Remember when you first fell in love? This weekend I was reminded of what it was like to explore wine for the first time. Do you remember you first wine experience? Think back to the explosion of flavor, the romance, the mystery…and the excitement of the unknown. Do you sniff then swirl, or is it sip, then sniff? What is a Rose? What is the all the fuss?
Saturday I experienced the joy of helping two people through their first wine tasting. Both ladies were brought in by their wine loving friends and both were so excited for their first experience. There was nervousness and an anticipation that accompanied the fear of the unknown. Think back to a first date. These are the feelings and emotions that seemed to explode out of first time wine explorers.
The Joy of the First Time
The first kiss, the first car, the first touch, the first sip; each imparts a memory that will not soon be forgotten. I remember my first time. I was 16 and the night was hot and passionate. The windows of the car were getting steamy…
…uh, oops, wrong story….
I remember my first time. I picked out a wine for a date, unsure of what to get. After awkwardly fumbling with the cork, I finally managed to pour the Merlot into the glass. I watched as she swirled the wine in the glass and then lifted it to her nose. I did the same. As the liquid flowed over my tongue, I was hooked. The flavor was new, intense, full of fruit, and intriguing. Each sip brought a new rush of intensity. I knew this was more than an alcoholic beverage. This was art with layers of depth that begged to be explored.
Saturday, I watched as two people experienced the same awakening and arousal from the fermented grape. Their eyes lit up with joy and each wine brought a slew of new questions and curiosities. Each swirl, sniff, sip brought a smile to their face.
“Why do you swirl the wine?”
It releases the aroma so you can get a better sensory experience. It also helps bring oxygen into the wine which can soften some of the rough edges as it opens up.
“What am I smelling or tasting?”
Start with the basic taste characteristics of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Then move on to any fruit flavors and aromas that you can identify. Next, are there any spice or herb components and finally, do you detect any earth or mineral flavors and aromas.
“This is so cool!” exclaimed both participants. The questions continued and the curiosity was contagious as the world of wine wonderment unfolded before them. The wine tasting started with a dry rosé and included a pinot noir, merlot, syrah, and finally a late harvest chenin blanc. One lady enjoyed the wine more as the tasting got heavier, but balked at the syrah. The other’s preference was the syrah. However, in the end both wine explorers purchased the Terra Blanca Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.
“It’s like a tropical fruit salad dessert in a glass!”
Success! Wine loving converts. Ambitious explorers who will be back for more. Their trip to the store will now include a walk down the wine section. Their confidence and knowledge of what wine to bring to parties has increased.
Guiding these two wide eyed women through their first tasting was fun. It reminded me of why wine is exciting and why I wanted to get into this business of blogging, writing, and selling wine. Too often we analyze the juice like a science project and forget it is a passionate expression of some creative wine maker. It’s a personal experience with personal preference. As Charles Smith of K-Vintners says, “It’s just booze, drink it.” Explore through repetition and variety and remember to savor each sip.
What is your favorite part of wine tasting? Leave a note for all those wine explorers those who are beginning the journey full of question, intimidation, and curiosity. Remember, enjoy life with friends, drink happy!