When I started drinking wine I had wanted to love it. I thought that there was nothing as classy or sophisticated than to have a glass of wine in hand, whether out with friends or in the company of your own home. There are only really two beverages that you can curl up with and I believed that wine was one of them. In fact, when I moved to my current apartment, my very first purchase was a set of wine glasses. I hunted for months for them and one day I walked into Pier1 and there they were; perfect size (oversized) and shape. They came in a few different colors, although I can’t quite remember what they were. I ended up with green hued glasses. Green is not really the color that I ever would have seen myself choosing, but there it was…the best color. I bought white and red wine glasses, and champagne flute…four or each sounded like a good number to me. I also purchased two different sized sets of drinking glasses during that visit (four of each of those too). It wasn’t until after I walked out of the store that I realized that I had two really heavy bags to cart home via public transportation all the way to my little suburban area of Queens, but they were worth it. Sadly, after a freak accident a few years later, by someone whom I won’t mention, the champagne flutes are no more. They have since been replaced by beautiful Waterford Crystal ones which add a nice dimension to my still in tact wine glasses, but every so often I find myself missing my old ones.
The first wine that I tried was an Australian Merlot. And I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen on the taste. My mouth puckered at those first few sips even though Merlots aren’t really known for having tannins. It was then that I realized that loving wine was something to be acquired, kind of like how some people feel about reading Shakespeare or seeing the opera. (Neither of which I agree with, I have always been a fan of Shakespeare and, although I have only been to one opera, I loved it.) After the Australian Merlot I graduated to the California Cabernet and that was when I first fell in love with wine. I couldn’t get enough of the inviting fragrance or the way it danced on my tongue. I also didn’t mind the fact that my mouth still puckered at the first few sips.
For a while, Cabernet’s were all that I would drink. I have a picture of myself that was taken at a New Years’ Eve party a few years back and I’m sad to say, my lips were slightly stained red.
I started drinking Chardonnay with my aunt during our sporadic dinner outings for a few reasons. First, I wanted to drink the same thing as her because I thought that she was cool and that would in turn make me cool. I also believed that to really love wine, you had to be able to diversify your palate. And a third reason, which I hadn’t yet come to realize, was that whilst ordering wine by the glass at a restaurant is a fun way to try new ones, ordering red by the glass can be a bit more tricky (at least if you’re me anyway). I cannot stand red wine that has been open for more than twenty-four hours. I do not care how good it was the day before or how expensive. Even though it has only slightly oxidized and is still completely drinkable, I cannot enjoy it and therefore am known to pour, what some might say, perfectly good bottles down the drain.
Then last summer, everything changed. I reconnected with an old high school friend, who is now a sommelier. At the time, he was studying wine and instilled his knowledge upon me. I guess that one way to learn about wine is to do one country at a time and, for the most part, he was studying French wines. For years I had been saying that I hated Pinot Noir, but when I took my first sip of a Burgundy, I was hooked. (For those of you that don’t know, all wines from Burgundy are Pinot Noir; unless they are white…then they are Chardonnay.) Since then, I still have the occasional California Cab, but for the most part, I only drink French wines. There is just such a difference in the way that these Old World wines are made as opposed to the New World Ones (i.e. Australia, California, etc)…they’re just simply amazing.