Now, I don’t think wine lists should have descriptions of the wines at all, especially not cutesy or clever ones. It’s pointless: there’s nothing any writer could do to stop the names of the wines from being the most beautiful words on the page. Just try and write a sentence that looks as good as, for instance, Méo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanée Premier— no— 1er Cru, or even just ‘1er Cru,’ when you write it like that, with the 1. Imagine opening up a pretty old book to any page and seeing those beautiful words written down in the middle of it. Your eye would be drawn to them. See how ugly the sentence "Your eye would be drawn to them" looks comparatively?
So that’s the first thing I want to say about the imaginary wine list I'm writing about: it doesn’t have descriptions. And it would be shaped like a book, and bound. It’s alright when wine lists are just one long piece of paper but I hate when they’re something so precious, a clipboard or a duo-tang or whatever. Some “fresh new take” on a wine list being a wine list. Give me a break.
The wine list I'm writing about doesn't exist because, if it did, I would have to write it, it would have to belong to my wine bar, and I don't want to have a wine bar. I’m too lazy, not rich enough, and also, I don’t really like wine bars. I go to them because I have to, because I’m a person who lives in a city in North America and likes to drink good wine— but I also think that no wine can be enjoyed to its fullest at a WINE BAR in a CITY in NORTH AMERICA. Wine tastes first-best on the vineyard where it’s made, second-best in a bar/restaurant close to where it’s made (which would probably never be called a “wine bar,” unless you’re in California), third-best in a person’s home close to where it’s made, a hundredth-best in some drippy wine bar in Cleveland or Vancouver or whatever. Whenever a new wine bar opens up in Toronto and a person tells me it’s “good,” I take it with a grain of salt. You have to assume that every wine bar in your city is necessarily an abomination, and then grade it on a curve.
If I were ever rich enough to open up a wine bar, I’d also have to be bored. Like, the richest, boredest person you could imagine. If I were just regular rich and bored, I’d want to go work on a vineyard and do physical labour for the love of the game; if I were very rich and bored, I'd get a job working as a food runner at a restaurant. Food runner is my favourite job— it’s so easy, and you never have to talk to a person. So, in this fake scenario, I would already have had to carry out those two phases of rich person boredom for long enough that I’d have reached a point of no longer being satisfied by my food-running gig, which seems impossible, but, you know. Stranger things have happened, I guess.
So that’s the back-story. I’d quit my job as a fifty-five year old food runner, move back to Toronto, and open up a wine bar. I’d call it John F. Kennedy International Airport— no, John F. Kennedy Int’l Airport, Int’l, with the apostrophe. Not for any real reason: I just think it’s a solid name. And I hate when wine bar names are so transparent about the wine bar being a wine bar. Like, calm down. If your wine bar is a wine bar, we’ll figure out that it’s a wine bar. You don’t have to name it “Tannin.”
At John F. Kennedy Int’l Airport, the wine by the glass list would be a small slip of paper paper-clipped to the front of the wine-book wine-list. It would be written in inky black Micron pen in my cutesy loopy penmanship, then photocopied using an inky-smelling Xerox machine from twenty-five years ago (or, fifty years ago, since my wine bar is set twenty-five years in the future), and the belly of the machine would overheat, and you could warm your hands on it, and when the paper printed out it would feel hot too.