March 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
I hope I got the Italian right. Apparently there are a few ways to say “I love you” in Italy. Grant (pictured far right) can correct me if I’m wrong. I can’t thank Bobby, Matt, Grant and the rest of the crew enough for letting me tag along this week to learn about wine & life as a sommelier. It’s been my favorite week yet.
There were 3 main areas I set out to explore with this project: personal interests, local/community and craft. Sommelier week was definitely the trifecta.
1) personal interest: I’ve always loved wine, but this week took it to a whole new level. Wine became much more special to me because Bobby & Matt taught me how to learn about it, not just enjoy it. I think a lot of times we’re so used to things being spelled out for us we don’t even have to think about them on our own terms. Even in the case of wine, it’s been assigned grades that tells us if it’s supposedly good or not. This week I learned how to start making my own assessment and I began to learn how to understand wine, making it much more personal. I think the life of a sommelier is fascinating because it’s an ongoing exploration of how the world is expressed through wine, which in many ways is constant but in other ways is constantly changing, always keeping it interesting.
2) local: Frasca meaning “branch” is a generic Friulian term for a casual restaurant often attached to a winery. It’s typically the neighborhood place for good food & wine. In Boulder, Frasca always delivers an incredible dining experience. Getting to hang out to see how it works firsthand and how the sommeliers there think about wine has given me a new appreciation for why Frasca is so special. Not only did I learn so much from them, but they made me feel like part of the family. It was another experience that brings me closer to becoming part of the community of Boulder.
3) craft: I’ve mentioned the book Shopclass as Soulcraft a few times now which talks about the value of work that involves learning a trade. When you think of sommeliers, I think some might think of it as an elitist profession, but this week I saw the pure craft of it. In the book, Michael Crawford says craftsmanship might simply be the desire to do something well for its own sake. He quotes the philosopher Hannah Arendt, “The reality and reliability of the human world rest primarily on the fact that we are surrounded by things more permanent than the activity by which they were produced, and potentially even more permanent than the lives of their authors.” I think the sommelier is dedicated to understanding that permanence of wine, the craft of it, and is devoted to communicating that to others. I think it’s why so many sommeliers go on to make their own wine. It brings them one step closer.
This is a hard week to move on from, but the good thing is that I’ve now incorporated a new way to appreciate wine. I don’t know where it will lead, but I’m definitely hooked. It is like a giant puzzle & I’m now obsessed with understanding how all the pieces fit together.