Posts Tagged taste

Fiction: Expensive wine taste better than cheap wine.

Wine can easily be one of the luxuries that is nice to splurge on during a big celebration.  When P-Diddy celebrates going to the club, he buys a few bottles of “Cristal” to splash all over the bar. When you and your colleagues finally close on that big over seas account, a bottle of “Opus” or “Silver Oak” makes the occasion seem more special. Graduation days are always full of “Moet” and “Veuve”. New Years boasts the most pricey bubbles you can afford. Christmas and Thanksgiving are good reason to crack open the “Caymus”, and “Shafer”. It’s Saturday night, and you have a babysitter, you want to buy a bottle that you’re thoroughly going to enjoy, what are you going to buy? What would I buy?

I’m going to buy a wine that I know my fiancée and I are going to enjoy. I know that she enjoys big bodied spicy reds. She enjoys the rich, and full flavored wines. A special occasion may call for a bottle of Clio, or an expensive Amarone. A normal Saturday night will probably go just as well with a nice Shiraz, or a fruity California Zinfandel. I’m seeking that wine that I know we will enjoy. I’m usually all for taking risks, and I won’t buy something that I’ve had before, but I need something familiar. For example: I know that she likes Orin Swift wines. We’ve had “The Prisoner” about 1000 times, so I’d feel safe buying the recently released “Machete”. I know that I enjoy McClaren Vale Shiraz, “Yangarra” is one of my favorites, I’d feel safe picking up “Jester” by Ben Glaetzer.

The answer to the “babysitter” question should be: “The best bottle that I’m at least 90% sure I’m going to enjoy.” If you just got your tax return, and a promotion, and just won a small amount in the lottery, and won a bundle at the track this morning, and took quite a bit from the casino this evening, a bottle of First Growth Bordeaux could be a REALLY stupid purchase. A $900 bottle of Margaux sounds cool, but I wouldn’t appreciate it. P-Diddy probably doesn’t know a whole lot about great Champagne and the methode traditionelle. His groupies would probably be much happier with a $25 bottle of Moscato d’ Asti.

Drinking expensive wine because it’s expensive is a waste of wine, and a waste of money.  If all you normally drink is Central Coast Pinot Noir, you’re going to HATE the Margaux. If light and fruity California Pinot Noir is your everyday wine, I wouldn’t even suggest a Burgundy. If you drink $10 bottles of wine every day, splurging should be (2) $30 bottles. I typically spend $16-$25 on a bottle for everyday drinking. On a special occasion, I won’t spend more $70 on a bottle. I drink expensive wine pretty regularly, and I wouldn’t even appreciate a bottle over $100.

Fact: Wine that YOU enjoy and appreciate tastes better than the other stuff!



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Why Age?

Drink Now? Drink later? Best between 10 and 15 years from when?

Often I am asked about the benefits of aging in the bottle. I’m asked what the difference is between a 2001 and a 2007 Napa Cab. I have a strange way of thinking about what happens to wine that’s been sitting in a bottle for years and years.

Do you remember when you were a child, and your mom would run into the store and leave you in the car. At this age, you’re in the front seat, and ever-so curious about all of the gadgets in front of you. As soon as she gets out of the car, you push in the “TREB” button; you start playing with it, and notice that things sound a lot different depending on its position. Soon after you realize the impact of the “BASS” button.

Mom gets back in the car and notices a change. She can’t identify it exactly, but she knows that something is off. She starts playing with the treble and the bass until she gets it back to that prefect balance.

When a new quality wine is released, they’re made to age. They’re designed to get better over the years. A just released Napa Cab may be over the top acidic, with intensly unbearable tannins and so much fruit you may confuse it for a Lodi Zin. Aging in the bottles works like the treble and bass settings in your car.

At first, you taste the wine, you recognize it. You’ve had it before. You’ve had an Oakville Cab before, but something is off about this one. You just can’t put your finger on it. It’s much stronger than you’re used to, you know it’s the same wine, but what is going on?

You get in your car, and your favorite song is on. You’ve heard it 1000 times, and it’s never sounded like this! It’s so much louder. It’s more abrasive. It’s the same song, but just not as you remember liking it.

Aging in the bottle slowly adjusts the knobs until you hit that perfect equilibrium of bass and treble. When Wine Spectator says best between 2018 and 2025, that’s when you have your favorite song back, just the way you remember it. Over the years the tannins slowly calm down as does the fruit and acidity, and when they say it’s best, it should in theory be… perfect.

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