Pouring wine

Words, Jesse Jackson IV |
Photography, Reed J Kenney | Jeremy Levinson

Often, when eating with friends, I’ll devour the wine list - asking questions some may (fairly) say are a bit too involved for a cafe lunch. These questions may require the involvement of the sommelier, should one be in the employ of whatever establishment we are frequenting; this service is, increasingly, a make or break distinction. Nevertheless, although this may extend the time dedicated to the initial drink order, I have found this level of curiosity oft rewarded - from discovering a gem on the wine list, to forging lasting friendships.

This enthusiast mindset permeates much of what I am interested in - fine tailoring, photography, and watches. Interestingly, at least for me, I explicitly reject being referred to as a connoisseur of these things. Connoisseurship implies a level of expertise that can be challenged by the cynical. “Oh, you’re a wine connoisseur? Tell me more about the characteristics of the terroir in the Bouzy region.”

In the distance

The ability to answer that question notwithstanding, with connoisseurship comes a certain grandstanding that is distasteful. General enthusiasm, on the other hand, comes without judgement or a perceived barrier to entry level of expertise, with no upper ceiling on knowledge. Enthusiasts may congregate, share stories, and learn from each other with no need to prove they belong.

Ultimately, the distinction is in the state of mind. Many enthusiasts could fairly be termed connoisseurs. However, the enthusiast welcomes others into the fold with open arms. The enthusiast never stops learning, and is always excited to discover and share something new about their passions.

Jared swirling a Burgundy

I am an enthusiast.