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.
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!