Wine Geeks Preaching To The Choir
In which I come to terms with my lack of genius….
I’ve known for quite some time that I discriminate when it comes to the good stuff. It’s not necessarily something I’m proud of. But I think my tendency to hold back the really good wine for those I think will better appreciate it, instead of offering it to those that may barely consider it a curiosity, falls in line with most others who find themselves in the grip of wine geekdom and have taken to acquiring the better of the bunch.
This is not the mark of generosity. And I’m reminded lately that it is not the mark of genius either.
It seems to me one of the rarely discussed hallmarks of genius is the desire among the hyper-endowed to possess something like a burning desire to expose others to the findings of their genius mind. Find a brilliant mathematician and let them go. They will share with you eventually the most remarkable aspects of their field; the ones that spark in them awe. The great writers, the ones that find original ways to turn their ideas in to digestible epiphanies in readers will, given the opportunity, happily drag you down a path of enlightenment.
Geniuses like to share.
I was reminded of this when someone more generous than I pointed out that “Sometimes it’s best not to give people what they want, but to give them something they might not get otherwise. Something special. Something that will allow their imaginations to run wild.”
The motivation described here must be exactly what the genius thinks when they are given the opportunity to enlighten someone.
Going a little bit further down this path, Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards relates a story about the genius jazz artist Branford Marsalis who has, as Watkins notes, explained “he knows his kids will be exposed to pop music by their peers, and so he feels it to be important that he expose them to that which they might not get via other channels. Meaning, if he doesn’t play them classical and jazz, who will?”
That’s genius thinking.
One need not possess any amount of genius in order to be caught in the grip of wine geekdom. However, the level of knowledge a real wine geek possesses in comparison to the very casual wine drinker probably looks a lot like genius to that casual wine drinker. In turn, that wine geek would be acting a lot like some sort of genius when they go out of their way to dig deep into their cellar to “give people…something that will allow their imaginations to run wild.”
And yet I don’t do that. And I don’t claim I’m a genius. That would be fraud.
Still, it would behoove me, as well as other like-minded wine geek stinge-masters) to reform and to drag out the good stuff if only to give someone’s imagination a chance to run wild. In the end it is true that preaching to the choir only deepens the faith of the choir, not the preacher.
Thomas Edison said that genius was 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. I guess that means that we should just keep plugging along …
Love, thanks! And I’d add in the spirit of sharing passion for wine that preaching to the choir does not usually increase the congregation 😉
Edison was probably right. But Edison didn’t say what resulted from all that perspiration. I’m thinking sharing is one of the results.
Tom – insightful commentary, really appreciated…I fall in the same category. Part of my motivation, whether I choose to admit it or not, comes from wanting to impress other wine geeks and also fall into their fine graces (ie. they will share back their gems with me). But when I really think about it, some of the best experiences come from regular wine fans learning some of the more unique sides of the game…and they truly do remember the experience much more, as their frame of reference is more limited in scope. I think you’re on to a movement – share the wealth, raise the bar of common knowledge and experience vs. adding a fraction to the top of the pyramid. We’ll all be richer for the experiences. A fine call to action…
I agree – to a point. The difference between exposing someone to a great piece of music and a bottle of La Tache is about $1000. If the person hates the sound of the music it’s ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. However if I’ve opened an expensive and/or rare bottle for someone who hates it – or worse, guzzles it like some version of PBR – well, that’s another matter entirely. So I choose judiciously the wines I open for non-geeks; maybe start out with a good QPR wine to determine their tastes before pushing forward the lesson.