Isn’t it thrilling to watch someone sipping wine on video and then describe how it tastes?
While this can be great fun when you’re sipping along and participating as part of the experience, watching and listening other people explain what they’re sensing seems senseless. I’d rather watch a real-time clip of grape vines waving in the wind in a monochromatic Oregon-gray sky.
After spending a great deal of time both on- and off-camera with winemakers discussing growing grapes and making wine, I have yet to come across any winemaker who wants to sip their wine and describe it to an audience. It makes them uncomfortable.
The reason? It feels false when you’re doing it.
Everyone experiences wine differently. What smells like fresh peach to one comes across as bright apple to another. What has a great mouthfeel to one person, is too tannic for someone else. And, it depends on what you’re eating.
This is why I hear unanimously from winemakers and wine educators that the fun and magic of wine is to experience a wide range of varietals, from a particular place, on a particular soil type, and get a sense of them.
Pinot Noir has a different profile from a vineyard in Lompoc, California than it does from the Dundee Hills of Oregon. They’re both wonderful. But they’re different. The growing season is different, the soils are different, the clone selection is often different. Celebrate the differences. Experience the similarities. Play around with different food combinations.
The bottom line is to find out what you like. A Riesling with a little residual sugar balance and great acid can bring Chinese food to new levels of delicious. Figure out what wines stand up best to tomato sauce. It’s not always obvious. Have one glass of wine as an aperitif and one with your meal. Or bring them both to the table and figure out which one you want to stick with. Try different combinations with different foods. As one veteran winemaker in Walla Walla told me last summer, “wine is a joyous beverage, it’s supposed to be fun.”
So, go ahead and play.