Out of Step

When I was in the wine business, I had lots of people that shared my interest in wine, and who were just as excited as I was about tasting something or learning something new. We would gabble to each other about the latest neat wine we’d tasted in Advanced Winespeak, referencing winemakers and varietals and sub-regions… gobbledeegook to other people, but fun times for us wine nerds.
What if your wine tastes are not the same as those of your friends? If you are an experienced wine nerd like me, your idea of a great thing to bring to a party is an exciting wine. (Actually, the very notion of an “exciting” wine might just brand you an insufferable wine nerd right out of the box.
Also if you are like me, a wine that excites you may not excite the rest of your party. You may be bringing Chablis to a party of I-only-drink-red-wine-because-it’s-the-real-shit drinkers. When invited to a fish fry, you may be dying to drink that sassy Provencal rose that you picked up for next to nothing, while everyone else is studiously ignoring what they think is your nasty imported WhiteZin. You might want to serve a pleasant chilled Beaujolais to your guests, but they’re convinced that they don’t like anything but Merlot.
I know everything teeIt’s harder for me to enjoy a bottle of wine I’ve brought to someone’s house if I’m the only one drinking it. Even if I’m hosting, I feel bad if no one enjoys the wine I’ve chosen for the night. Maybe it’s just my insufferable need to please, or my indefatigable desire to widen people’s wine horizons. Quite possibly, it’s just the lonely road of the wine “expert.” As your interest in wine grows, and thus your education about wine deepens, you very well may find that not everyone shares your enthusiasm. Shocking!
Similar is the path of the die-hard foodie. I am fascinated with cooking and new flavors. I am very lucky in that my husband is very willing to try new things, but the truth is that my interest in food far outstrips his. In fact, I’m more interested in food than nearly anyone I know. At this point in my life, I can share my passion for new cuisines and techniques but by and large I entertain only myself with my elaborate dinners and wide arrays of hors d’oeuvres at parties.
What I’ve noticed, though, is that people are much more willing to try new things in food than they are in wine. Or maybe I’m better at cooking than I am at wine recommending? Commending a wine, when you Really Know About Wine, can be a big responsibility. At least, I’m always worried that people will blame themselves if a wine I recommend to them fails to please their palate. I Know What I’m Talking About, so if I think something’s tasty I must be right, right? Wine mystique makes the question of taste, like Pepsi vs. Coke, into a question of expertise and sophistication. I bet Coke wishes it could put that much pressure on its prospective consumersAnyhow, poor old me and my elevated tastes, right? Paranoid about my queer little bottles and what the neighbors will think! I guess my real message is the same old, same old: try new things, and trust your own sense of taste.
Do you have specialized interests that leave you alone in a crowd? Please share your experiences with the entire class via your fancy comment!

0 comments

  1. I do! Vertical and Horizontal tastings that force me to pay attention, picking out the differences between each wine while at the same time discovering what I really like. It’s tough to do this by myself (too much wine for one person), too expensive. There was a time when I could hear a song and just take it for what it was. Since learning how to play bass and a bit about music theory, it became hard to just hear…. I have to analyze it and usually only pay attention to the lyrics at the 10th or so pass. Same happened with wine since I started walking down the winemaking road. It’s hard to just drink it…

  2. “What I’ve noticed, though, is that people are much more willing to try new things in food than they are in wine.” Hmmm…I’ve noticed the opposite.

    But, I’ve also noticed that my wine geek friends are less enthusiastic if I present a 30 year old sherry, a beer that’s way not the usual thing, etc. We have this great vermouth that we have to pour at a party one of these days and I just know there’s going to be zero enthusiasm for it (compared to the wines).

  3. Hm, Jack. I’m thinking that, when offering a new dish to someone, I usually can tempt them into it by mentioning some ingredient within that they’ve probably enjoyed elsewhere. Doesn’t guarantee that they’ll like it, though…

    And I’m dismayed at the wine geek who is underwhelmed at the chance to try a new flavor in liquid form! Tsk, tsk! I’ve never enjoyed vermouth, but if you can introduce me to one I’d like, I’m all for it.

  4. You ought to win a prize for this post. Not only was it truthfully entertaining, you used the word “indefatigable” in a blog. You rock! Or should I say, you have an unsurpassed oenologic patois.

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