I am a wine enthusiast

By actual career experience I work in technology and management consulting, and in that space I’ve been lucky enough to be on the “nice” side of an expense account a few times.  I also love to occasionally indulge in a luxury food and wine experience so between that and the work dinners, I’ve gathered a lot of insights into wines.

The Past

These insights though, tended to take the form of “I really LOVED that wine” as some declaration and a summary of trends.  For example, I’ve only ever had one Pinot Grigio that impressed me (at Don Alfonso 1890, it was really charming) and I avoid it unless it’s what the group is drinking, because it has no allure to me.  I also am a little daft and silly so I started describing wines with really absurd terms, mostly to be a clown and amuse my friends but started to think, I know there is a real language and an actual template against which people taste so they can articulate their thoughts and I was just unable to really explain what I meant, especially to people who know what they are talking about.

Quotes from me before I studied wine:

“I generally don’t like it when I taste banana in wine” (Ok I’ve learned there are exceptions but probably a wise comment in retrospect.)

“That is VEERSHT” (said with a German accent, it’s not a word but an invention of mine, sometimes I make up words to confuse people) Had I known the language I would have said, that is exceptionally dry and acidic, and doesn’t have enough balance to tackle the super-high acidity here.  So I know better words now.

“This wine is very more-ish”  ok I still say that when I want more of a wine but now I can tell you why.

So I tried to learn some language and a mental template of wine so I could better communicate my love of wines.

The impetus to learn something official.

In about 2016 (no doubt after declaring some absurd wine description with confidence at some event) I was asked to teach some of the younger people at a consulting firm a little about wine, and I realized I needed help, sure I had some of the basics, but I was pretty sure that VEERSHT wasn’t a known descriptor, so I looked it up. No.  it’s not.  I suspected there were dimensions I needed to learn.  I brought in a friend who at the time was studying WSET 3 (now a diploma holder) to help me – after all, I didn’t want to teach the wrong thing, it’s one thing to joke about it but another thing to misinform people.  Now I’m at level WSET 3 and taking Champagne Master because, well, I really love Champagne.  (ok, and the Rhone, I love the Rhone too but more on that later).

During that learning session I had a moment when my imported instructor brought to the tasting a little gem called Condrieu.  It’s from the Cote Rotie of the Northern Rhone and is 100% viognier.  I’ve had viognier before and was thinking, “ok we have to cover this I guess” and I had a sip and my mind was blown.  As they say in French, it was my “coup de foudre” (you know, getting struck by lightning or something like that) for wine.  I never knew viognier could taste like that and it started a ripple effect where all of a sudden I wanted to try all the different grapes and learn about all the wonderful wine permutations out there to see if I could uncover some other hidden gems.

I wanted to learn the template of wines in the globe, you know, what grows where, what are the different styles, so I took WSET 2, which was fun and informative.  After that I started to experiment with doing tastings in many of the regions.  I learned that I have regional preferences and have been diving into rabbit holes for many regions now (should we call them region holes?)   It started with Champagne as I always truly love it and progressed through different regions.  There are always gems out there though,

A few observations I’ve gathered on the way

You can never really learn Burgundy.  It’s crazy and wonderful and I’m not evolved enough to get it yet (maybe one day?) but I know it’s super special.

Bordeaux is wonderful but everyone is into it.  I’m a huge fan of all of it but it’s a sport region.  Trading futures, investments, amazing history but since it’s so done I haven’t tackled it fully yet.  Also know that it’s hard to go wrong ordering a Bordeaux claret for a client 😊 Everyone’s heard of them and they are delicious.

Travelling to other lands I am a huge fan of Tasmanian sparkling wine, Oregon Pinot Noir, basically all of Italy with a special love for north and south – Nebbiolo’s and the lovely grapes from the volcanic soil of Mt. Etna.  South America has some wonderful surprises, but I haven’t’ given it enough attention yet.  I’ve been to the Western Cape in South Africa wine tasting as well and I’ll write a blog update on that later, including some of my wonderful finds there.  So there’s a lot to discuss, especially with those of you who are early on your journey as I am.

I look forward to sharing these thoughts through some reviews and comments as I progress on my wine journey, and hope you’ll join me for parts of it on the way!