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Monday, June 11, 2012

Balance: Fitting In and Standing Out

My sister and brother-in-law recently visited Paris.  When I think of a place like Paris - while I’ve never been there - I imagine fine dining, great wine lists, beautiful scenery, and fashion-conscious Parisians.  One of the things that stood out on my mind when my sister and brother-in-law described Paris was that there weren’t very many Parisians carrying Chanel bags or wearing Louis Vuitton scarves.  Instead, while there were some wearing designer clothing and accessories, many instead wore tasteful, unique items that weren’t in the price range of the designer items, but were no less fashionable and in fact were different from the clothing and accessories sported by the next person.
I found that interesting.
Designer clothing, accessories, etc., are lovely for sure, and there’s nothing wrong with indulging in them from time to time - I’ll be the first to admit that.  But hearing what so many Parisians were wearing - simple, beautiful, unique clothing and accessories, got me to thinking.
Why do Americans prefer to spend so much money in order to look exactly the same as everyone else?  I thought about it and remembered how I had no desire for the Tickle Me Elmo and Furby that topped the lists of Christmas gifts when I was a kid.  Sometimes I wanted to have the same toys and clothing as my friends when growing up (yes, I had to have the Tamagotchi), but not always.  People don’t always have to look and act the same as each other.  When the trend is over, the item sits in a drawer somewhere, never to be worn or enjoyed again.
So many wine shop owners and employees have told me that this summer, they need to buy a ridiculous number of cases of Veuve Clicquot.  Why?  So people having summer parties can buy it, and everyone has the same Champagne.  I thought to myself, that seems kind of boring, attending all those summer parties and having to drink the exact same thing at every party, just to prove that everyone’s in style and can afford cases upon cases of Veuve Clicquot.
If all those people can afford Veuve Clicquot, then certainly they can afford something else, something unique that would be different from the wines at other parties.  Is it fun to have Veuve Clicquot sometimes?  Of course it is!  It’s a fun Champagne and the appearance of the yellow label seems to say summer.  But wouldn’t it be more fun and more efficient to pick something else sometimes, be a bit different from everyone else, and choose something of better quality that probably costs less?

Champagne and Sparkling Riesling Sekt

I’ll continue to change it up over the summer - sometimes Champagne and sparkling wines, sometimes dry whites, sometimes a lovely Rose from Cotes de Provence, and sometimes something completely different.  Sometimes I’ll want to fit in, and sometimes I’ll want to stand out.  My guess is that it’ll cost a lot less to stand out than it will to fit in.  I think balance is key - splurge a bit here and there on a label you know and trust, and then take a few risks on lesser-known, less expensive wines.  You might find some new favorites!

Rose Cremant de Provence

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