I thought it would be fun to capture my personal evolution since starting to seriously study wine over the past several years.
Here are five things – personal behaviors and social experiences – that happen regularly in my life that didn’t happen before I started popping open wine bottles with studious intent (or so I’ve convinced myself).
1. The Dreaded Question: What’s Your Favorite Wine?
Whenever people ask me casually what I do for fun and I let them know that I’m really into wine, invariably the next question is always:
What’s your favorite wine?
This. Happens. A Lot.
How’s the expression go? I could no sooner pick a favorite star in the sky…
I drink a gamut of different wines that are stylistically distinct – colors, grapes, and price points.
That said, there are a few things that I’m not too big on at the moment. I say that because I may well change my mind and enjoy them at some other point in my life. This is allowed.
Here’s what I’m not too keen on:
- High alcohol wines. High alcohol wines that top 14.5% to 16% ABV challenge me. Personally, I can only have one moderate glass of high alcohol wine in a sitting, which means sipping conservatively through my dinner.
In my perfect vinous world, alcohol levels are more restrained, like a librarian with a bondage fetish – something sexy simmers inside.
For me, this can translate into one generous or even TWO **gasp** glasses of wine over the course of a long evening without getting snockered.
- Big Reds with Oak. Brawny, bold reds with heavy oak extraction that bruise your gums (and likely touting heavy alcohol) – yeah, not my favorite. I’m sensitive to oak, and for me it can overpower wines masking the more nuanced fruit flavors that really get me excited about wine.
Other than those two categories, I’m game for just about anything. Are you?
2. I Get to Drink Lots of Delicious Wines
Wine is a social drink. It comes in a 750 ml bottle which is about 4 to 5 glasses. One person cannot (or should not) drink the entire bottle alone in one sitting.
And wine’s perishable, meaning that once it’s open, the bottle has a definite shelf life. These two factors combined make wine very much a social drink that yearns to be shared with others.
A Life of Lovely Bottles
The wonderful people in my life who know I’m into wine love sharing their favorite bottles with me. Whether it’s a grocery store bargain wine or a hoity-toity estate bottle, these fine vinos wind up in my life regularly.
3. No More Bagged Salad or Pre-cut Carrots
I rarely eat bagged salad or pre-cut carrots anymore, which may seem odd.
A notorious wine fault, called cork taint, is caused by 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (it goes by the much catchier name T.C.A. for short). This chemical causes a moldy note in certain food products.
Many of the bagged salad and pre-cut carrot producers have TCA in their manufacturing or processing plants.
It’s gotten to the point when I open a bag of salad and can smell it immediately.
An off-putting aroma, TCA sticks around in the mouth, and I just dump the veg.
4. I Spend More Time Selecting My Wine than Meal Planning
As a family with food allergies, most of our meals we make and enjoy at home. And as a working parent, most of those meals are functional rather than fanciful.
Just like any other busy family, meal planning involves foods that can be made ahead of time or prepared on the go with minimal fuss.
Wine, however, always plays a starring role.
This involves starting dinner and then walking over to the wine shelf with intent, thinking about the flavors and textures of spaghetti, tuna casserole, chili, or grilled cheese.
“What wine will accompany our Wednesday evening meal?” I ponder.
Sometimes the obvious choice jumps right out. Other nights this decision-making process involves selecting several bottles and contemplating their various merits, lining them up side by side before making a choice.
This is one of my favorite parts of my day.
5. I Dump Wine with Abandon
I don’t quite remember when I crossed the line between “it’s good enough and I’m gonna drink it because it’s wine,” to “it’s not something I want to put in my body,” but I’ve crossed that line.
There’s no going back to the before times.
Wines that are out of balance, generally unpleasant, not quite my style, or that have been open for one day too long and lost their verve, all get poured down the sink.
To be fair, this isn’t much of a sacrifice on my end, because I just walk over to the wine shelf and pick a new bottle (see Thing Number Four: a favorite part of my day).