Comma Queens and Wine Geeks

Wine Tasting

'The first job I ever had, the summer I was fifteen, was checking feet at a public pool in Cleveland...I have never heard of foot checkers in any city besides Cleveland...and can only speculate that at one time there was an outbreak of athlete's foot on the shores of Lake Erie, and a crusading public health official, determined to stamp it out, hired all these people to check feet.'*

Thus Mary Norris explains, in the introduction to her excellent Between You and Me, that she did not set out to become a 'comma queen'. But that was before a desire to live and work in New York, a fondness for quality writing, and an unusual aptitude for spelling and grammar landed her in The New Yorker's copy department as a proofreader and 'Page Ok'er'. In her words: comma queen.

If Mary is the Comma Queen, I'd like to be on her court. I'm an inveterate grammar geek, and she not only champions one of my favorite causes, but manages to do so with an addictively mischievous, sarcastic wit. If you come into the store this week to find me helpless with laughter, I've probably just been reading her book. So perhaps it's no surprise I ended up in the wine business; the wine world is absolutely rife with geeks.

We get incredibly excited when a supplier brings us a wine with an unknown grape variety or new region. Better yet, a new country. Then we can pull out the reference books and geek out over whether Dolceaqua's Rossese is really the same as Proven├žal's Tibouren. Whether you can use Pinot Gris in Champagne. Or how long a Chianti Classico Gran Selezione has to age before release. We love the details. You might even say we live the details.

Just as you don't need the skills of a professional proofreader to enjoy quality literature, you don't need to be a turbo wine geek to drink great wine. But it never hurts to know one. If you're looking for some great wine, give us a shout. If you need a great read, pick up Between You and Me.

*Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris