As I sat in the far corner of a back-alley Parisian restaurant, the soft candle light casting illusions of romance and grandeur across her face and around the room. My blood was ablaze. The soft wine consumed invoked ephemeral visions, ideas of the night, and possible life to come. As with the wine, I drank the conversation in slowly, knowing if I overindulged in either I would surely pay the price later. I wanted to tread slowly, enjoy every moment, every facet of her complexity. I discovered hints of where she came from, the beautiful French countryside, the slopes of the Cote de Or.
I could sense the soft hand used to raise her, merely guiding her through her most formative years without too much interference, allowing her to be the most she could be. She was a year younger than I; a magnificent vintage, yet already bolder, more graceful and certain of herself. I took one last sip and felt the soft velvety tannins slowly spread across my tongue, wash back and forth, bathing my mouth in the blissfully subtle fruit and oak expressions for which she was famous. I savoured the taste and the moment, before swallowing every last drop of her along with my insecurities, and my pride, drowning out the nervous butterflies born of inexperience. I admitted my love… for both of them. She gasped, surprised. I mused, trying to justify my feelings: “They have a saying, the French. The most beautiful wine in the world comes from Dijon to Chalon, a region mimicking the curves of a woman…”
My girlfriend has now accepted my other love. And why not? It brings me joy, inspires passion. The incessant drinking is the only thing she has a problem with. Oh and the price. Love of wine isn’t cheap. That aside, I still find it strange that in this age of gourmet coffee and boutique beer, the romantic whims of a fine wine are not more widely enjoyed. I find most people drink decent plonk when its over priced, ill stored and mismatched; At restaurants. This surely adds to the pretence of it being a treat, an occasional indulgence, some idea of it being unattainable or unsuitable for daily life.
Dont get me wrong, there is surely no doubt it adds to the whole ‘dining experience’. When out I rarely find myself eating food I can cook at home (why pay $40 for a steak you can buy one for $12 and cook it exactly the way you want it?), but why does wine have to follow suit? There are no rules of engagement. No one will think less of you for sitting reminiscently, enjoying a glass or four of your favourite drop. Enjoyment is subjective. Taste is subjective. Who’s to tell you your palate is wrong… That a $4 bottle of wine tastes better then a $40 bottle?
Good wine isn’t always expensive, and expensive wine isn’t always good. Its completely up to you to decide. I’ve tasted decade old premium Shiraz I thought was dull and unexciting at $120 a bottle, and lost my shit drinking $10 Barossan clean skins (which while unlabelled I know for a fact was Shiraz). My favourite Sauvignon Blanc, and one that has true expressions of the cold climate nuances which propelled it to fame around to globe, costs $20. My favourite Chardonnay, one that has won countless awards at wine shows throughout Australia and the world, is $35. My two favourite Rieslings, a 2004 from The Great Southern region in WA, and a 2006 Alsatian are $31 and $34 respectively.
Ok, yeah, my favourite Pinot Noir is $90 a bottle, but fuck me it’s worth it. Every time I have a glass (this one I save for special occasions), I’m in heaven. My jaw drops, the soft velvet liquid continues down from my mouth spreading warm alcoholic pleasure through my entire body. I can taste its prestige, its heritage. I can taste where it was raised, the unique differences in its terroir, the gentle wine-making techniques used to bring out these nuances instead of being wrapped up in the vintners ego or creating something more marketable to the general public. This isn’t the general standard though, or the price you should expect to pay for good wine—I’m the first to admit I’ve had just as much fun gulping down $2 Aldi specials.
If the wines you’ve tried are uninspiring, then try some different wines. It’s as simple as that. I guarantee you will eventually find one that you will fall in love with. You’ll want to get to know this new partner, want to enjoy their company for years. You’ll get to know every last subtle expression of their personality. You’ll rush out to buy bottle after bottle, never wanting it to end. And when it inevitably does, then you’ll just have to find the next one. There are countless free wine tastings around Melbourne, Geelong, the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula every week. These are the best place to go taste near endless free samples, talk to the wine makers, to learn from reps and experienced sommeliers. These people are passionate about what they do and they want to share this passion.
The problem with loving wine is you never want to stop talking about it. The misconception of wine tastings being some archaic, stuffy, analytical process, usually held tucked away in a damp cobwebbed cellar with some fanatic who never sees the light of day, should surely be forgotten. These people, the wine makers and merchants, negotiants and enthusiasts are crying out for your patronage. So What the fuck are you waiting for? Get out there and get drinking!