Until I became a regular buyer and consumer of good-quality wine, my wine drinking was occasional, utterly casual, and fairly unobservant.
Sure, I’d enjoy a wine in the moment; I might even make mental note of names and labels to look for next time I was shopping.
But I was not paying attention to what made a wine distinctive; I was drinking without savoring, without appreciating who produced it or where it came from.
Then, in the early ‘90s, a particular wine became a personal habit. I tried it on the recommendation of a friend. It was not a 95-pointer, not lauded in the wine press, nor rare and/or expensive. Yes, it was an import, which set it somewhat apart from garden-variety California wines of a similar price (it went for around $7 back then; it currently sells for not much more).
But what made this wine special for me was that it marked the beginning of my wine education. For the first time, I really paid attention to a wine’s sensory attributes – its color, taste and aroma. I learned the story of its ownership and noted its French connections. Its story made the wine more interesting than if I hadn’t known, and helped stamp it with distinctiveness.
With a similar curiosity I began seeking out other wines. The wine experience engaged me on multiple levels – intellectual as well as sensual. I embraced the pre-shopping research, the wine store browsing, and of course the ultimate reward, the tasting and the drinking.
Did this particular wine change me? It certainly played a role; it’s a great-value wine and reliable choice for everyday drinking. Rather, I think it’s better described as a catalyst that set me on a delightful journey that continues today.
The wine? Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, from Chile’s Colchagua province.
It’s been awhile since it was my go-to red, but I’m eager to try it again. Stay tuned; I’ve just picked up a bottle and I’ll be passing along my tasting notes soon.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about wines that are special to you and why!