What makes working in wine great?

on 22 November, 2013

The wine trade is frequently accused of offering the best career in the world. Because the grass is always greener on the other side, the best career in the world is usually anything that isn’t your own.

Yet more often than not, the wine trade agrees that its grass is the greenest.

Obviously, the only thing we do all day is sit around chugging wine and handing each other awards for Best Mallorcan Riesling or Funniest Barolo-Related Tweet. But even that becomes humdrum after a while, and sometimes it jolly well feels like a bloody job.

I wrote last time about the inexpensive wine that constitutes the vast majority of the trade in Britain, and how it’s brilliant that this gives so many people a simple everyday pleasure. But such commodity wine is hardly likely to thrill those who work with it – so what is it about the wine trade that makes it the best career in the world?

There are the opportunities to travel, the frequent meals out, the fascinating diversity of people you get to meet. But the same can be said for politics, and not many people covet that line of work.

It’s the wine itself, of course, that makes our work so enviable. But it’s worth reminding ourselves exactly what it is about wine that makes the difference.

I’ve already said it’s unlikely to be the cheap stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most expensive either. At that level, wine attracts guff with nuclear force and, because it is wholly subjective, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

The pricier the wine is, the more spurious the hyperbole becomes. “Like Hawthorn honey – sorry, but it really is” I recently read in a wine catalogue.

“Accents of salted butter, lemon and brown sugar tell of a stroll through an orchard grove. The robe deepens in a burst of warmth” appeared in another.

Such pretension only detracts from the enjoyment of the very thing it is supposed to enhance. Unfortunately, fine wine so often seems inseparable from this gushing logorrhoea.

On the other hand, perhaps this is exactly what some people love about wine.

Well, you know what they say about opinions – so here’s mine. You can decide if it stinks.

For me, wine has a rare and precious ability to evoke something visceral. Those moments when it makes you smile spontaneously. This can’t be engineered, nor can it be easily described. The more you seek it, the more evasive it becomes – and then it comes when you least expect it.

Magic happens when you think you see everything but you still can’t explain it. It invokes a state of pure wonderment. Tantalisingly, rarely, fleetingly, wine can be magic.

The instances may be few and far between, but when they happen it is simply sensational. Waiting for that next sip of magic makes wine the best career in the world.

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