I have to apologize to many of the sommeliers who have enhanced my meals over the years: I wasn\u2019t my truest, most authentic self with you. I\u2019m sure you don\u2019t care\u2014in an ideal scenario, you stop thinking about me the second you walk away from my table. But so many of you have told me that you want guests to be honest and open.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s only now that we\u2019re apart I realize I haven\u2019t always been.\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve always so enjoyed our ritual. I tell you what wines I like, we discuss the dishes I\u2019m eating. You don\u2019t just recommend a glass or bottle\u2014you usually teach me something. Maybe you expose me to a region or style I haven\u2019t experienced, or you clue me in to the benefit of some winemaking technique.\r\n\r\nI love this interaction so much that I slip into my role, reflexively fawning over the beauty of your selections. Now, I can see that it\u2019s been bit of a distraction from just enjoying.\r\n\r\nThe past year and a half has been hard on all you somms. You\u2019ve agitated for to-go wine service in many states; some of you have had to sell off parts of your cellars; and all of you have had to figure out how to find the best wine for each dish and each diner without interaction.\r\n\r\nAt the same time, in the privacy of my home, with only my dog and wine-averse husband by my table, I\u2019ve learned to be adventurous with my pairings in a new way.\r\n\r\nI don\u2019t think any decent somm would ever judge me for pairing, say, a crisp glass of Viognier with a lazy dinner of tinned fish, olives and crackers, but I think a good one might point me toward something less aromatic and more mineral-driven. I think they\u2019d be right, save for the pleasure of finding something that works unexpectedly and lets me feel like a bit of a rebel.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSimilarly, when I\u2019ve ordered a bottle of wine with takeout from a nice restaurant, I haven\u2019t felt any pressure to pick the perfect wine for my order. I just pick a bottle I want to try. If it doesn\u2019t work, it can serve as inspiration for the following night\u2019s dinner. In a pinch, there\u2019s always beer in my fridge.\r\n\r\nThe last bit of freedom I\u2019ve noticed is that I\u2019ve just been drinking slower, spending more time nosing and analyzing. And then taking a bite of food, and doing it again. I never have to worry about camping out, because no one\u2019s waiting to turn over my dining room table.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s been an enlightening way to drink. Whenever you somms are ready to have me back, I\u2019ll share this newfound free spirit with you.