If you get four wine people together and ask them one question, you’re likely to get at least seven different answers. That’s half the fun of wine discussions – the nuance, the context, the arguments – I love it all. The gratis wine and food certainly don’t hurt either. Thus when I get invited to speak on panels or judge competitions, it takes very little to convince me to attend.
That is unless a particular pretend-journalist is also an invitee. Teddy and I have known each other since we were both low level restaurant managers meeting after shifts to bitch about our tyrannical owners. I got Teddy into my wine tasting group – his talent was experiential rather than academic but he had a natural facility with descriptions.
Eventually he parlayed that ability into starting his own website. His small but loyal following grew when he got a mention from a mid-major publication. It was a “for fun project” that Teddy decided to make a for profit escape from restaurant life… he never really loved restaurants. A few sponsors came and then he made the decision to get in bed with a consortium of wineries.
He began taking monies from questionable sources and giving great press to those sources… and making a living and a name for himself in the process.
It was a souring experience for me, Teddy knew it, and it functionally ended our acquaintanceship. We would still see each other when he would occasional post at the late night places. I may not have been the most cordial to him.
A couple of years ago we found ourselves on the same panel discussion about something obscure that might only matter to 0.2 people who read this. It didn’t take long before the other people on the dais were just kind of watching us ping-pong increasingly personal points of disagreement. At one point, I might have accused him of “possessing analysis that has all of the depth of a hair-root.”
Teddy may have retorted something along the lines of “At least people know who I am and what I stand for unlike you and your shaky credibility and flighty career moves.”
I am fairly certain that I responded with “Yes, Teddy, we all know exactly what you are; the only debate is about the price.”
Surprisingly, there were no punches thrown. Not surprisingly, we have never appeared together since.