I’m no wine expert—OK, I’ve read a book on the stuff—but it is a passion of mine. Following my favorite wine writer, Marissa Ross, on Instagram is basically my New York Times, and trying a new bottle is like Christmas morning for me. (Seriously. I get butterflies of excitement when I’m heading to my local wine store.)
But I’ve noticed a trend when I bring up my wine hobby: People love to tell you what they know about it. It’s like mansplaining for vino. It’s winesplaining.
Acting like you know everything about wine has become the equivalent of saying you’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow three times and your favorite movie is a four-hour silent film from 1921, and the only remaining copy sits in a temperature-controlled vault in an archive in Germany.
Of course, I have my own theories on the phenomena. Maybe it’s because, historically, wine has come across as elitist. (Who didn’t want to punch Paul Giamatti’s character for dissing Merlot so hard in Sideways?) And it’s an industry dominated by…let’s just say people who *might* be guilty of frequent mansplaining. Psst: There are 182 “master sommeliers” in the Americas. Twenty-nine of them are women.
But the reason I was drawn to wine in the first place—and the reason I’m done with winesplainers—is this: Wine is always evolving. The subject is so expansive that it’s impossible to know everything. (And if you do know everything about it, let’s talk.) It’s also—what’s the word for it? Oh: subjective AF.
And for that reason, no one can know everything about wine because its inherent nature—the *thing* that makes wine, well, wine—is that it changes. Always. It transforms with seasons, winemakers, techniques, environments and palates. The master somm might tell me a Marsanne smells of new tennis ball and wet fur, but for me, it’s a moment of solace (that no, doesn’t involve a racket sport).
Wine is my own little act of escapism. Each smell and sip evokes a feeling of place and time, both from where it came and where I drank it. It’s transportive, nostalgic and, for me, not something to be pinned down with facts, or worse, a winesplainer telling me what I’m enjoying isn’t “good.” Because if I’m enjoying my $10 bottle of Vinho Verde, it’s “good” for me.
Unfortunately, there’s no solution for winesplainers, but I have found two great natural remedies: selective listening…and more drinking.