“Drink wine…Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life…” so said Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyyat in the 11th century.
Fast forward a thousand years:
I was about ten years old when I had my very first sip of red wine…it was a Chateau Margaux Grand Cru Classe, 1959.
I don’t remember the nose or the tasting notes on the palate…all I remember is that it felt like red velvet going down my throat.
That was the beginning of my love affair with wine, one that has lasted since…over 40 years I should say.
I went from being a neophyte to a connoisseur to a full-on sommelier, studying, smelling, tasting and writing about that delectable nectar.
Over the past several years, I’ve dipped in and out of the world of wine, dedicating myself mostly to writing, but now, I’m back in it full time, creating wine lists, going to tastings…and best of all, serving wine: talking to people about what they like and guiding them…perhaps to what may be a new discovery for them, or simply the ideal pairing with what they’ve decided to eat.
For me, there is nothing quite like watching their eyes light up as they taste, savour and simply enjoy that first sip I pour.
I had temporarily forgotten what it entails to be a sommelier: people seem truly impressed. “I’m just the sommelier,” someone mimicked the phrase back to me, “just the sommelier.“You must be really smart,” he added.
I don’t know about all that…perhaps he saw “Somm,” the documentary about the four wine stewards who decide to take the Master Sommelier exam.
Nonetheless, it appeared that he had a newfound respect for me. As do most others.
But wine, like writing, my other passion, is bloody hard.
Of course I still enjoy it…but when it becomes a profession, it takes on another dimension: people expect you to know more, look to you to educate them in the three minutes you spend talking to them about the wine as you serve it.
And frankly, I don’t take it all so seriously: wine has always been a celebration…of life, of love, of friends…all the stuff that matters.
For me, wine has always been part of my memories…just like the Pouilly Fume I had at Les Deux Magots on the Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris one recent beautiful Spring day…a day when I forgot all the mundanity of life and breathed and really smiled.