I’m Scared to Walk into a Wine Store
Let’s face it wine is intimidating. When I first decided I liked wine, I was so intimidated by its culture and stuffiness that I was scared to walk into a real wine store. So I stuck to my liquor depots (Jersey’s pride and joy) and once or twice I even ventured into Total Wine. But walk into a boutique wine store? No way.
What was I so scared of? Everything. I imagined walking into the store, looking around and seeing nothing that I was familiar with. I couldn’t read the foreign labels, and most of the time I didn’t even know what grape I was looking for let alone know what a ‘meritage’ was. I read a wine blog once where a user responded, “Wine has always been thought of as the beverage of the privileged class.” And that’s how I felt. At 22 and a beginner in my wine enjoyment career, I was definitely not the privileged class.
So how did I get from that terrified state to owning a specialty wine store? Easy answer, another specialty wine store. After moving to Aspen, Colorado I finally worked up the nerve to walk into a proper wine retailer. It might have been the age (mine), might have been the atmosphere, or more likely the fact that Aspenites are a little bit more friendly than us from Jersey. But I walked in that first day and admitted my flaws (or so I thought).
“I just got into wine, I don’t know much about it – at all – just that I like it. I like everything, reds, whites, I want to try it all. Oh and I don’t make that much money, so I’m most definitely on a budget.” Part of me was expecting the shopkeeper to huff and puff and throw me right out of the store. Instead he laughed, and said “You know what, ditto.” And that’s how it all began.
I realized that wine isn’t some highly intellectual activity that only the wealthy and super intelligent take part in. It wasn’t some club that you needed to study in order to gain entrance. It was a beverage, a very good beverage with good a background and history. I began to enjoy the exploration of new grapes, new blends and even the process of winemaking, viticulture and the history behind it. True, I’ve always been a book nerd so it didn’t come as much of a surprise.
Years later, I’ve tried to embrace what that shopkeeper taught me in my daily interaction with customers. Wine is simple, you like it or you don’t. Most enjoy it for the simple pleasure of drinking it. If you want to know more, great I’ll tell you. If not, no big deal – I won’t judge. Because the last thing anyone in the wine industry – wine makers, owners, critics, retailers, sommeliers – wants is wine to be is scary.