Jay McInerney, Why Don’t You Ever Call?
It was my Sophie’s Choice. How could I decide whom I loved best when two equally luminous beacons of vino-rrific wine writing shared my heart? Even worse, how might I love anew without denigrating the memory of my original paramour? Unfortunately after reading Jay McInerney’s inaugural Tastings column for the Wall Street Journal, my heart wasn’t split but was sunk. After months of frenzied internet speculation, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Mr. McInerney and Ms. Lettie Teague will be alternating weeks at the helm of the weekend On Wine column. They are now a permanent installation, filling the shoes of the much missed husband and wife team John Brecher and Dottie Gaiter. You probably recall that I am still a fanatical devotee of John and Dottie’s prose, but prone as I am to soft-core celebrity stalking, Mr. McInerney has me quite bewitched. He is probably my #1 writer-crush, which is itself a ridiculous seduction as you’d never see Mr. McInerney posing bare-chested and pouty as a bikini-briefed Cosmopolitan centerfold.
I have always loved his wine writing style, a breezy, intimate affair littered with smart allusions to pop culture and all kinds of sexy. Equal parts wine geek and social observer, he gets titillating goose bumps from the “semi obscure” wines of Alsace all while immodestly ogling a local winemaker’s wife whom he compares to classic beauty Tea Leoni. Yes, I am easily charmed. His best wine columns from Home and Garden magazine have been published in two great collections: Bacchus and Me and A Hedonist in the Cellar. So I really, really wanted to love his first WSJ column, but it left me cold – out in the cold, all by myself. While Mr. McInerney was prancing around the rarefied world of $160,000 Italian racecars, I felt like the jilted lover, last year’s discarded goods. To those who don’t subscribe, his first column profiled Dom Pérignon Rosé, more specifically the 1990 Dom Pérignon Œnothèque Rosé, which retails for nearly $400 a bottle. Sure perfection and artistry in a glass are just that. And bubby perfection comes at a steep price. But dear Jay, you have sent me a clear message. I’m an outsider peering into your awesome, amazing, celebrity-suffused existence. The pink tinged fantasy of Dom Pérignon Œnothèque Rosé exudes such over the top fabulousness that even the Real Housewives of New York City seem like inelegant party crashers. This is no place for suburban “soccer moms,” even us edgy ones who drink Riesling. I am uncomfortable and out of my league here.
John and Dottie’s greatest charm was their accessibility. “Wine for the People!” their columns declared. They’d urge us readers to seek out our first Carmenere or cajole us into retrying Beaujolais Nouveau. We were complicit in their wine journey, exploring new finds together, like alcoholic compatriots. But Mr. McInerney, your first column was like pining after some phantasmagorical couture lay out in Vogue or an impossibly, immaculate home in Architectural Digest. This is a fantasy world, a fairy tale – no place for me. Give me a wine I can turn to after my kid has decorated her bedroom wall with permanent Sharpie pens, preferably something I can grab on the fly at Trader Joes.
Listen, I am all for special occasion wines, and I truly wish every family dinner in our home could be granted “special occasion” dispensation. We all need more beauty, more splurges, and far more indulgences in our busy, overextended, mean little lives. But sadly, most nights, a $12 vino from Costco is as good as it gets. Because Mr. McInerney, your prose has been known to make my ovaries tingle, I’ll still be looking for your column next weekend. So darling Jay, please woo me back and show me something I can drink with dinner tonight.