…..delicious …... what a pretty color….. like it….. more….. oooh, that’s good….. let me try …... this is better….. smells really neat….. goes great with the food…… I’ve got to get some of this …… so pink …… what a bargain …… this is simple and delicious, just like me!

That sort of chatter is a stark contrast to what you might overhear when socializing with folks who have lost track of the real reasons they fell in love with wine in the first place: ….yield ……stainless……. Hungarian oak….. dry cedar…… clones…..Spectator….. slope…. canopy management….. snozzberry….. filtration…… schist…… Parker…… Albanian juniper leaf……. extraction……. Burgundian…… first growth….. malolacto ….. TCA.

In the backyard that day, my friends were relaxed, smiling, enjoying company, conversation, food, wine, and sunshine. When I meet up with members of the other group, who, ironically, are often in the industry and who should be everyday like kids with new toys, I am saddened that they carry faces twisted in grimaces of unnecessary concentration, devoid of the joy that wine is supposed to bring, the joy that is wine’s only purpose. How did they arrive at such a wretched and serious state?

To those of you who have lost track of what matters when it comes to wine, step away from your books and cellars, put down your auction lists and vintage charts. Step back into the light. We’re waiting for you, glass in hand.

2 thoughts on “Escape From Dork Mountain

  1. Peter Clabby

    On this , the last day of my fiscal year, your article was just what the doctor ordered. More importantly, your message, dare I speak the words, transcends wine. Well done. Glad you took me up on my idea for you to do this writing thing.

    See u in 5 days.

    1. Tom Riley

      Thank you , Peter, and thanks for being such an encouraging and visionary thinker! Yeah, it’s about sharing food and drink with friends. Not a whole lot else comes even close to mattering so much. See you soon. Look around campus. I’ll be the guy who looks like me.

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