Thursday, October 25, 2007
What The Hell Do You Mean By FEAR OF WINE???
I've been asked this a couple of times in the past few weeks since Oenophobia: A Fear Of Wine was born. What does it mean and where does it come from?? Well, Oenophobia itself is a real disorder where a person has an unexplained and paralyzing fear of wine, wine bottles or spilled wine. That's the extreme of the Fear of Wine, the clinical definition, if you will. My definition of Oenophobia pertains to the fear of overpaying for an inferior wine that you might blindly select from a shelf, display or rack at your local wine shop. It also manifests itself when someone from the store asks you if you need any help selecting a wine, and you just blurt out: "Not Yet!" or "Just Looking" or worse yet, grab a familiar looking bottle because you know the name on it or the bottle has a little jumping kangaroo and you heard Aussie wine is getting really good!
This, to me, is the more troubling version of Oenophobia, and I am hoping to help you overcome this irrational fear by suggesting some easy moves that will make you a more confident wine buyer/enthusiast. A couple of important things for you to remember as you embark on wine appreciation:
1. Not all good wines are expensive, and conversely, all expensive wines are not always good. - If you have asked me for a wine recommendation, you will get the same answer each time: How much do you want to spend? I can recommend wines that stand out from the crowd at all different prices. In each price-range, there are good and bad wines. It is true, however, that expensive good wines will probably be as good or better than less expensive good wines. You have to remember that wine prices are a factor of the winemaker's marketing efforts, not the quality of the wine.
2. The people who work in the wine shops GENERALLY know what is good, because they taste a lot of wines and have developed a discerning palate. In NJ, wine stores almost ALWAYS will have a bottle or three that are open and will allow you to taste a wine, for free, that you probably have never had before. You just have to ask, or better yet, check to see if they post a weekly tasting time and day and get there for a free tasting. Once the wine staff has you tasting, they can tell what you like by your reaction to the wines. Now they can become personal shoppers for you and your likes and dislikes.
3. Wine is as good ALL OVER THE WORLD, not just in France or Italy or California. While it is true that certain districts in certain countries have a reputation of having the best of a certain varietal of grape, rarely is one region the only place a grape is grown. For example: Sangoivese is a wine that is produced in the Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany is known for it's Sangiovese but not all Tuscan Sangiovese is drop-dead good nor is all of it better than some Sangiovese grown right here in the US. Same thing with Pinot Noir and other varieties of wine produced in the Rhone Valley in France. Winemaking is a craft, being done by people who are sometimes good at it and sometimes not. The grapes are not always the determining factor in the production of good wine. You should try wines from all over the world to see how Cabernet tastes from California, Washington State, Italy or France, Spain or Chile.
4. My last tip is probably the best: Never stop seeking out wines to try. Ask people who drink wine what are they drinking right now? Go to BYOB restaurants and bring an extra bottle of something you like and ask the people at the table next to you if they want to try yours for a taste of theirs. Read about wines on discussion groups and then try to find and drink wines that are agreed by a large number of drinkers on the site to be good. I recommend two great forums to read at the bottom of my Blog: Wine Lovers Discussion Forum and Wine Library Forum. I hear about new wines all the time from these sites and have rarely been disappointed.
I want to finish this post with a challenge to each of the readers of this Blog. I want you to make a trip to the wine store of your choice. Seek out someone who is working in the store and tell them that you are looking for a new wine to try, something you haven't had before. Give them a price range, and tell them what you like in a wine or give them the name of a bottle you have had that you liked. Ask if there are any suggestions to improve the drinking experience (time in a decanter, chilled, etc.) and then go home and enjoy it. At the end of this post, you will see a small mail envelope. Click on it and tell us the wine you were sold, how much you paid and what you thought of it. Share your experience with our readers so that we can all live vicariously through your experience, and then enjoy ours.
I started with a bottle of 2004 Veramonte Primus from Chile. It is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Carmenere. We are drinking it on Sat. and I will post on Sunday.
Happy Drinking and Learning..........