Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The five or six of you who follow vinofictions may have noticed the absence of a post for a few weeks. What used to be weekly, slipped to every other week, and then to “post when I feel the urge.” Lately, the urge has been usurped by my activity reading and commenting on other wine blogs. Luckily for my real life, I don’t read all the wine blogs out there, but the ones I do read hold me fast at times: some for their humor, some for their glibness, some for their good writing, and some for their ability to raise the hairs on my back and motivate me to vent.

The other day, after I bemoaned my personal blogging fate, a wine industry colleague asked me why I don’t review wines. He knows me well, but obviously not well enough, as he believes that I have a decent palate for wine. Before I snapped back at my colleague with my standard quip, “why should anyone care what I like?” He said, “And don’t give me your standard response. Wine reviews are what people want from a blog.”

Little did my colleague know, but I had long ago come to that conclusion. It was in fact partly behind my choice not to write reviews. My whole life has been accented by an attempt to tweak prevailing wisdom or, with any serious good luck, to maybe change things.

Such hubris needs to be guarded against. The person who sets out to make change likely isn’t going to be the one to effect change—that happy fate often falls to the humble who plod along doing what they love, and doing it well.

Still, my colleague made me think.

Wine became part of my life as early as age seven in Brooklyn. Over my young years, I helped the next door neighbor who hailed from Napoli, as most of my neighborhood had. We loaded boxes of grapes into his cellar for him to press and I helped him move things around and clean up in the cellar. With my first sniff of just emptied barrels of wine that he had bottled, a lasting fume took residence in my soul. Later, I drank some of the wines (cut with water, of course) at our dinner table—they were all red wines, and they each reminded me of what we called tar beach, the smell of an asphalt rooftop in mid July. And they tasted like earth, and not really the Good Earth!

How curiously stimulating wine was to this seven-year-old.

Later, I became the only 19 year-old on the block that owned a corkscrew, used during those times when, flush with cash, I could forgo Thunderbird for a Monsieur Henri Selection to go with that tube of airplane glue. Hey, it was Brooklyn, circa 1960s; what did you expect?

As the years went by, I shed the glue and sundry bad habits and built a relationship with wine. Later still, my horizons opened during my military service in the Vietnam period, as I met people that had life experiences to teach me, and then by my own travel abroad after I got “back in the world,” as we used to say.

In the 1970s, I lived in Iran for two years around the same time as Cat Stevens, but neither for the same reason nor in the same place. My trip was for work and for education. Drinking Iranian Riesling and a red wine named 1001 began a thirty-plus year infatuation for me with the connection between wine and civilization. Then, it was on through Europe, with parts experienced along the soon-to-vanish last stops of the Orient Express. From Holland to Greece and many points between, I learned about food and wine, not to mention that I found cultures other than the American form—that actually work.

Soon, I found myself studying the winemaking process; then, I practiced at home what I learned; then, I was licensed to make the stuff commercially; then, licensed to sell it; and then, licensed to wax philosophic over it. Not really. There is no license for that. There’s also no license that gives you the privilege to tell others what a wine should be or taste like, and that was okay with me. I didn’t want the horns that I believe it takes to “know” the unknowable, what Lucifer promises but always manages to extract a price for in return.

It was always a mystery to me the way wine grips people. Today, the only thing that I think I know is that wine is elemental—like blood. Too often, however, instead of viewing wine as part of our id we place it squarely in the part of us that is ego.

With the launch of vinofictions about four years ago, my intention was to wade through the PR and the crap that surrounds the subject of wine and then try to tell things the way they are. It’s not only painfully clear that few people want to hear it, I am painfully aware of how egotistical my intention was.

Therefore, I’m not so sure when my next vinofictions post will be or if a next one materializes what the subject of it will be, but I am sure of one thing: I have no intention to review wines.

If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
February 2010. All rights reserved.


  1. Well, where are the comments from the five other readers?

    Sam, the time may have come for me to stop talking to myself.

  2. Thomas,
    Not that it means all that much, I'm just some foul mouthed chick on the other side of the country but...you can always just talk to me. I think we all, (meaning bloggers...least the ones that write with passion and bite) go through this, "Why bother" deal. I know I have and do often, in it right now as a matter of fact. Sucks but just so you know...I rather like listening to you, "talk to yourself".

  3. Sam,


    The difference, for me, is that I still do manage to get paid to write what I think I know about wine and the wine world. But that pay comes only from the print world (or when I find a publisher for a book), two parts of the information world that the online world thinks is dead but has yet to make up for with decent compensation (if any) for writers.

    The reason I started this blog was two-fold: to counter the prevailing messages about wine wherever I detected bullshit or misinformation; and to use the blog as a platform to reach those who seek writers. I did reach them, but only two out of dozens offered revenue, and one of those turned out to be a print magazine.

    Plus, the blog started with more readers than it has today. I'm assuming that the fall off is the result of either writing style or message--or both. In either case, it doesn't bode well for a vinofictions future plus, my wife wonders what I do locked in this room all friggin' day...

    What I have to do now is go finish an article for which a magazine plans to send a check when it's done.

  4. Tommaso, amidst all the bullshit and hype, you are an honest voice. You are also right on about the id vs the ego. After all, it is Dionysius and not Apollo. My uncle Cosmo, who lived to be 93 and ho was the last great story teller in my family, had a son and daughter who drank and dissected wine both in their own particular fashion. He told me one day "they drink wine but they never get drunk!"

  5. Hey, Marco. Nice to see you again.

    Based on my past, your uncle Cosmo would have been proud maybe not of my wine choices, but certainly of the results...

    "Honest voice." Are you saying that you believe there are a lot of lies out there?

    Hubris, misinformation, lack of training, maybe. But I'm not sure they are intended lies, except for the ones that are ;)

    Just to make sure the record is straight: I have my faults, too.

  6. I originally read this on the Al Jazeera wine website but wasn't able to comment there as I got some kind of Homeland Security Warning when I tried. But I always thought you might have a dirty little secret, and now I know - Iranian Riesling, ha!

    Word Verification : Shiraz(now I know "they" are watching)

  7. Alfonso,

    Salohm ala-ekam.

    Did you really get that word verification? If so, too cool.

    It was well before the Revolution of '79, but we already knew what was going down--along with the wine industry...

    PS: some proof exists that Shiraz did not originate in that city--but I don't believe the proof. That 1001 wine tasted very much like a Rhone.


  8. Honest, soulful, authentic, unpretentious...I think you know what I meant. It makes me weary to read the stuff compared to the experience of sharing good wine and food with people who appreciate its precious creation. It's the taken for granted attitude of cockiness and hubris that riles me.
    “If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: "He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned”

  9. Marco,

    I knew what you meant. It was my awkward way of trying to deflect praise.

    Epictetus indeed. Now you're talkin' man...among my philosopher favorites, at least the stuff of his that I could understand.

  10. #6 here. (Or 12, or 32, or 57....)

    You're not talking to yourself. Sam started a nice campaign of/for comments, so the rest of us wussies will chime in more often.
    Just 'cuz we're not always commenting doesn't mean we're not here!

    Excepting a couple of bloggers north and south of me (who know who they are, ahem), I don't read any blogs for wine reviews. And when those two parties do actually and occasionally write reviews, they're so completely entertaining and unusual, I'm compelled to delve in. The other 99.9% of online reviews are booorrrrriiiiinnnnnggg!

    I particularly liked your imaginative take on Ms. Palin going off to that conference in April as keynote speaker. Most inspired!


  11. Marvia,

    That Palin take was not imaginative--it's what I hope will happen...

  12. OOps, there's a v right next to my c--bad, bad, thing. Marcia!