What a pleasure to be back! I admit it: these mailbags are now my favorite point of the week. Even during the contentious back-and-forth, I always enjoy opening my inbox to see words from you all. “Kind” ones, sometimes—but as you know from last week—I don’t only receive fan mail from my fellow wine-drinkers. We can be a prickly bunch!
Dear Sommelier Ferdinand,
I live in New Jersey, and my wife wants to drive all the way to Long Island to see the wineries. But I keep telling her that we got kids, and they’re not gonna like watching us drink wine all day. My boy doesn’t like watching my High Life with dinner, there’s no way he’d flip for a daytrip out East. Is there some way you can communicate this to my old lady, maybe with wine speak? -Anthony
I’ll be frank with you, Anthony—I cannot understand what you’re saying. As I read your fives lines of message, I’m transported back in secondary school, staring at Shakespearian sonnets, where words mean a dozen different things, and analysis requires the locksmith’s technique of trying out every combination of definitions until I crack the whole sentence. Is your “old lady” your spouse? Is “High Life” a red or a white?
Please don’t mind, but I’ve treated your email like a porterhouse, trimming the unusable fat, and I believe this is your dilemma: You don’t wish to accompany your wife to the wineries, because your children wouldn’t be welcome there…?
I hope that’s what you are meaning—because the answer to that is straightforward: There is nothing to be worried about. Wineries are not adult-only locations. This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed particularly from Americans, and it’s troubling. The American philosophy is that wine is for adults only, and children should be shielded from the culture. I hate to paint with such a broad brush, Anthony, but it seems to me your fears are unfounded.
Wine is to be consumed by adults only. That is an appropriate starting point, and I do not fault you for that, especially given the American way. But. imagine my perspective: I was raised in a country where teenagers may consume wine, with responsibility. Because of this, I developed a healthy respect for the culture of winetasting at an early age and was enriched by the grape before my 18th birthday.
Perhaps your children do stand to gain from a day at the wineries. Especially those on the coast of Long Island. If they’re not old enough to try a sip, you could educate them about wines. It could be a bonding activity, to learn about wines from a parental figure. You could enrich yourself, your “old lady”, and your children while enjoying a nice day at the wineries. This is the peak time of year for heading out there, so make up your mind—before it gets cold.
Who knows: maybe if you educate your children about the wineries while they’re young—you’ll get lucky, and they’ll grow up to be like me!
-Sommelier Ferdinand. 5.10.21