The word “winestory” though technically not a real word, is our theme for this challenge and the it is meant for us to discuss how we began our life as a blogger. John of “Pairs with Life” was the last winner of the Wine Writers Challenge and that is his choice of a theme. This was another unique theme to ponder and required some thought and time.
I remember the time that I began thinking of a blog was right after I had quit a well- paying job, but the work conditions and environment were not as originally painted. I was in the doldrums trying to decide if I wanted to continue in the type of employment that I had always been in. Several people had suggested that I try blogging about wines as I would always discuss the wines or the selection over dinner and tried to keep them entertained as we would wait for the next course to be served. Those table discussions were the genesis of The Wine Raconteur, and only because I had always liked the word raconteur, which is just a twenty-dollar word for a story teller and I can ramble.
I mean on a one-to-one scenario, I would have a rather captive audience at the table to regale my stories and memories, but I was concerned that no one would even find what I was writing about or like my writing. I took everyone’s suggestions to heart and started researching what a wine blog should be like. I was amazed at all the different styles, postures and tones that were out there and so many were so forceful and direct, and that was not me. I was also amazed at how so many were over-utilizing their Thesaurus to come up with descriptors for the taste and nose of the wine that they were discussing. I realized that when I started my education in wine, the climate of discussion was much more sedate.
I also was concerned that I had no wine credentials at all, I mean I can remember when Detroit got their first accredited Sommelier, every other person was a “wine steward” who knew how to decant a wine, if necessary and could make a suggestion of a wine from their individual wine carte. I came from a beer and Canadian whisky background. The only people that I knew as a youth that like wine was an uncle that circled the globe several times in the Merchant Marines during the Second World War and the others were the glamorous people in movies that could order great wines easily.
I guess my saving grace was that I was a collector of all the labels of the wines that I had tried and had created a scrap book. I had also saved menus and matchbooks from restaurants over the years and the curious thing was that my Bride had also saved matchbooks, so I knew that I had items that I could show and tell. Writing was another challenge, I had written often in High School and in College, but that writing was long ago and a different style of prose.
I had to find my voice or conceit of style that felt natural and then there was the gnawing fear that I would not be accepted. I must have written twenty different articles, just to get a feel and some of my original articles never saw the light of day and when I go back and look at my earliest writings I was kind of all across the board and then I finally felt that I was best pretending that I was having a dinner and wine with a friend and relating another time that I had wine.
I guess the conceit of my writing centers on the fact that I not only enjoy wine, but how it adds to the moment. I find that the pleasure of the situation is what kindles my brain and imagination. There are times like when my children were born and I had wine at the hospital celebrating the day like the cigars that used to be passed out for that rite of passage. There were the great restaurants and the not so great ones that I have been to. There have been the great wines and then there are a lot of table wines that I have had over the years. Some may feel that bury the lead, a journalistic phrase, because I always leave the wine for the end, but it was the setting that selected the wine, as opposed to the wine selecting the event.
Since I had never been or still haven’t been in the wine industry, I pondered if I could find enough different wines to write about, and would people only expect to read about the premier wines. To this day, I have not had to worry about writing about wine samples, because the world is not breaking down my door to hand me any. I had plenty of self-doubt about my knowledge and to this day, I still do, but the School of Hard Knocks that I attended about wine has done me well, as far as I am concerned. I feel that I made the right choice, though I am sure that no one will ever tout a wine, because of The Wine Raconteur, but they may find a wine that will evoke some curiosity.