Here..Try this Wine..I Made it While Smoking

Assumptions!  They usually aren’t good if you make them without the facts to back them up.

I was working with a winery whose winemaker smoked. I don’t know how much. But, I saw him smoke often so I’m guessing it wasn’t a casual puff. But I really didn’t care. My advice to him was simply don’t smoke in front of people you aren’t sure smoke themselves when you are representing the winery because nothing good can come of it.

I was right.

At one point in our working relationship we were going over some things before some members of the trade arrived for a small seminar of sorts. We were talking outside, he was smoking. Our appointment pulled up and spied us and spied him smoking. He put out the smoke and we walked over to the car to greet them and get things underway.

The very first thing out of the young server’s mouth was "you smoke and taste wine and make wine?" How can you do that?"

At first I wasn’t sure if it was a genuine query or actually the rude statement of contempt it turned out to be. I wasn’t as quick as the winemaker in understanding the point of the question. I had to wait for the winemaker’s response to figure it out. He responded, "The same way you are able to keep your mouth shut when your patrons eat…it’s my job."

Now, truth be told, I’ve been known to smoke a little here and there. I too have been questioned, not on my winemaking abilities–I don’t have any–but on my ability to taste and evaluate wines since I’ve "completely destroyed my palate."

In fact I was questioned on this issue just the other day. The questioner assumed I simply couldn’t taste wine with any confidence because the smoke has completely killed my palate. I’m not as quick witted as my winemaker friend so I have no fancy retort ready when the question/accusation comes. So what I do is tell the story of Andre Tchelistcheff, the great winemaker for Beauleiu Vineyards and perhaps America’s greatest winemaker ever…certainly our most influential. Andre smoked. Andrea made great wine vintage after vintage. He smoked in his cellar.

Of course my point is not to endorse smoking. My point is that confronting someone with assumptions, particularly when it comes to something about which you have no experiences is probably not a great idea.

Posted In: Personal


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