WORDS BY LAURA JANE FAULDS
ILLUSTRATION BY JEN MAY
I wanted to get a gold nameplate necklace spelling out the name of a wine grape, but I couldn’t decide which one. My two favourites, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, are each two words long, which posed a problem: I would have to jarringly interrupt the flow of the pendant’s perfect cursive to introduce a capital letter mid-word, CabernetFranc or CheninBlanc, which are both horrible-looking and remind me of names of mid-nineties tech start-ups: HydraSonic, IntraTek, UniCorp. Alternately, I could buy two necklaces (say: one Chenin and one Blanc), with one chain slightly longer, but then the chains would get tangled up in each other, and I’d have to wear two necklaces.
I (truly) spent years mulling over which one-word wine grape I’d most like to champion: Chardonnay was too on-the-nose, and somehow the physicality of the word itself connotes a trash-glam aesthetic I don’t really relate to. Nebbiolo would be too loopy-looking: same goes for Tempranillo. Lord knows I love a single-varietal Carignan, but nobody’s ever heard of it, and I didn’t feel like explaining it to people all the time. Malbec? Sangiovese? Regal, yes, but not in my wheelhouse, non-options. Mourvèdre I adore, but like Carignan, it’s too niche. Syrah looks like Mynah bird and I don’t even love it; Shiraz I don’t acknowledge as being a real thing. When people talk to me about Shiraz, I assholeishly repeat it as “Syrah” back to them.
Viognier, Grenache, Riesling, Dolcetto. These were my last grapes standing.
Late last spring, I co-hosted a staff wine tasting with my ex-wine boss, who was visiting from LA. We tasted a dry, weirdly-minerally Riesling from Piemonte, and he told us the story of the time he’d met an Austrian Riesling producer with a tattoo on his inner forearm of the word “RIESLING” in a garish, fifties-horror-movie style font, surrounded by images of skulls, demons, lightning bolts and the flames of hell.
The staff were delighted, and I asked “Can I date him?” to make them laugh. In my head, I thought, “If someone believes in Riesling enough to ink it onto their body for the entire rest of their life, the least I can do is write it on a necklace,” and the next day I finally purchased my wine-grape-nameplate, off a poorly-designed website called MyNameNecklace.com.
Once it arrived, I never took it of. I wore it every single day for the next eight months— “Is that your name?” people sometimes asked, and I would say “I wish!”
Even more frequently, and expectedly, “Is Riesling your favourite?” people would ask, to which I always replied:
“It’s not my favourite wine grape, but it’s certainly the noblest.”