Notes from A Wine Aficionado
By Alan Williamson
Wine consumption in the U.S. now rivals levels found in European countries. As an American, I’m proud to say my wife and I are doing our part to keep that trend flowing. We work with unquenchable determination to integrate wine into our everyday lives on a par with our French, Italian and German counterparts.
To leave no doubt about our commitment, “Support Our Grapes” is the message of unity that calls out from our bumper sticker. “When in Doubt, Add More Wine,” is the foolproof cooking philosophy engraved on a plaque hanging in our kitchen. “Wine has been berry, berry good to us” is the feeling we hold in our hearts after each exquisitely paired marriage of food and vintage varietal.
These days, wine enjoys an exalted status as the healthier choice among alcoholic beverages. It has also achieved marketing clout as a lifestyle enhancement that complements everything from formal occasions and special meals to casual gatherings and kicking back for some quiet relaxation at home. With the expanding menu of socially-acceptable ways that we can fit wine into our lives, keeping track of which wines you enjoy can get to be a challenge. You know your exploration of wine has reached an advanced stage when you find yourself in a store holding a bottle with a familiar label and thinking I know I’ve had this one before, but I can’t remember if I loved it or hated it.
Having paid my dues as a self-made student of wines in the $7 to $14 a bottle range, I’m happy to pass along this helpful pointer to all wine connoisseurs in training: Keep a Wine Log.
As pretentious as it sounds, a wine log is the only practical solution to prevent yourself from accidentally buying wines you intensely dislike over and over again. It’s also a great way to develop your wine vocabulary as you grope for words to describe what you taste. Note this early, inexperienced entry from the wine log my wife and I have been keeping for years as we attempt to capture the essence of an $8 bottle of Pinot Grigio paired with Alaskan king crab legs.
4.) Good with king crab legs.
Now take a peek at this recent, more knowledgeable entry describing a California chardonnay we had with some grilled salmon.
1.) Tinges of tangerine tingle in our noses along with something more – asparagus perhaps?
2.) Undercurrents of toasty oak and creamy vanilla add a mellow tone.
3.) Flirty in a refreshing fruit-forward kind of way (as opposed to a slutty “love for sale” kind of way).
4.) Room spinning, feeling woozy, must . . . get . . . air.
It was through keeping a wine log that my wife and I came to the life-changing realization that there’s no such thing as a bad Australian red wine. This no-holds-barred entry from the Williamson wine log captures the glories of an Australian Shiraz served with a porterhouse steak fresh off the barbie.
1.) Smokey hints of tobacco and mesquite vie for our approval.
2.) A plumy persona plays mischievously on the palette, suggesting a tangy fruit tart or, perhaps, a tarty French maid.
3.) Aromas of cocoa and kiwi tease and taunt us, daring us to write the words “cocoa” and “kiwi” side by side while keeping a straight face.
4.) Feeling groggy, room spinning, must . . . get . . . help.
I share these entries from our wine logs purely to convey how our ability to articulate the nuances of fine wine has evolved to its current level of sophistication through the meticulous process of “sipping and telling.” May it serve as an inspiration to all those who strive to savor wines they enjoy. May it also help them gracefully avoid wines that cause them to spit violently across the table spraying innocent people with the sour remnants of their displeasure.
Cheers and Bon Appetit!
Alan Williamson is an award-winning writer with 27 years in the field of true fiction (advertising). A practical man who knows that writing for a living is risky going, he has taken steps to pursue a second, more stable career as a leggy super model. Alan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2014 Alan Williamson.