People say that when you turn 50, you enter the “give a F*&* 50” phase. And so it has become for me, and no-where more prevalent than in my wine purchasing behavior. It’s an attitude of freedom, freedom to do whatever I want. And since social interactions have become so highly coveted post covid, I want my time to be special. Thus, recently, while perusing my wine inventory, I noticed that I was bored. I was having friends over and there was no excitement about the labels I was reviewing. There was Miner this and Caymus that, Chateau this and Champagnery that. But THEN, I pulled out a bottle of Otis Kenyon from Walla Walla, Washington (it’s even fun to say!), and the winemaker and story came back to me. The story is an interesting one and involves a grandfather / dentist who was institutionalized for burning down his rival dentist’s practice flash forward to his ancestors starting a great winery (abbreviated story obviously). https://greatnorthwestwine.com/2016/10/31/fire-setting-dentist-inspires-walla-walla-winery-otis-kenyon/ But seriously, how fun and different!!!
I suddenly realized I was buying my wines all wrong.
Before COVID, I traveled a great deal for wine. I would buy wines from a wineries I visited, and there was inevitably a story, a lesson, a take away of some kind. And I knew, if I purchased that wine it was likely enjoyable AND (the big one for me), I would have a story to share about it. That feeling you get, deep inside, when you are passionate and enlightened and lit up to share and to learn – yep, that feeling, that’s what I would get when I shared background on wines. But since covid, my wine collection has been built up from the wines I sell, which I have stories but many have been told, OR from various wine stores that I have ordered from during the pandemic. I usually research my purchases first, but to serve them to friends, without a story, “YAWN”.
Every day wines bore me now. I want to tell a story and drink the story in my glass, each and every time. That’s what it is for me. So if I come to your home, and you serve me a Kendall Jackson chardonnay, tell me the story of how you visited there and it was a beautiful day and you walked through the vineyards and you met the reserve wine maker. You didn’t get to stomp the grapes that day, but you did get to taste a grape right from the vines of the wine we are drinking. That’s it for me, that’s all I need. The story has become wine quality for me.
In my 20’s I bought wines that were crowd pleasers, they had big names and tastes. In my 30’s I learned names of better wineries and would buy wines recommended from others and would sometimes try new wines I thought I might like. I mostly stuck to what I knew. My 40’s brought my intense wine education. Through running wine groups and tasting and traveling I learned so much more about varietals and individuality and what goes into making and tasting wines. I learned about the soil, and the silt, and the volcanic layers, I learned the stories of the wine makers and the eruptions that buried hundreds of people right here on this hill and we are drinking wine from vines that are digging their nutrients from that very soil. It was all so very fun and I ate it up, as much as I could learn!!!
While I recognize that not everyone is as fortunate to be able to travel for wine experience, I call BS. The local wine shops and virtual programs are bringing interesting stories and experiences to all of us. Heck, I love the stories of, “my friend and I stumbled into a bar and the owner happened to be there and poured…”. All of those stories bring life to the glass, personalized meaning to what we experience and remember. And truly, wine and most adult beverages are enhanced by the memories made around them.
Now in my 50’s, I look at my wine collection and there are just so many wines, so many varietals, so many choices. Knowing a lot about wine has allowed me to refine what I personally enjoy about wine, tasting, learning and sharing.
The absolute joy of my wine collection is the wines that I have that carry the stories and the memories.