“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
The logical first issue to address in this series is: why go to wine tastings? There are a number of very good reasons:
1. Learn more about wine. Wine is unique in the world of food and drink. It is narrowly defined, a beverage produced within tight parameters from one or more permutations of a single fruit, and yet it is, for all intents and purposes, without limits. It is impossible to know everything about wine. Not only are the varietals and blends incredibly numerous, but each one contains countless facets that differ based on the region, the winemaker and even the year of the vintage. The more you learn, the more you realize how much more there is to learn. For many wine acolytes, this pursuit of knowledge can be an end in itself.
2. Experience new wines. Wine, however, is not just about knowledge: it is about the senses, about experience. Both the complete novice and the learned master can appreciate and benefit from a wine tasting, because no matter how many or how few wines you have tried, you can experience something new. No other commodity is as rewarding. The only way to cultivate a discerning palate is to experience a lot of wines, and attending tastings regularly is by far the easiest method for accomplishing this.
3. Enjoy a shared interest with your friends. Wine tastings are more fun with a group, because everyone experiences wine slightly differently (sometimes more than slightly), and intelligent discussions are bound to arise. The atmosphere lends itself well to synergistic enjoyment – each person’s enthusiasm feeds the others’ (alcohol may or may not play a role in this). Just be careful not to form a crowd or be too noisy – a group of four or five is ideal. Plus, this way you can designate a driver in case the wines flow a bit too freely.
To be continued…
*To find out the when and where of wine tastings close to home, consult your local wine shops’ web pages. Facebook can also be useful – more and more local businesses are getting involved. If you don’t know of a wine shop near you, this site might be helpful.