Wine often mystifies and is seldom the same. Vintage variation, winemaker whimsy, and laborious labels can make choosing something you LOVE like dropping a quarter in the state of Texas and sending you out blindfolded to find it. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “What is your favorite wine?” I would actually be writing this post from the beaches of Aruba or some exotic place. To help answer the question, I’ve identified the 5 best wines you will ever have. I’m sure you’ll agree!
Your First Wine
While you may not have understood all the intricacies of the taste or it might have been a wine of substandard quality, your first wine will always hold a special place in your heart…and palate. Your first time will always be remembered because it started your life long affair with the fermented grape. Even though you fumbled your way through the swirl, sniff, sip and the experience was over far too quickly, it created a spark that now burns as a raging unquenchable desire.
My first wine (or at least the one I remember) was a 2002 Meridian Merlot purchased just before a first date. Interestingly enough it is this wine that birthed this blog, Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine, and for that matter just about everything I’m doing right now. The wine…unassuming and unmemorable, but the results have been life changing.
The Celebratory Wine
A wedding, the birth of a child, a job promotion, days when the sun comes up; each of these is deserving of a celebration. Many of these celebrations involve wine. Celebratory wine is some of the best wine you’ll ever have. Your brain creates a powerful positive trigger connecting the wine with the emotions from the event. An average wine can taste good and a great wine can become life changing.
Many of us choose sparkling wine for these celebrations. Two sparkling wines that hold special memory for me are from Spokane’s Mountain Dome (Cuvee Forte), and the Northwest Cellars 2001 Brut that I recently opened during the release party of Spokane Wine Magazine.
The Vacation Wine
Oh, the vacation wine, often known as the wine tasting trip wine – for some reason this wine always tastes 2-3 times better in the tasting room than when you get home and taste it. I would offer that it is the sights, sounds, smells, and overall experience that make the wine enjoyable. While the wine may be really good when you get home, the memory of the time at the winery (or even at the dinner table that night), makes the wine taste better. Some of my favorite wines are from wine trips to Yakima, Woodinville, Walla Walla, and Lake Chelan. BEWARE: There will be times you spend your good money on a wine as you are immersed in the experience that will result in disappointment when popping the cork to enjoy with your frozen dinner.
The Wine in Your Glass
I often answer the question, “What is your favorite wine,” with the answer, “the one in my glass.” While this is a humorous response, it actually holds quite a bit of truth to it. The reason…variety. No two wines are the same. Wine is an artistic and creative product and enjoying it provides a unique experience. Rarely do I buy the same wine twice. While there are many wines that I fall in love with (and I’ll go to these for events, gifts, dinners, dates, etc), I love discovering something new. As a wine writer, I am blessed to get samples from wineries all over the world. I love experiencing Assyrtiko from Greece or Gruner Veltliner from Austria or a bold Napa Cabernet from an artisan producer. I encourage everyone to do this. Find your favorites but enjoy the wine that is in your glass. That wine has its own unique characteristics and qualities, discover them.
The Wine Enjoyed with Friends
The best wine, in my opinion, is the wine enjoyed with friends. Long before there was a ‘brick and mortar’ Nectar Tasting Room, I envisioned groups of people sharing a bottle of wine, laughing and creating memories. My tag line for all my video blogs has always been, “Enjoy life with friends…drink happy.” This actually graces our windows at Nectar. Wine is a social beverage, and a social lubricant, and is tied to so many amazing memories with people you love and enjoy.
While writers and pundits, and even this blog from time to time, rate and score the quality of a wine, the ultimate test and character of a wine is…do you like it? Enjoy the art. Celebrate the variety. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
*Photo credit Retro Classics Photography / Crystal Toreson