Just as in life, very few things in the wine world are black and white. It’s easy to generalize and pass judgment on wines, wineries, wine styles, regions, countries and so on. With such ambiguity and so many exceptions, it’s hard to be wrong. That’s what makes the wine world so much fun. I love the metaphors, the analogies, and the comparisons. Everyone sees something different. When I drink a glass from a bottle of $300 Napa Cab, I don’t have fun creative things to compare it to. I say “Damn!” But some people drink the same wine and say “Do you get the mint? The currants? I taste my grandmother’s spaghetti, the time that she made it before church, and she scorched the pan a little bit.”
I taste in adjectives. I taste dark. I taste rich. I taste soft. I even taste red. What’s great is that it doesn’t necessarily matter. I can fill your head with all of the nonsense I want, but it doesn’t change the way the wine taste to you, so why bother? It won’t be long until I have to be able to taste a wine and tell the world what it is without looking at the label. I thought it would be impossible without the ability to pick up “currants” and “mint” and “vanilla”, and “black cherries covered in a soft vanilla, slightly scorched confectioners sugar caramel.” As it turns out, if you know you like Syrah, then you can detect a Syrah. After you’ve tasted Italian Syrah, French Syrah, Australian Shiraz, California Shiraz/ Syrah, 500 times, you notice patterns. The tough part for me is putting those patterns into words, but I know what they are. The best way I would know to describe the difference between a California Chardonnay, and an Australian Chardonnay would be with some crazy metaphor that anyone could relate to. It would have nothing to do with wine or food. It becomes a feeling.
If you think about it, the wine world is nothing but comparison. It’s comparison to things that you have tasted and things you have experienced; no one can argue that with you. “You don’t’ taste your grandmothers spaghetti!” That would just be silly.
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