Wine Writing, Relevance and Obituaries
This was the response blurted out by a gentleman after he learned that I’d recently completed my 8th year of blogging about wine here at FERMENTATION. I was introduced to him at a party last night and he mentioned that he’d read this blog. He asked how long I’d been blogging. “Tomorrow marks my eighth anniversary writing FERMENTATION, actually. I started in 2004.”
Lord knows that one of my great hopes in life is that my eventual death will inspire a moment of friskiness in one or two people.
Of course how we inspire others wasn’t the point of my new acquaintance’s somewhat dismissive quip. He clearly was in an existential state of mind brought on either by one too many Holiday Negronis or a form of social autism that allows him to blurt out uncomfortable truths at inopportune moments and aimed at people he does not really know.
His point was that “significant” describes very few of the things we do in our lives.
It wasn’t the most cheerful of observations my blurtatious acquaintance could have uttered at a Holiday party. But it did make me think. “Significance” is not what any wine blogger or wine writer should be hoping for from their work. Relevance is the achievable and notable goal. Can a reviewer or critic of wine offer an opinion relevant to their audience? Can an explanation of a wine region be relevant to people seeking a better understanding of what they are drinking? Can an analysis of the workings of a sector of the wine industry strike people in the industry as a relevant contribution to their understanding of the business and how they approach their work?
Relevance, not significance—let alone, legacy—is what an intrepid wine writer can hope for whether they are published for a day, a year, a decade or longer.
Thinking about the interaction on my way home from the party, I decided it was probably too many Negronis that led this young man to spill his existentialist perspective all over my evening. However, he did lead me to compose my own obituary as I drove.
“Known for his relevant and regular essays on the state of the wine industry published at his FERMENTATION Wine Blog, Tom Wark…”