Comedy writer Marissa Ross loves wine, and she wants you to love it too—but minus all the elitist nonsense. On her web series Ask a Wino and blog, the L.A.-based Ross, who also happens to be Mindy Kaling’s personal assistant, celebrates the glories of the vine with humour and enthusiasm. It’s a pretty intoxicating combo.
Ross talks to Flare.com about the connection between wine and comedy, her fave wines and the perfect Valentine’s Day bottle.
What made you start blogging and vlogging about wine?
It just naturally evolved from me blogging about my life. I’d come home, pour myself some wine and write. Wine became kind of a character itself in my comedy writing because my comedy would always come back to the fact I was drinking wine. In 2011, my friend Molly McAleer suggested I start reviewing all these wines that I was always drinking, and now here I am.
You’re a comedy writer. What’s the connection between wine and comedy for you?
Comedy for me is just about making life relatable and enjoyable, for myself and for others. And wine was not at all relatable. It was this intimidating, uninviting culture, and the only way I could deal with that was to find the humour in it and hope my humor would help random strangers on the Internet deal with it too. Because it sucks. It sucks that wine is this pretentious, serious thing. So much of life is serious; we should spend as much time laughing as possible. Especially over wine.
Wine lover or wine connoisseur? What’s the difference in your mind?
I think the two go hand in hand. If you really love wine, you will gain a great deal of knowledge. The only difference is whether or not you can spell “connoisseur” off the top of your head, which despite my best efforts I totally can’t.
Describe your education in wine? How have you developed a palate (I ask this because I have the palate of a Denny’s buffet chef.)
My education has come just from experience. I am always trying new wines, going to tastings and talking to people who know way more about wine than I do. For me, that’s the best way to learn. I hate studying and that sort of thing, so just getting out there and being interactive with wine and its community has been incredibly beneficial. And that’s how I’ve developed a palate, by just drinking as many different wines as possible. The more you drink the more you’re able to recognize different characteristics in different wines.
Where do you want your love of wine to take you, career-wise?
I know it sounds idealistic, but I really do just want to drink wine and make people laugh. I want to change the culture around wine drinking, and hopefully make some decent money and see more of the world while I’m at it. I really don’t know! I just know I love comedy and wine, and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and see what happens.
What was your last mind-blowing discovery?
Olivier Lemasson Les Vins Contés R13. I know everyone who reads my stuff who reads this will be like, “Please shut up about the f-ing R13!” but I really can’t! It changed my life! It smells like manure and tastes like heaven, something I didn’t know could exist until about eight months ago. It opened me up not only to the natural wine movement, but also to the glory of gamay.
Best wine for a newbie wine drinker?
Such a tough call. Most people I know start with sweet stuff, like moscatos and rieslings. Personally, I would say pinot noir is a great place to start. It’s fragrant, light and fruity. You won’t be overwhelmed but you’ll still have a nice bouquet and palate to explore.
Best wine for the polished palette?
I’m obsessed with Scribe winery and wish I was rolling in dough just so I could drink them every night. They’re in Sonoma, Calif., but their cabernet and pinot taste fresher and more vibrant than other California reds.
Best wine for beer drinkers?
I have no idea to be honest because I don’t really like beer (I know, blasphemy!). But if you like sour beers, definitely check out natural wines because they taste nearly the same.
Best wine in the world?
Impossible to say. So many wines are the best. Some for their accessibility and price point, some for their interesting flavour profiles, some because of where you were and who you were with when you drank it. I don’t think I could ever pick just one.
Valentine’s Day is approaching: is wine an acceptable gift of love?
It’s the best gift for everything.
What’s the perfect Valentine’s Day wine?
The P-U-R La Bulle Gamay Vin Mousseux. It has everything: a sexy label, bubbles and a beautiful rosy red colour, and it tastes like a less sugary version of Martenelli’s sparkling cider. It’s an absolute delight, whether you’re sharing it with a loved one or pairing it with Netflix for a quiet night in.