Like Channing Tatum, Justina Machado, Sara Bareilles, and the Progressive lady, Amy Poehler sits high—very high—on my list of irrational loves. I want good things for her! I’m invested in her personal well-being! So when she echoes something I believe, it makes me feel like we’re on the same page. (Celebrity is a strange thing.) The latest thing that me and my close, personal not-friend Amy Poehler agree on? Wine tasting should be fun, and not some kind of test.
That’s the underlying theme of a section of this interview with Jimmy Fallon, who Poehler visited at The Tonight Show to promote Wine Country, the new Netflix film which marks her film directing debut (she’s also one of its stars, and is co-credited on the story). In it, a group of friends head to, you guessed it, wine country for the 50th birthday of Rachel Dratch’s character; in the segment, Poehler reveals one big thing she learned about wine tasting: “If you describe wine confidently, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything.” Skip to 3:32 for the relevant bits, assuming you want to skip anything Amy Poehler says, but why would you? She is wonderful.
Poehler’s suggested remarks include things like “Oh, she has an interesting story,” and “This one’s shy,” both of which make no sense and thus would be perfectly appropriate as a way to describe wine (though in the case of the latter, maybe not a robust wine? But also who cares.) There’s also “This one tastes like recent history,” which would in theory be bad at the moment. The point is, just say stuff! It could work!
They also share a clip, which sort of underlines the point my close personal friend Amy Poehler may or may not be deliberately making, but which I’d like to draw out. In it, Poehler’s character and Dratch’s character are tasting wine, and the person conducting their tasting is asking them to list the notes they’re getting on the nose. “There are no wrong answers,” he says, before shooting down everything Dratch says.
Folks, in my days as a fancy booze shopgirl, I have seen a lot of tastings. The best ones are always congenial, conversational, and fun. The winemakers, representatives, or sommeliers explain a lot about the wine, but they also want to hear what the person doing the tasting thinks—and they never say, “No, there’s no peaches.” They’d say, “That’s interesting, I get more citrus fruit but there’s definitely a juiciness to it” or something like that. The point is not to shit all over the people who are there to taste, enjoy, and maybe learn. And if what you smell is “grapes,” you are correct, there are grapes in there.
As far as I’m concerned, there actually are no wrong answers, because it’s all experiential. (What really is the color blue, anyway?) If you’re doing a wine tasting and you feel like the person conducting the tasting is quizzing you, GTFO. Life is too short to be low-key bullied about rosé. You like what you like, you taste what you taste, and if all else fails, you can always say the wine tastes like recent history. No one can really say otherwise.
Glad we could come together on this issue, Amy!