The world of wine is vast. It crosses continents, cultures and millennia, landing in your living room.
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Our Wine Stories
Growing up people used to tell my mother how much I looked like her; until they met my father. In my case, the grape did not fall far from the vine. Like most boys, I got my first drink at his side. That meant being exposed to the wines that he liked, which was primarily new world Cabernet Sauvignon.
Starting from a full bodied, tannic wine, it took me a long time to develop a pallet for other types of wine. Like Zoolander, who was not an ambiturner (I can’t go left!), I was not an ambi-drinker. I couldn’t go white.
When I was younger, I didn’t have much of a taste for old world wine, with its greater complexity and terroir and less full-bodied fruit flavour. My cousin, who is ten years older than me, said, “Yeah, wait ‘til you turn 30.” Sure enough, right around my 28th birthday, I started to really get into old world wine, French in particular.
I saw a suggestion somewhere that if you liked red wine and thought you didn’t like white, that you should try Riesling.
A love affair was born.
I’ve always had a tolerant pallet for acid, I like daiquiris (the classic cocktail, not the blended monstrosity). Thanks to its high acid, Rieseling served as a gateway drug to other white wines.
That said, I still wonder why my wife drinks expensive water in the form of Sauvignon blanc.
While I still enjoy Cabernt Sauvignon, though I think it does a little better in a Bordeaux blend witth a little Cab Franc and Merlot, I also like Riesling, especially dry Rieseling, cold climate Chardonnay, Cava and Syrah. I also love anything that is botrytis affected. Discovering Tokjai was a great day in my life.
My favourite cocktails are old fashioneds made with raw sugar, daiquiris, silver spurs and Jeff Collins. I also like scotch, my tastes trend towards peaty Islays, with Lagavulin TK winning my peoples’ choice award. I dislike tequila. I like beer but it turns out that I’m allergic to it. The silver lining of that diagnosis has been the discovery of excellent cocktails and an ever-ballooning home bar. I’ve never quite seen the point of vodka, white rum or Sauvignon blanc.
After becoming an ambi-drinker, I decided I had fifty years worth of drinking ahead of me, I might as well get good at it now. So, we took the WSET Level 1.
As a couple, we like to host multi-course dinner parties and pair the food with the wine. The Level 1 helped a lot with pairing, the only problem was that we wanted to learn more.
Taking my WSET Level 2 easily gave me 80% of the wine knowledge that I hav now, but more importantly, an ability to develop more knowledge on my own, a skill that I was somewhat lacking before. I passed my WSET Level 2 with distinction and while my wife’s drinking may not be as Distinct as mine, it is not without Merit.
Now allow me to describe Anne’s taste in wine. “My wife’s taste in wine is like a psychopathic batman villain, no structure and a little fruity. Her tastes go to more red and cooked fruit, anything that tastes watered down and she’s a soft touch for anything with bubbles in it.”
One of my best travel days was thanks to a friendship made on the road, with a sommelier. Ben and I were both in Argentina and he had arranged a winery visit. He was able to bring someone along and asked me if I wanted to come. Naturally, I said yes.
That day, I was treated to a wonderful tour of vineyards, tastings, meals and music. I tasted $260 wine that day, which, honestly, did not do anything for me at the time, though I wish I could sample it again today! The family that owned the vineyard was present and we met three generations of the family, including the current manager’s grandfather! Our day culminated in a white tent, multi course meal amongst the vineyards while a guitar player sat next to the lake, strumming. It was overall an amazing, luxury experience, that I won’t forget.
I have liked wine for a long time, but it has only been the past few years that I’ve learned more about it. Moving beyond picking wines based on their labels or the two grape varietals that I knew I liked has paid off in spades. I wish that I started studying wine sooner. When Jeff proposed that we do a wine course, I was up for the idea, of course. His digging around for courses lead to the discovery that the first steps of true, industry-based education were completely accessible to the public.
The WSET Level 1 was pricey for a single day course, but we are so glad that we took it. As soon as we left that day, we were both hooked and knew that we were going to do the Level 2 course when it was feasible.
As of today, I’ve passed my WSET Level 2 (with Merit, Jeff doesn’t let me live it down that he got four more questions correct than I did). I’m planning to take the level 3, but it will be a fair bit of time before that is feasible. In the meantime, I need to practice tasting (oh woe is me!) and study as much as possible. Folks who live in cities can take the course over 15 weeks in the evenings, but our choices are 3 weekends, or six days in a row. I’m quite confident that I wouldn’t be capable of passing a six day intensive, at least not at this point!
While Jeff struggled with becoming an ambi-drinker, I have long embraced wines of all colours. That’s not to say that I like every wine that I meet, and I seem to have outgrown my enjoyment of most rosé, but I will gladly drink red or white. Bubbles are my favourite, though. If you need a gift idea for me, I’m very partial to Cava.
My spouse’s tastes in wine, for someone who doesn’t care for desserts, gravitates towards the ridiculously sweet. Not off-dry, but syrupy; Sauternes, ice wine, noble rot, late harvest and Tokjai. Barnyard, leather, petrol, flint, old and musty…. That’s the stuff that Jeff salivates over. Give me young and youthful any day. I might have to replace him as a spouse one day, based on my logic here. I’ll take a youthful partner, please. 😉
I also prefer my wines to be cool. Cooked, dark fruit is less my thing, so I tend to avoid Shiraz, Syrah and a lot of Zinfandel. I don’t want to get punched in the face with flavour. I prefer the more subtle Pinot Noir any day. The flavours of young red fruits make my heart sing – I prefer the Merlot-dominant right bank Bordeaux to the darker left bank, for example.
We’re glad you’re here and keen to become a better drinker, alongside us.
A Votre Santé!