Growing up I was VERY quiet. At 18, I learned that it wasn’t just shyness but an anxiety disorder. Either way, I rarely asked for what I really wanted and therefore often just put up with things I didn’t want, whether in a relationship or at the coffee shop. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I became more outspoken about what I did and didn't like. While this might seem trivial it is incredibly frustrating to constantly keep your opinions to yourself and put up with others’ shitty behavior for the sake of being nice. I think we condition women to think that by speaking out they will seem gruff or bitchy and no one wants to be called a bitch so we remain quiet.
It really wasn’t until the 2016 election that I realized how often outspoken women are demonized and demeaned, particularly by men simply for speaking up about their opinions. That’s when I decided that that was enough. I was going to stop putting up with bullshit mansplaining, whether I was at work or the wine shop (because yes, it has happened in both places as well as many others). I actually stopped going to a certain wine shop in town because I asked for what I wanted (a Pét-Nat) and was given a lecture about how all sparkling wines are Pét-Nats (uh, what?). I’m no somm, but I have a basic knowledge of wine and to be treated like an unknowledgeable consumer was frustrating and insulting.
Anyhow, asking for what you want at a wine shop seems pretty basic, but it’s actually hard for a lot of people, especially if you are just switching from buying your wine at a grocery store to a legit wine shop. It can be real intimidating when you thought you were a high roller when you spent $15 on a bottle. However, go often enough and you’ll develop a rapport with the staff/owner and if they ever make you feel like shit, leave immediately and find a new spot, even if it’s a wine shop in N.Y. or L.A. that will ship to you; no one deserves to be talked down to. Most places are cool though in my experience.
Going to a legit wine shop, Underdog Wine Co. in K.C., rather than the grocery store for me coincided with the election and thus my deep feminist awakening (I was already quite feminist so post-election was like woah). After a few months of buying my wine there, I felt super comfortable with the staff and the owner. To the point where I said, “hey, I’m getting really into natural wine… can you get more of that?” And they did. I also took a trip last spring to visit my friend, Ursula, in L.A. and had so much good wine-- most of which was natural. As soon as I came back I showed the owner of the wine shop everything I tried, including one particular bottle that was life-changing and I had to have again. It was the j. brix Cobolorum Riesling Pét-Nat. So funky and volatile (see my original review here). I asked the owner if he could get it for me and guess what, he did! Sure, it took some time, but it is here now and it is delightful, as good if not better than I remember and maybe it tastes extra good because I ASKED FOR WHAT I WANTED AND GOT IT.
If you’ve always been outspoken, this post might not resonate with you, but for those of you that have stayed quiet on issues big and small, I hope you can gain some confidence and speak up for what you want, even if it’s just at your wine shop. It’s not always men that talk down to me, but let’s get real, it usually is and for some reason, I have a harder time calling them out than I do women. Here is a quote from Rebecca Solnit that helps me a lot, “Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they are talking about. Some men.” So stay strong and ask for what you want, at your wine shop and in life.