Irreverence is not a bad thing. It allows you to question norms and voice dissent against the establishment. In the snobbish and rather conservative world of wine, an irreverent approach can shed new light and infuse fresh energy into a traditionally stuffy subject, and open up the field to a wider audience.
Luck was by my side last week when I chanced upon one such dissenter of the wine world — American Gary Vaynerchuk, and his daily online video blog, Wine Library TV. I was listening to the 34-year-old self-trained wine expert give a TED talk about following one’s dream; a click on the link next to his name brought me to tv.winelibrary.com.
Vaynerchuk has a refreshingly unconventional approach wine, and he sets out his aim in the show’s tagline itself — ‘Changing the wine world’. Informally dressed, he dispenses with formal terminology without dumbing down the subject. Example — two of his pet phrases are “Let’s give this wine a sniffy sniff” and “This one is an oak monster!” In one particularly intriguing episode, he pairs regular breakfast cereal with wine. It’s evident that Vaynerchuk’s unorthodox approach is not a cover for ignorance — he meticulously (and convincingly) discusses the pros and cons of each pairing he makes.
The result is that he has been able to successfully deconstruct wines for lay people around the world. It’s not surprising then that his four-year and 800-episodes-old show logs today almost one million hits a day.There’s a lesson to be learnt here. Formal knowledge can be limited and limiting, and it pays to cast new light on old matters. Me? I’m off to give some wines a sniffy sniff.