Wine and Heartbreak: Pairing Wine and Tears
Usher in the Effervescence
In a not-so-unprecedented wine and time-of-the-day pairing, I decided to sip on Harvest Moon Sparkling Guwurtztraminer with my dessert, while reflecting on a recent episode of Wine and Heartbreak in my real life. I first tasted Harvest Moon’s Sparkling Guwurtz, poured by the winemaker Randy Pitts, himself – on an intimate Russian River Valley excursion1 courtesy of The Wine Road. I hoped for the bubbly to usher in effervescence as I returned to not-so-bubbly thoughts and emotions from last week.
Look Good. Feel Good. Do Good.
When I attend events, I usually get noticed. Not immediately because of my personality2 but because I usually look good3. My grandma, who lived a beautiful life4 as a poet, cook, and seamstress, told me when I was a teenager that dressing up is a sign of respect – for the occasion, for the other people in attendance, and most importantly, for the self. She considered attire as a little preview of character5 and a little wink from the soul. When I asked her why she is always dressed up, she semi-morbidly said that life could end at any moment and when it does for her, she would like to meet God looking good6. I dress up because my grandma told me so and in my family, we do as grandma says.
Being stylishly put together also makes me feel good. It is comforting, spiritual, and uplifting. It makes daydreaming that I am a male model a little more within reach 7. Most importantly, personal style unlike many things, is something within my control; and it is therefore, empowering.
And when you are empowered, you have the ability to do good things.
Wine and Whispers
Last weekend’s social dynamic at the Wine Blogger’s Conference (WBC) in Santa Rosa, California was an example of something beyond my control. As expected, I got noticed; not for my style or washboard abs8, but because I was, apparently, notorious for being a despicable human being. You may refer to Part I of this series for the birth of my evil notoriety.
This started to manifest at the welcome mixer. There were some people I met last year who avoided me, even individuals I interacted with in my home city. There were social media and real life whispers, and I was the subject. I saw these things happening, and I felt the hostility. It boggled me how people I did not even know treated me with contempt. I said to myself: They must have already discovered9 that I broke into the Wine Bloggers Scholarship fund vault and spent the money on a tummy tuck10 and a face lift11. Or they must have already had early word of the news that I was responsible for the hundreds of fake Petrus circulating in China. Or, it could have been knowledge that I have been impersonating Deborah Parker-Wong12 and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson13. Impersonations, obviously that were doomed from the beginning as I am devoid of spectacular wine expertise to pass as these gloriously brilliant women of the wine world. Add to that that I am male and fat. Whichever it was, the propaganda was out and it was spreading fast, like the nasty wine and spit concoction from a spit bucket that someone14 accidentally toppled over.
I was wrong. It was a different story. Knowing so broke my heart into a hundred million pieces.
Brue Huh, apparently, was15 still afraid; and I don’t blame her. When she stayed in my apartment for four days, she must have seen what I usually carried in my Louis Vuitton16 messenger bag: Three different rusty medieval knives, a collapsible mini-bow with a spiked arrow, and 13 biles of Hemlock I purchased from a warlock in Warsaw17. I had deadly tools at my disposal and I was not afraid to use them. So yeah, her fear was legit.
When I approached, some people moved away.18 There were those, too, who did not want to sit with me. But I sat where I wanted and where there was an available seat. I mingled with individuals who were kind and unafraid to be seen speaking or associated with me; and I sipped wines from El Dorado, Napa, and Sonoma; and from other regions as Washington, Alsace, Lugano, and even New Jersey. I said to myself, if I could sip and swallow New Jersey wine19, then I could handle such social weirdness, too. I must say outside of the footnotes that the New Jersey wines were actually not bad. I tried the Vidal Blanc and loved it; not only because I remembered it to be a source grape for Ice Wine, but also because it was floral and fruity, but dry. I also thought the Chambourcin was fascinating and so different from the big bold California Cabs I adore. It was dry, yet medium in body with a little feisty pepper. I thought it was bold for New Jersey to represent in Wine Country in the midst of hundreds of discerning20 Wine Blogger palates.
I spent so much money to attend the WBC and I was not going to allow petty distractions to prevent me from attending and benefiting from the sessions.
I have moved on, but apparently Brue Huh has not, and a group of Wine Bloggers have come to her rescue. There were times when I could have confronted people who spoke ill of me or who made me uncomfortable, but I chose not to. I did not want to react in an undignified way. Their behavior was unfortunate, but understandable. I have not discussed details of what Brue Huh did and I believe she has told her story and revived other tragedies that have happened to her. It is natural for people to sympathize with the downtrodden and revolt against the oppressor; even when they are short of all the facts. A tragic story oftentimes suffices in gaining compassion, passion, and support, and on most occasions, it is easier to troll on the identified monster than to seek understanding.
I believe I understand why a group of people treated me with contempt, and although heartbreaking, I hold no ill feeling toward those who were hostile to me.
I intended to speak with Brue Huh and be cordial. Not as best friends, but as respectful colleagues in the wine world. I wanted to have wine and a dialogue with her – to understand how I may have made her feel and to hopefully understand, too, why she acted the way she did. But at the conference’s opening, it was apparent that she has not moved on and having previously seen how she reacts to things, I thought it would be smarter to not approach her. Not at the conference. Not this time.
There were alternative facts circulating around, and they were not in my favor. But there was also wine, lots and lots of wine. And when there is wine, there is peace. Momentarily, at least. There were beautiful21 people, too; lots and lots of beautiful people. And when there are beautiful people, there is joy. Momentary and lasting.
Life Goes On
I attended all four conference days in style and basked in the wonderful glory of overflowing fine wine and spectacular food to pair with them. I interacted with people I looked forward to seeing and interacting with, and I met new people, too. I tasted so many extraordinary wines, connected with wonderful wine makers and stewards of wine; and learned so much.
There were so many wonderful moments of delight that the drama, although lingering, dark, and draining, was inconsequential to me. Yes, it cost me the company of some people – but I would not have wanted to be in the company of ugliness and negativity anyway. Yes, I missed some after-parties, but I was too tired and my liver too overworked for me to drink some more anyway; and every night, dreamy Ryan Gosling22 was waiting in my hotel to make me forget about Regina George and her posse.
On the last day, after the world class Napa Valley excursion, I approached a friend I did not get to spend a lot of time with to kiss her goodbye. She held me and asked me how I really was. I could not lie to her. It was as if she has given me permission to be true, and my heart immediately gave in. I embarrassingly broke down and smeared mascara all over her fabulously radiant hair. Until that time, I did not realize how much the negativity affected me; but it did. It made sense, too, that it profoundly affected me: I, like any other human being, yearn to belong to a community; we all do. That is one of the reasons I attend the WBC. It is also one of the main reasons I love food and wine. Not only so I could endearingly refer to myself as a “fattie,” but even more because fabulous wine and food lead to extended time on the table with people. Delightful bites and sips are often punctuated by conversations and connections. Some temporary, but most with life-long effects on our soul and being. Inspiration, friendship, and oftentimes, even family-like connections happen.
My friend told me that she noticed I was not my usual gregarious self. Although I tried to fight the idea, I knew it was true. And I knew, too, that I should never let it happen again.
I Shall Return
I have been blessed with the company and support of incredible people who defied the natural tendency to ostracize the perceived oppressor and instead remain warm, kind, and understanding. As I told a friend, I am sure that the dark clouds served their purpose: To make the rainbow’s grand entrance even more dramatic and glorious. Rainbows and glitters. Yes, SO very gay, but so much better than sad, dull, and tearful. See you23 all in Walla Walla!
- Post coming soon.
- I am usually somewhat silent, reserved, and low-key.
- Yes, I said it: I. Look. Good. This is particularly true with my attire and style.
- Despite enduring so much blatant discrimination.
- True in most cases, as the adage says.
- We made sure this was the case when she passed on.
- Like, 10% more
- Queue daydream musical interlude.
- Queue dry humor warning and disclaimers.
- I need a refund.
- Refund needed, too
- I admire her so much.
- I am still star-struck whenever I see Andrea.
- Dude, you’re cut off!
- Perhaps, is.
- Let it be known that I cannot afford such a luxury item and it was a birthday gift from my very generous sister.
- Just kidding. I have not been to Poland.
- And it wasn’t because I followed the “no cologne” and no scented lotion advisement sent to WBC attendees, because you know, the Wine Bloggers are taking the Master Sommelier tasting exam at the WBC and their noses must be kept pure from non-wine fragrances.
- Kidding with you, as I know Jersey folks could handle it.
- Some, snobby.
- Physically and spiritually.
- Wine Bloggers