COLUMN WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
For Digital First Media
This past Sunday 63 years ago, my mum gave birth to her eldest son in London. And her eldest son spent this past Sunday (Aug. 9) with his Mum, who now lives in New Jersey. And while we were thumbing through old photos and correspondence, a typewritten sheet fell out of one of the scrap books, and it was dated Aug. 9, 1995. I’m not sure whether it was an unpublished column or even a published one or, perhaps, a personal observation for my own future enjoyment, say, in 20 years’ time! Regardless, it takes me back to when I still wore bow ties and was everybody’s favorite radio and TV wine guru in Philly and beyond. Well before my “rock star” days of being heard on global radio! Here it is.
As my train sped through the New Jersey countryside, I peered sleepily out at the familiar landscape which I’ve Amtraked across for so many years traveling back and forth to the Big Apple. The journey was unchanged, the scenery was unchanged but my life, like so many other people’s lives, had most definitely changed — and I owe it entirely to the world of wine. I was returning from yet another excursion to the Food Network studios, in rumpled, comfortable, traveling clothes for the hot muggy day, whereas, usually, a suit, bow tie and other finery would have been worn for serious meetings. In the briefcase that once held wine lists, office necessities and note pads, I now carried camera friendly clothing, makeup and a script from the producer. I had been working with somebody I’ve known for almost 16 years and who is still the same bloke I remember from an earlier life, but now when he enters a room huge applause erupts for David Rosengarten, so that has also changed.
I was scheduled for another national TV appearance to chat about wine, in my typical irreverent, quirky style, which apparently makes me interesting to watch and listen to and read. There is an unprecedented thirst for good, basic, sound wine information, which is still lacking in our time of round-the-clock food news, views and reviews. So I’ve taken the initiative and nudged myself to the front of the queue of contenders (if indeed there were any qualified for this task) to lead a crusade of enlightenment, understanding and (dread the thought) enjoyment of the splendid drink known as wine. However, the most amazing resource for wine knowledge is the Internet, and I think I’ll have a presence on the worldwide web in the 21st century.
And there lies the rub, the source of many people’s discomfort with wine — intimidation, mystique and curiosity thwarted by the challenge of displaying one’s ignorance. All of these factors are real problems that can easily be overcome. They are in fact problems perhaps for those who genuinely believe wine appreciation is intimidating, mysterious and fully understood by the aficionados.
I can assure you that no single person on this planet knows everything there is to know about wine, and any air of superiority whatsoever is employed merely to deflect the deficiencies in that person’s questionable wealth of knowledge. But it needs someone like me to keep reminding you of this fact, and to keep telling you that whatever wine you enjoy, however little you want to spend and whether you like ice cubes in your wine glass or not, is your decision and yours alone.
There are no rules, and no person alive to insist otherwise. I’ve always believed this. It’s been my mantra, and it’s my only philosophy for living the wine life.
As the Philadelphia skyline shimmered in the late afternoon heat, I replayed my Food Network performance on my mental stage and concluded that the appearance was quite satisfactory. I had taped my wine segment in a fun, light-hearted manner that would ease millions of Americans gently into their wine glasses. They could now go out and confidently purchase their favorite tipple without apologizing for the selection they would be making. And that would most definitely be a change. So that’s all right then. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining