Words to the Wise

Drink What You Like

In today’s world it seems there’s a whole raft of wine reviewers, pundits, bloggers and just plain old friends who want to tell you what wines you should drink. In my opinion, you should have your own opinion and gravitate toward wines that stimulate your senses. Drink wines you find refreshing and satisfying. Don’t put too much stock in what the others are saying—their tastes may vary wildly from your own.
For example, when I do major wine judging, I’m usually on a panel with four or five so-called experts, and we are often charged with tasting more than 100 wines in a day. We don’t always agree. Even with our wine-educated palates, one judge may give a wine a gold medal while another on the same panel may give the same wine a blooper rating.
In the end, one judge’s really high-scoring wine may end up only earning a bronze medal, which is equivalent to wine purgatory, at least for those customers who want only to taste gold medal wines. By being so gold medal obsessed, they could totally miss out on what might be a great wine, one that could be something they might actually like to put in the cellar.
So should the average person go on a 200-wine-a-week tasting binge and cancel his subscriptions to the Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate? Such a tasting jag might be fun, but the average wine enthusiast’s budget likely can’t come close to covering the cost. And giving up on the magazines probably doesn’t make sense, because they both offer great reading, and their wine ratings do have some meaning.
The key for the wine consumer is to embrace opportunities to explore new wines, taste in moderation and take the advice of trusted publications while looking for those diamonds in the rough.
My family adheres to the old adage about seizing the day and the notion that “a day without wine is like a day without sunshine.” We have a healthy appetite toward life and toast it regularly. I don’t want you to let a day pass without some sunshine, good wine and good food in your own life.
It happens to be a fine time to be drinking wine. Wine lovers right now face a very consumer-driven market, which means there is an oversupply of wine in the market. As a result, prices will be good for the next year. However, there is a dearth of premium grapes, which will lead ultimately to a shortage of these same wines in a few years. Pinot Noir (since Sideways) is a phenomenon, and Chardonnay, which no one says he wants to drink, is really hot. But they may not be what you like.
So in your own wine-tasting adventures, give the task a little effort, sample a lot, find what you like and then put some away. That way, every day can have a little sunshine.

This article appears in the March-April 2009 issue of Alameda Magazine
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