You’re probably wondering why I’m here and why the heck I’ve decided to publicly archive my records about what wine I’ve tasted and/or and drunk in my life. First of all, I do it because the experience of taste and smell is fleeting: if you don’t write it down, you’ll likely forget about it; not every wine out there is so memorable as to send chills down your spine years later. Second of all, I do it out of a vague sense of civic duty: if there’s a wine out there that’s interesting, especially good value, or potentially interesting, then I’d love to delude myself into thinking that I can somehow spread the good word to folks searching for more information about it on the Internet. Similarly, if I can alert someone to a wine that truly sucks before they spend their hard earned money on it, then yes, I wish I could help out in some way. Finally, I do it because it frees me from the guilt I used to feel whenever I poured out wines that I just really didn’t want to drink: if I write about it before I flush it, then at least I can feel that something useful came of it.
Am I a wine lover? Well, yeah – but I’ll say amateur ‘cuz everything sounds better in French. I grew up in a solidly middle class family in central California (not too far from the Gallo plant), and wine was usually present in some form or another, from Inglenook Chablis in the fridge to a few dozen cases of the good stuff hiding in the basement. Being a teenager, I thought this was of course utterly lame and preferred to drink beer well into my twenties. My parents retired, joined the Peace Corps, and I found myself visiting them for Christmas in 1998 – and let’s just say that there’s not a lot to do in Chişinău, Moldova at Christmastime except eat, drink, avoid open manholes, and sleep off the previous evening’s drinking. The flight in on Moldavian Airlines was telling: delicious grape juice during the flight, and three small bottles of wine (red, white, and sparkling) for every passenger in a crappy Soviet-era plastic bag with a poorly printed Santa Claus on it. By the end of the week, I had discovered that I love wine. We drank ten-year-old cabernet-Pinot Noir blend in Cricova’s underground cellars, we drank endless bottles of red sparkling wine, and we even drank brandy so awful that it haunts me to this day. Most importantly, though, I discovered that even the bad stuff can be interesting if you pay close enough attention to it. I was hooked.
Over the years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time drinking my way through various wine regions; I’ve met young black winemakers in South Africa and ancient, cranky German winemakers in the Barossa. I even went back to school (CWU ’06) and got a Wine Trade Professional Certificate to prove that yeah, I do sometimes know what I’m talking about. And I’ve also shared a few hundred bottles with friends and family along the way.
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