Part Three – Kissing Frogs, Finding Princes
As I noted in the previous post, being a student again makes you learn what you don’t know but may have thought that you knew. And you kiss a lot of frogs.
Let me explain.
In my personal life I had gotten to the point where I only drank the wines I wanted to drink and enjoyed drinking, budget permitting, of course. Seems reasonable, but for someone with aspirations to a career in wine, impractical. When you’re studying for such a career, “likes” and “dislikes” in wine become irrelevant.
Now I taste everything in class and in my personal life. Some faulty wines are included by design. I’ve tasted both stinkers and stars, but I’m the winner. I am learning to critically analyze a wine without any regard as to whether I like it. Using the time-tested methods of tasters who were there long before me, I’m learning to not only associate the characteristics of wine to a particular varietal, but also to what they’re showing from their region of origin as well. I’m fully embracing terroir, each wine’s sense of place. My already good palate is becoming far more discerning and educated. I like it!
The downside – if there is one – is that I find that I’m tasting wine as a job training assignment rather than purely for pleasure. That has meant a large shift in my way of thinking. But not in a negative way; on the contrary, this has been positive and has shaken me out of my very, very comfortable wine box. I’m now outside of my comfort zone with more to come. And as a Baby Boomer, my comfort zone is sizably larger than most.
The other challenge has been geography which until now, I’ve also purposely avoided. While I had a pretty good working generic knowledge of the relationship of wine characteristics to their regions of origin (“This tastes like an Oregon Pinot!”), it wasn’t until recently that I realized that “generic” just wouldn’t cut it. My geography-impaired brain has been pushed to its limits to learn AVAs, regions, DOCs, and all of the other associated geographical information that was never present in the actual Geography classes I took in school. What used to be “what is the capital of *whatever*” has turned into regions, varietals in the region, overall climate, weather patterns, wineries in specific regions, how those traits relate to the wines, and more. Along with “what is the capital of *whatever*”! See those spinning eyeballs? They’re mine!
Hey! I can handle it, Jack! (apologies to Si).
All of these challenges mean that the enjoyment and pleasure that I already find in wine will increase at least tenfold. I will better be able to share my love and appreciation of wine with those who want to learn. My desire is to have others enjoy and appreciate wine as much as I do.
So the next year or so of my life – real life notwithstanding – will be with both feet planted firmly in the World of Wine.
And the ground will be covered with grapes.