November 27, 2012

My Wine Philosophy

In my first post, I had mentioned that I wanted to talk about my own wine "philosophy." I've had people sheepishly admit to me at dinner parties that they think they like what they are drinking, but honestly have no idea what makes a bottle of wine good.  Here's my response to that comment, and that generally forms the bulk of how I feel about wine, and the role it should play in people's lives.

First of all: we all have our own approach to the way we appreciate the things that we like.  Two people who are good friends may have wildly different preferences in music, for example, or may even like the same artist or musical group for entirely different reasons.  It simply is a matter of taste.

Unsuprisingly, wine is a beverage and therefore also subject to personal taste.  However, there is another stumbling block that tends to affect someone's impression of a bottle of wine: cost.  Wine has long been associated with a splurge of the wealthy.  In restaurants, bottles of wine are generally marked way up, to the point where they seem inaccessible.  In response, stores have become overrun with cheap wine, saturating the market with reasonably priced, but awfully made, product.  If your first taste of wine is the cheap kind, with a slice of microwaved pizza in a poorly lit restaurant, or out of a slimy box at a college kegger--your gut reaction will probably be:  this wine is awful.  Because it probably was.

So, that said:  here are my pointers for enjoying wine in a way you may not have previously thought:

1.  The wine that you are drinking should TASTE GOOD.
I don't care what it is.  Are you drinking a fancy pants Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape from before you were born, or are you drinking a bottle on sale at your Trader Joe's that was $4?  Because whatever it is, it should taste delicious!  If you don't like the fancy bottle of wine--save it for a friend.  If you don't like the sale wine--hey, use it in cooking.  Wine is GREAT for cooking. 

2.  Good wine does NOT have to be expensive.
This, honestly, is everything.  One of the main reasons I am writing this blog is that in my vast attempt to find a wine blog that really spoke to me, I realized:  all of the wines that people were writing about were limited release, imported wines that on my limited budget as a twenty-something, were just not feasible for me to buy!  I want to go into my local Total Wine or BevMo, my Costco, my supermarket, and pick up a bottle.  Trust:  I love boutiquey labels and fancy Bordeaux blends as much as the next wine lover, but if that was my prerequisite--I'd never drink wine.  

3. Be open-minded, but true to yourself about what wine you like to drink.
Yeah, this sounds a little hippy-dippy. But here's what I mean:
Some of you who are new to wine may think:  I know I like red wine, but hate white wine.  I, Katie, view that as a personal challenge:  what white wines have you tried?  have you ever tried (insert varietal here)?  what qualities do you like in wine?  etc.  I encourage all of you with strong opinions about wine style, varietal, region, what have you, to go outside your comfort zone occasionally, because it may surprise you.  I similarly find myself often encouraging wine aficionados to stop turning their noses up at things they think they know, for the same reason.

That said:  start to learn what it is you like about wine, and be true to that instinct.  Do you like wines that taste like jam?  Stick to big, bold, fruit-forward reds when you are looking to expand your own wine collection!  Knowing what you like is a good thing-- you will enjoy wine more that way.

4.  Wine does not have to be intimidating.
This is also a big one.  And this is where I come in: in this blog, I'm going to (try) to demystify the world of wine for those of you who do find it overwhelming--because it can be.  But really, it's fermented grape juice that has been around since the earliest civilizations--we make it complicated because it can be.  It doesn't have to be.

And....that's really it, friends.

Wine is really, really exciting and wonderful and delicious.  It should be paired with dinners and enjoyed with friends.  I have amassed quite a collection, but not because I see them as an investment.  It's because I like to drink them all!

My point through all of this is:  Sometimes, the most enjoyable glass of wine is drunk on a Tuesday night, from a $5 bottle, after a long day, in sweatpants while watching television with a frozen pizza. I encourage that behavior.

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