I don’t know


For some of us, the most difficult thing to say is: “I don’t know.”

It seems hard to admit that we have a lack of knowledge about anything and, we seem to think it’s a sign to the world that we have a weakness – that we have failed somewhere along the line.

Well, welcome to my world!

If admitting I don’t know something is a sign of weakness, I’m the weakest person alive.

But, of course, it’s hard for us to admit to this weakness, isn’t it? So what are we to do when faced with a situation we don’t understand? Do we try to steer the conversation to a subject with which we know at least a little? Do we bluff our way through the uncomfortable “I don’t know” moment and hope we’re not asked to explain anything? Do we escape from the place ASAP?

My experience with all this backs me into a corner and I have to admit — I don’t know the correct answer. However, I can relate some early stories about my journey into beer and wine processing so you can see some of my weaknesses.

My first sojourn into the world of beer happened at a wine tasting event. In conversing with a stranger, it became obvious he knew a heck of a lot more than I did about wine making so I steered him to the subject of making beer. It wasn’t that I knew so much about beer making but maybe we would both be at similar knowledge levels — if wine was our passion, beer would take a very weak secondary position with both of us, right?

Boy, was I wrong. When he started talking about the various hops, malts, yeasts and the types of beers that could be made by the many different combinations of these ingredients, I had to repeatedly admit I didn’t know this or that. Yes, I learned a lot from him but it was quite uncomfortable at first to admit to all those inadequacies. Luckily he was a gentleman toward me and I learned to take a moment of deficiency and turn it into a moment of learning opportunity.

During my discoveries about wine, I soon became of aware of wines from one country in which “I don’t know” fits perfectly. That country is France.

First of all, I have trouble reading and understanding French. My go-to remark about the French language is the French argue among themselves about their language so how do you expect little old me to understand it? It’s a weak argument – I know that but it doesn’t stop me from devoting a fair amount of time expanding my knowledge of French wines.

There are literally thousands of wine appellations in France and it’s almost impossible to learn all of them. From these numerous wine regions, an overwhelming number of wines appear – mind numbing numbers. Some people have spent gigantic amounts of time learning about French wines and good for them. I don’t have that much patience.

However, I do like French wines so the industry is a growth opportunity for me. For instance…

I had the opportunity to taste a Domaine Tinel-Blondelet 2018 Frétoy from the Sancerre region. I challenge you to understand what that name means and I know there are those of you who can read and understand French perfectly. For those of us with less French language ability, it’s a bottle of wine that comes from the Frétoy area in northwestern France and from a very small vineyard (Tinel-Blondelet) within a larger wine producing area (Domaine). The wine is a Sancerre – in this case, a white wine that’s quite acidic with high minerality.

Although pleasant tasting, it needed time to mature but I was most happy to have learned about the wine from my tasting experience.

I like the French Chardonnay that recently came to my attention – Maison Nicolas. It comes from the Pays d’Oc wine region that is located on the southern coast of France and is associated with the Languedoc-Roussilion wine regions.

Fortunately, the wine is easier to drink than it is to understand its origin and vineyard. Let’s just say it tasted soft, a bit peachy and topped off with a pleasing bit of creaminess. Easy drinking, a name that’s not hard to pronounce and, for a French wine, a good price. I don’t know what else to say about it.

I don’t know as much about French wines and probably never will know very much about them. I do know this – French wines are good, sometimes overrated but it’s always fun to try to pronounce all the French on the bottle.

I don’t know if I’ll ever succeed in that endeavor but, at least, I can say I’m trying.

I’ve learned to listen first, then think and then speak. It doesn’t always happen in that sequence and those around me who would be the first to remind me of that fact. They keep reminding me I don’t know everything – thank God, for that!

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!