Maybe it possibly starts with Carlo Rossi transformed into the Blood of Christ. At 7, I absolutely couldn’t wait to take the Body of Christ in my mouth and sip from the golden goblet to let body, blood and me all become one. In my early 20s, I only drank red 2 buck chuck or malbec from the liquor store. That was when I took no cream in my coffee and could down a shot of whiskey without flinching. At 26, I met Kirk Sutherland who mentored me and made me fall in love with the magic that is grape juice fermenting and aging to make a beverage (he just started his own label called Erde Wines, I can’t wait to taste what he’s been working on). Kirk was the wine guy and resident gay Gemini at a restaurant in Brooklyn where I first learned about and became obsessed with wine, specifically wine made with little to no intervention. It started with a Pinot Noir by Brianne Day and turned into me showing up to every “Wine 101” Kirk held for staff on our little corner under the Williamsburg Bridge. Since then, I have sought out other teachers, more resources and made a lot of friends all in the name of “Natural Wine.”
Things started to unfold quickly, at this point, after a few years of trying to educate myself, I probably only know a small fraction of what there is to know about wine. New grape varietals are being discovered all the time, adding to the almost 10,000 we know about. Methods vary from region to region—some people have been making wine the same way for hundreds of years, others are trying new things, like co-fermentation, a process of mixing the juice from two different grape varietals and letting them ferment and age together. Wine can ferment and age in vessels made from so many different materials: fiberglass, cement, stainless steel, wood, or glass carboys. The common denominator for me is always the moment you open a bottle of wine, pour it, bring it up to your nose, maybe swirl it around a bit and take it in your mouth.
A wine’s terroir can represent a snapshot in time: the year a wine was made, the soil it grew in, what weather was happening, who harvested the grapes, who crushed the grapes and put them into a vessel for fermentation and aging, who bottled the wine and how it was shipped to wherever you are. So too can that first sip of a freshly cracked bottle have its own feeling of terroir. Maybe you crawled under a fence and hiked up to the best view of your city and you have a little northern Italian skin-contact number in your bag, maybe it’s dead winter and the fire is blazing and you’re sipping a juicy, thorny, earthy Canary Islands Listan Negro, maybe it's your 27th birthday and you’re in a hot tub and your best friend just poured an herbaceous strawberry daiquiri pet-nat down your throat, or maybe it's just Tuesday and work was kind of grating and you reach for the faithful bottle of hefty bodied, river rock, pineapply German white that will carry you through cooking yourself a meal before melting into the couch for some well deserved reality TV.
As a self proclaimed romantic, the ritualistic ASMR of opening a bottle, having the cork pop and watching the wine stream into your glass, or your lover’s glass, or your friend’s glass, or your mother’s glass (my mom and I have both found a new found bond over wine) is where my heart starts to soar. It’s the starting point for so many things, and that bottle has been in the process of creating that moment for you for so long. The grape is so generous. I’m grateful for the grape. I’m grateful for the people that love the grape too, these folks in particular have shaped the way I see the world of wine: Wheeler, John Hale, Kae Whalen, Bianca Sanon, Erik Longabardi, Julia Coney, Pipette, Kate Stamps, Raquel, Disgorgeous, Trev, Ashtin Berry, The Wine Zine and of course my dearest Silver who, before we met, only drank high life and well whiskey, and now enjoys deeply tannic orange wines above all.
When did your love affair with wine begin?