I was wine-shamed the other day. For having the bad taste to include in my collection a cork from a certain winery. I won’t say which winery it was, just that I was asked ― with disdain ― why I would even keep such a thing.
Wine is about memories and there are many things Mr Wine Shamer didn’t know. The wine could have been the first one I’d ever tasted. It could’ve been the favorite of a friend who finally got into wine after years of resistance. It could’ve been the first one I grabbed from the supermarket shelf after three months of abstinence. It could have been a gift from my sick great-godmother’s cousin’s wife, who had such a great fondness for that particular wine that she insisted I drink it with her one last time before she died. It could’ve been any of those things.
Wine may be all cherries, berries, cassis, forest floor, and a whole load of other mumbo-jumbo dreamed up by snooty wine writers to make themselves sound fancy and the rest of us like hillbilly dum-dums, but for me, wine is really about my experience and my memory of that experience. From the events surrounding a particular bottle to the people I drank it with (oh sorry, with whom I drank), there’s a special meaning to each bottle that goes beyond the label, beyond the price, and even beyond whether it tasted good or bad.
I’m no wine connoisseur and I’ve never claimed to be one. I just enjoy drinking it and learning about it along the way. I would have included a Wolf Blass cork too (if it hadn’t been a screw cap) because it was the first wine I ever tasted in my life and I had it in a Styrofoam cup and I absolutely hated it. But that’s my memory of it – and nobody else’s. So I’ll keep the cap if I want, have it sit right next to the corks of the First and Second Growths, and not apologize one bit for it.