‘Love Thy (Wine) Neighbour’
BY WINE MANAGER (& WINe Maker), ANGELO VAN DYK
‘Love Thy (Wine) Neighbour’
I remember the first time someone laughed at me because I didn’t know what tannin was. I remember feeling rather humiliated, and I retreated away from something that thankfully still became my calling and life’s passion. But I remember at the time feeling really let down. How could something as romantic and mesmerising and evocative, suddenly be so polarising and off-putting?
Well, let’s take a moment to consider. Wine is intimidating. As much as those of us in the industry would like to convince others that there is nothing to fear, for the layman, it is a bear trap waiting to snap. It’s littered with unpronounceable grape names, appellations, and sadly at times, snobby winos. I like to consider the wine industry (and hospitality as a whole) a part of a bigger family and philosophy, that is constantly striving to impart a greater level of understanding and familiarity to our environment that is sometimes overwhelming.
I recently followed a conversation that unfolded on social media and was perplexed to consider some of the responses from individuals, many of whom were actively involved in the wine world. A very active presence on Instagram had posted a screenshot of a message sent to her by a member of the public asking for some wine advice. There was nothing sinister about the message. Nothing overtly pushy. Just an innocent message seeking guidance about wine bars. Her response was one of genuine disbelief at the audacity of the stranger and defended it with the fact that she had spent a good many years, acquiring her boundless knowledge. The fact that the enquirer had not made the effort to find any bar venues for him or herself was just rude and inconsiderate.
In the day and age of social media, it’s now very easy for someone to gather a strong following, and for one’s voice to suddenly hold sway and influence. And influence they should! But hell, I found myself nursing the familiar disappointment of having to swallow the bitter pill of yet another booming wine ego yelling from a rooftop that they were above humility and helpfulness.
There are many of us, especially here at Bedales, who commit our time and energy to welcoming people into our realm. We too have spent years acquiring our knowledge so that we can share it with those less educated on the complicated subject we love. We strive to make it possible for more people to engage with wine on a deeper level, with more meaning. Whether that be sommeliers or writers, buyers or wine makers, there are many of us who are committed to breaking down walls rather than erecting them. Wine should be shared, as should the good feelings surrounding it. And to those of whom think contrary to this philosophy, perhaps you should attempt a gentler hand and more inclusive attitude; you’ll be greatly moved to see how positive the outcome is on both ends of the conversation.