What catalyzed these thoughts was a recent dinner I had with a friend, who is both a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier. We’re both the same age (a month separates our birth days) and I was listening to him tell me a little more about his progression in wine over a lifetime. We both shared similar experiences growing up in the wine world, tasting incredible wines which for the most part are now impossible to find.
The real kicker here is that after both of us have had experiences tasting wines that are considered the greatest of their kind (think Romanée Conti), including any number of great wines from France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, California, you get the picture. It has come down to this: Is the wine tasty? Is it well balanced? Does it complement the food (or the conversation)? Inotherwords, is it the best for the moment?
I take a sniff of the Vermentino we ordered with our fish dishes, in case my colleague might want to talk about this wine. But he seems to be enjoying the moment, with little conscious indication of analysis. I note the aromas, the body, the balance and then I proceed to pour a little more of the wine into our glasses. Often, in the wine world, we tend to get stuck in the navel, postulating about whether an orange wine is really orange or a natural wine is really natural or whether a first-growth is really worthy of such vaunted status. I know there is a technical side to all of this. But tonight isn’t one of those moments. It seems we’re enjoying the wine and the conversation too much to analyze the wine.
And what is one to do with this information? Do I get rid of all of the great wines sitting in my closet, some for 30 years? Do I drink them up? Do I share them with the young lions? Do I really have to answer this right now?
Yes, wine is important for those of us in the dugout. But that’s not why I’m here. Wine is a small part of the picture and all my life in this business it seems I’ve been trying to put it in its proper perspective. And after all these years, it seems, my friend and I have found a viewpoint that more accurately puts wine in balance with life and all its swirling, rotating, vying-for-attention elements. And wine has never tasted better than it does now.
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