Amateur: celui qui aime
Years ago, before Bubblyothèque had taken shape, I attended a Champagne symposium/tasting (in New Orleans, in fact). A friend and champagne expert was participating on a panel and it seemed a great excuse for a visit to New Orleans. While I was already well along on my path to learning more about champagne, I saw this as an opportunity to learn even more and meet many of the winemakers.
It was in a room at the convention center with around 75 different producers, each pouring several of their wines. I started making my way around the room, tasting and learning. By the eighth or ninth table, each had asked in some manner "what do you do?", meaning how was I engaged in the wine industry. As I tried to explain that I didn't work in wine, they would quickly exclaim with a big smile (often in French), "Oh, you're an amateur!" I was starting to get a bit of a bruised ego, thinking to myself "but no, I actually know a lot about these wines, and care about champagne a lot, I'm not just somebody off the street who wandered in here..." Then, suddenly, my French memory kicked in and I realized that the smiles and enthusiastic recognition of me as a "champagne amateur" were offered in the literal sense in French, meaning a lover. While they were perhaps also designating me as a non-professional (as we more commonly use the word in English), they meant more than that and recognized I was there for my love of the wine.
Though my route to being involved with wine was via a different path than most take, I feel it helps me as I share my love of champagne with others who are only starting to learn about it. I, too, was a "newbie" once. And, as I realize my plans for le Bubblyothèque and move towards being engaged in wine in a more professional manner, I will always be, proudly, a champagne amateur.
Champagne is for amateurs.
Pop open a bottle of champagne and join me!