Wine. I know… it’s a scary subject. There are so many types, grapes, regions, and an unending list of things that make this this or that that. I know it can be a huge fear of many people to go into a nice restaurant, be handed the wine list, and have to pretend to “peruse” it before making a half-hearted decision. I know because I used to be one of those people.
It’s terrifying to be on a date and the wine list arrives and upon opening it there are names like “Merlot”, “Chinon”, “Sancerre”, “Burgundy”, “Gewurztraminer”, “Shiraz”, and “Vouvray”. Which is red? Which is white? I think wine from Burgundy is red? Is Sancerre like a Sazerac? Hopefully there’s a sommelier to help make this experience easier, but in the event there’s not, you’re on your own and your date is probably wondering why you’re beginning to sweat.
Wine has always interested me. It could be the panache, the status, and the sense of “cool” that comes with it. People who know wine are considered to be sophisticated and romantic. But I never gave wine a chance because of the fear of my own ignorance about it.
As a child, my parents used to let me have wine mixed with water on special occasions (this is fairly common practice in Europe) and I hated it. All through college I probably drank a total of 10 bottles of wine. I hated it, but my hatred had become a bit more refined. I hated white because it tasted awful and I hated red because it dried my mouth out. I didn’t get why this form of alcohol was so popular when tequila and beer were so much tastier and easier to drink.
A few years ago, I became interested in alcohol production and went down the rabbit hole of research about it. Of all the different types of booze, wine captured my imagination the most. I dove headfirst into all things wine. I became a member of the wine club at my local liquor store and tried dozens of wines from different manufacturers while keeping a wine journal of what I’d tried and liked. It was actually really exciting and fun trying to pick out flavors and, over time, beginning to taste the difference between this Pinot Noir and that one.
Also, wine is tangled in our history as a species and could be one of the reasons we have survived and flourished for so long. Remnants of winemaking date back 6,000 years and wine has been consumed and used as a medicine into the present day. In moderation it’s good for our hearts and the amount of wine varietals means it’s impossible to get bored because there’s always more to try.
Over the month, I’ll be sharing some wine knowledge that I hope will make the next time you hold a wine list less daunting.