Ask Yourself, Somms
A lot of us act like douchebags.
I’m talking to us, the wine people, with our fancy certifications and shiny pins and handful of acronyms that now follow our names.
We congregate like peacocks, each of us nursing secret anxieties and insecurities, desperate to puff out our chests and recite the sub-zones of Chianti as if that knowledge made us important or something. We taste through dozens of wines, each of us judging each other based on our blind tasting skills rather than whether we are actually kind to one another. We announce our milestones proudly, only to have them one-upped by people we call friends. We are assholes, perhaps not to consumers, but to each other.
I have seen a great many bend the knee to people with bigger pins or larger titles, people who revel in the glory of their attention but don’t actually help them succeed. Have you ever wondered if the ones that you worship are keen on helping you rise?
The most arrogant of us, those who can’t bear the thought of not being noticed, are those who have the biggest wounds. And to those people: I now see you and understand your pain. You have failed, you have been embarrassed, and you have been ridiculed, just like the rest of us. And the more I talk with you, the more I understand you and know that you need validation or your fragility will be revealed. But instead of being the loudest, start listening and planning a future where you’ll help those that are just like you. And start being real, for exposing a raw piece of yourself will actually turn you into a trustworthy beacon, something this industry so desperately needs.
So ask yourself, wine people: as you climb the ladder higher and higher in search of mastery, are you remembering to turn around with an outstretched hand and lift your peers up? Or are you smugly watching those around you fall behind, blinded by the gleam of your pin and numerous achievements? If you devoted your career to service, have you devoted the rest of your life to that same goal?
P.S. This postscript is dedicated to my own fears. Here are my insecurities in this industry:
1) I am freaked out about my lack of producer knowledge, so I decided to take a lower-paying job in retail just so I could be around a huge portfolio of wines. I am also insecure about the lack of prestige and money that comes with the title but didn’t want a job in distribution.
2) I don’t know whether I have the stamina or talent to get through Master of Wine. Will I be able to build a family and maintain relationships? I’m very frightened.
3) My tasting skills could use improvement. I always fuck up Rioja!!
4) I have been battling anxiety for a few years and don’t want to have a mental breakdown when things get tough.
5) I don’t know whether I can make a substantial mark on the wine scene, especially that in Austin. I love helping people and want to be a source of guidance.