Taking the wrong Stairway to Heaven

I really enjoyed reading an interview with LCD Soundsytem’s James Murphy in the latest edition of the fantastic Noble Rot Magazine and it brought back a painful, but amusing memory from my teenage years.

Say ahhhh

Say ahhhh

The story concerns James’ experience when buying his very first record, This Charming Man, by The Smiths, but ending up asking for The Smith Brothers (the wrong band) and experiencing derision from the store owner. The fear of this will be familiar to many wine consumers.

The story is in the introduction to Noble Rot’s series of articles on Jura wines, and in the style of this magazine, it is not a dry “wine education” piece, but juxtaposed with wonderful characters from outside wine – otherwise known as ‘Real Life’.

I have to admit that I had the a very similar experience, returning from the US trying to buy an album I’d heard over there in 1986. I asked the staff in my local record shop for “the album with ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on it”. I was never sure whether it was their stupidity, or actual malice, which resulted in me going home with a copy of Neil Sedaka’s Greatest Hits, but … we’ve all been there.

James says:

“I grew up terrified of being wrong all the time, and it taught me not to shoot my mouth off if I didn’t know my stuff. I don’t think some people understand that anymore. They have a sense of assurance that doesn’t seem to come from personal strength, but from a backing that I never had.”

I can see how this might be true of many things, but unfortunately it is not true of wine. For too many there still exists a fear of saying something ‘wrong’ about wine and suffering ridicule. Maybe it was this experience that makes me want to do the opposite, and try and help navigate the world of wine if I can, yet also feeling lost myself.

How many times have we all repeated stories of the person who said they ‘didn’t drink Chardonnay but love Chablis’, and laughed? Is ridicule really a transformative experience, or are we stopping people caring to share our view of the world?

Hey, wine geeks! Don’t be the ***hole in the record shop! Please let them walk home with the Led Zeppelin instead of this:

[Edited for clarification 17:36, 24/4/14]