Expert (Noun) : A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area - Oxford Dictionary
People ask me for advice on a daily basis. I have spent almost a year and half learning about wine and have at least another year in front of me, at which point I will have completed the highest accolade given by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
I can (on a good day!) be given a wine and tell you what it is and maybe if you are lucky even what part of the world it is from. And yet I still wouldn't call myself an expert. This is for two reasons. The first is that the older I become and the more I learn about the world, the more I realise how much I have to learn. (I'm talking about wine for this post but it's becoming increasingly apparent that this is applicable to most aspects of grown up life). The second is the connotation of what being a wine expert gives off. It makes you sound like a posh wanker. I've tried to come up with a better word to describe myself : wine buff, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado but they all sound so pretentious.
Semantics aside being an expert (i.e working and studying) in this field does throw up some interesting quandaries.
You wouldn't ask a nurse whether or not they are injecting you with the correct vaccine or question your personal trainer as to if you really had to do that 3rd rep of weights, but the validity of my suggestions are upon occasion met with doubt and, in keeping with the society that we live in, subjected to approval via way of social media usually along the lines of a public rating service like Vivino or wine-searcher.com
This makes me feel one of three ways and often all at the same time
1) Oh crap. This is it. What if my suggestion really wasn't that good after all. Crap. What do I say if it's bad? Do I laugh it off? Do I dismiss it? Do I admit to being wrong even though I thought I was choosing the best thing. So much studying for nothing. Pleeeeeeaaaaasssseeee let them say good things about this wine. Why is the wifi taking so long to deliver my judgement?! They are going to think I have no clue what I'm on about if it says this is a shit wine and then they will never listen to a recommendation again. THEY ARE GOING TO COMPLAIN THAT I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA AND I'LL GET SACKED. DEAR GOD JUST PUT ME OUT OF THIS MISERY.
2) Why don't they just trust my advice. I'm an honest person. I wouldn't sell them crap intentionally. I've studied this stuff, I know what I'm on about...most of the time.
3) Fair enough. That bottle of wine would take me X amount of hours to earn. I would want to make sure it's not shit too.
The outcome of which leads to two reactions
1) I WAS RIGHT! Haha! You should trust yourself more, not so useless after all. Pat yourself on the back *Keep professional face on and just accept it with good grace*
2) Damn it.
Recently I spoke to a few colleagues about this stressing me out and whether they had noticed it was a growing trend too and one of them said something quite interesting. He said that we are the trained professionals with a (usually) more comprehensive palate and that they should trust us which got me thinking.
1) I am more knowledgeable about wine than my customers, I take into consideration what wine they usually like, what they are eating, their budget etc and therefore they should listen to what I am saying without checking it against none educated opinions. Does this not undermine the years of studying I have and will do? I use the word opinion on purpose here, as I have learnt to assess wine in a more technical manner than your average Joe would, surely that makes my opinion more valid?
2) Lighten the fuck up Aleesha. It's just wine. Now where is that bottle of Echo Falls fruit infusions....