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Variety: The Saving Grace to Wine!

27 Oct

Variety: The Saving Grace to Wine! #MWWC20

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I expect you have a current favorite wine. If you are thinking “Not really,” then you surely have a specific vineyard, winemaker, or at least a varietal, if not a specific bottle and vintage. When people ask me (not sure why, but it seems to be a common question) I might admit that in a given moment I have four or five current favorites, but they are constantly changing. One day I might have a favorite dry white, a favorite sweeter white, a favorite white blend. If I spend time considering the cellar holdings versus what’s in front of me at the moment, I’ll realize I have a current “every day” favorite in red, a current favorite single vineyard red, a current favorite bordeaux, and a favorite alternative- for several years it was Rioja, but I’m currently deep in Barolo. And I can’t forget that I usually have a favorite sweet wine- last spring it was Eiswine, but I’m back on my Sauternes kick. These are all in addition to the wine I hold most dear- Château Margaux, which I might get to taste very rarely.

The fun part is that my taste preferences change seasonally, sometimes as quickly as the weather might change from sun to rain. But sometimes my base desires will change or shift. For several years I had forgotten about the joy a good sparkling wine can provide when I tasted a dry lambrusco at the Wine Blogger’s Conference #WBC14. That switched on some synapse in me that renewed my respect for sparkling wines. While I had not been enjoying very much sparkling wine before, during a subsequent family trip to Scotland I sought out great Italian restaurants, and due to the unusual heat and no A/C that summer, we found ourselves drinking sparkling rosé night after night. I came back home with a renewed vigor for all things sparkling, and found a lot of unusual sparkling wines to share with friends as a result. All this because I had renewed the desire for a refreshing, light, thirst-quenching wine!

Sometimes, I’m steady in some favorites, like my favorite white burgundy. That really hasn’t changed in seven years…but there could be a new winemaker who brings out an amazing product at a price point that simply blows my mind. And that would be wonderful. Because do we complain that there are too many great winemakers? Too many great restaurants? Too many lovely cities to visit? That we have too many friends? No, we love having some variety. Even if we want the same thing over and over again, having options is key– for one day, the fickle finger of fate will point in a different direction.

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Variety. Like varietals, variety can save your butt in wine.

American Psychologist Daniel Gilbert wrote: “The secret of happiness is variety, but the secret of variety, like the secret of all spices, is knowing when to use it.”

Gilbert has a great point.  Having a cellar with a lot of options is similar to having a great spice rack, if you know what to do with it! You have a lot of really wonderful options that can pair together in an instance or be used independently of one another to great success. Also, spice is very much like wine in that is has a shelf life and needs to be well maintained in both temperature and humidity to stay consistent, if not to provide ideal enjoyment.
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When I seek through the few treasures my cellar holds, it brings a smile to my face. Single vineyard varietals from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, the Willamette Valley, the Finger Lakes, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Alsace. Bottle after bottle of Bordeaux châteaux that make me smile at the thought of their vineyards and their extraordinary products. Sections of Tuscany, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Sicily, Lombardy. Spain, Potugal, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand. Ah, New Zealand! My mind was blown away after a night of tasting New Zealand’s wines, and then again after a tasting of some stunning wines in Santa Barbara. Perhaps that is one of the simple joys of life: enjoying food and wine. One can have spent their entire life without knowing how much they might enjoy a food or wine, blissfully unaware, and one little taste- and you must have it again! At least perhaps we have learned to appreciate a wonderful local bottle or dish. More things we enjoy and would like to try again- other than not having space to store more bottles, what could possibly be wrong with that?

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So maybe I’ll build on and customize Gilbert’s altruism. “The secret to wine is knowing both what you like and a strong variety of wines: that you will know how and when to use them effectively.”  At the very least, have an openness towards trying new things, as winemakers will continue to challenge our palates and develop stunning wines we’ll want to try, enjoy, and then share again with friends.

And that variety is one that can enhance your life far beyond any bottle.

Nota tasting

À votre santé!

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