FROM RAGE TO RIDGES

Somewhere in the first 50 seconds of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of” I caught a glimpse of what musical greatness sounds like, and I knew, in that moment, that my efforts at attaining it could only be met with VanGogh-esque poverty, self-loathing, and a laundry basket that would forever smell faintly of sweat and sweet failure.

So I quit my musical aspirations right there. In a majestic moment of empowering decisiveness.

Not really. In reality, I kept playing till my fingers bled (‘twas the summer of ‘99), betwixt bouts of pitiful pleading for the gods to bestow upon me the ability to ooze eye-watering megariffs from my fingers onto the maple neck of my Ibanez custom Artstar.

Instead, what I got for all my begging was an addictive personality type, a penchant for the pretentious, and an awful amore for alliterations.

Things I learnt from Jack

Seeing as no one was offering degrees in Verbose Pessimism, I did the next best thing and enrolled in UCT’s Film & Media Bachelor of Arts degree, which taught me how to be a better man.

Again, not really.

If anything, it taught me that, if I wanted to write female characters well, then I just needed to think of a man, and take away reason and accountability. Also, I learnt that though I might have wanted the truth, I couldn’t handle the truth, and that it was a bad idea to f*ck with the wrong marine (nowadays I just avoid all marines, you know, to play it safe).

Bundling up those valuable life lessons in a tartan dishcloth tied to a stick, I ventured out into the world of gainful employment as a journalist. My first post was at the prestigious tvplus magazine, where I learnt what it was like to contribute to the economy by précising episodes of The Young & the Restless and tipping off viewers to the upcoming WWE highlights (“Can Tombstone conquer Stone Cold? And will Booker T be able to free his magic dreadlock from Trish Stratus’s iron bra? Tune in to find out).

But while there was fun to be had using work hours to watch re-runs of Smallville (I still cry like a schoolgirl cutting onions during the 100th episode Jonathan Kent kicks it from a heart attack), I realized that there was more to our four-score-and-seven-years on this cosmic clod. So I quit my meaningless job and decided to work as a freelance journalist, freeing my up to do something really important with my life…

So I quit my meaningless job and decided to work as a freelance journalist, freeing my up to do something really important with my life…

Which turned out to be writing about which moisturizing creams will keep you moist, but not soft, and why Cubano Piloto tobacco seeds just don’t taste the same when grown in Nicaragua.

It was during this time, as a freelancer writing inserts for GQ, grooming guides for Men’s Health, trivia pieces for SA Sports Illustrated, and dating advice columns for Wicked Mag for Teenage Girls, that I discovered a love for coffee. In the fledgling South Africa specialty coffee industry, it took me little more than a year to interview pretty much every specialty coffee roastery in the country at that time (there are now more than 100 in Cape Town alone).
Fortunately, I was never forced to sign any restraint of trade or non-disclosure agreements during these interviews with various artisanal coffee enterprises, as I had seen enough to know that I wanted to roast coffee and not write about it. That was in 2010.

Why wine wins

Over the last 7 years I have been forced to delve into organic chemistry, sensory training, blind tastings, barista technique (at the hands of nigh-on-7ft Danish World Barista Champ), 12-hour coffee roasting shifts, espresso-tequila throw-downs, judging cocktail competitions, and regularly passing beams of light through cold espressos to see if, sometime in the recent past, they may have once been worth drinking. And I have learnt a number of crucial lessons along the way.

But probably the lesson that has been driven home most regularly is that it is never a good idea to set up any sort of coffee-related customer service next to a wine bar. Because coffee will lose.

Coffee will lose harder than Japan versus New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Heck, coffee will lose harder than South Africa versus Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Sure, coffee is magical, mysterious, exciting, alchemic, and forms a never-ending wonderland-esque rabbit hole of glorious sensory adventure… but it also makes you anxious and gives you the squits.

Wine, on the other hand, makes you feel smarter, sexier, more relaxed, and sometimes even comatose, which – when you’re a little on edge – can be a good thing.

Wine, on the other hand, makes you feel smarter, sexier, more relaxed, and sometimes even comatose, which – when you’re a little on edge – can be a good thing.

And so, while I will always be committed to professional anxiety and caffeine-induced gastric prolificacy, when the last espresso is served, and the roastery doors close, I drink wine. And sniff it, and most likely photograph it, too. I’m thorough that way.

This wine blog is my bid to strip down a topic that is far too often shrouded in dark clouds of uncle banana vapours and bullsh*t banalities. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good bit of pretense – every wine review I present will give detailed tips on how to be an absolute ponce – but ultimately my hope is to help each reader to discover what they love in the bottle, by learning to read both the sensory and contextual message that each wine delivers. Where a wine is made, when it’s made – and the person who has made it – can all add or detract from the joy one gets from each glass of wine. There is as much joy to be had learning about the spirit in which a wine is made, as there is from actually drinking it (I did say almost as much joy). My aim is to bring all those elements together in simple fashion, just in time to pull some corks and wile away the evening debating the chronological validity of Terminator films.

Cheers!