First appeared in The Columbia River Reader
I’m a big fan of learning. I spent twenty years in education and most of that time working with at-risk youth. What dawned on me after a few years in the classroom was that what most kids needed was a guide—someone who would listen to them in order to find out what motivated them. Before that, I spent too much time telling them what they needed to learn in order for them to be happy and successful. I believe everyone wants to learn innately, but natural curiosity is often killed by systems that are tailored to benefit the delivery system, not the individual. But isn’t the goal of education to cultivate individuals who think, grow and develop all life long? So what does this have to do with wine?
In our tasting room, I meet many people everyday. It is really a lesson in human behavior. There are two kinds of people- for sake of this argument. There are those who want to learn new things about wine and those who believe in what they have been told about wine. Past experience also plays into the latter’s mentality. For example, they tried some really bad wine, so all wine must be bad. We are all influenced by media messages, but learners are more resistant to those messages because their education included opportunities to explore on their own. Where I’m going with this is that there is a great need for educators, including wine educators, to challenge each others assumptions about learning. You can teach an old dog to do new tricks if you can partner with them in the learning process!
One of my goals for 2017 is to do more in my role as a wine educator. This means first I must ask lots of questions in order to find out what people think and believe, so I can understand where their curiosity lies and, if possible, offer help in moving them toward understanding (education). So it is my assumption that everyone wants to learn. If it appears that someone doesn’t want to learn, we must find out why and met them at their point of resistance, nudging them, using stories, humor, and knowledge. It is not my job to tell you what wine you should like or buy; it is my job to pique your interest, give you answers to your questions about wine, and to provide a template for understanding and enjoying wine.
Here are some comments that I often hear:
Wine is a drink of snobs, women, and liberals. I only like ………….wine (sweet, white, red, dry) Wine gives me headaches.
Wine is so expensive.
I can’t pick out the flavors in wine
Wine tasting is intimidating
I’m not saying that everyone should care about wine. But if you do care, even a little bit, I can guarantee that your enjoyment of wine will increase if you are open to learning more about it. So the next time you visit our tasting room and say “I don’t like red wine”, don’t be surprised if my response will be “try this anyway-after all, you haven’t tried my wine.” This usually opens the door to further conversation.
I hope 2017 will be a year where you will open your mind and heart to new knowledge and, for wine drinkers, new experiences with wine.
Review: 2013 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon $75
Very elegant and focused with herbal aromas. Lots of black fruit that dominates, but well balanced and structured. Aged 20 months in French oak releasing rich chocolate, plum, and black current flavors.
Passing Time Winery is a collaboration of Dan Marino, Damon Huard, and Longview native, Doug Donnelly.