I remember not drinking wine at all because I was intimidated by the whole buying experience. I worried about choosing the “right” wine, as if it were a grown–up multiple-choice test complete with secret handshake. Clearly there were some people who had the inside scoop and I was sure to get it wrong.
The marketers have done a really great job developing an elitist image. I can’t tell you the number of times I stood staring at those bottles on the grocery store shelves, feeling like I was not good enough or knowledgeable enough to choose one. So what has changed now that I am a Certified Sommelier? Now that I have spent literally hundreds of hours studying wines from around the world, I finally realized I had to forget everyone else’s opinion. My professional advice for you is a “good wine” is the one YOU like.
Here is where wine snobs of the world, including many of my fellow sommeliers, gasp in horror. We are all made to think we are supposed to like certain select wines or regions complete with conversations about the “nose” and words like “terroir”. If for some reason we don’t get all that, well then clearly there is something wrong with you. Ever been made to feel that way? Yup, me too.
News flash – you are not the problem. Here is another way to look at it. My husband loves grilled asparagus. Put a little olive oil and garlic on those puppies, throw them on the grill and he is a happy camper. Me? To me those are just little green sticks of nastiness. I really hate asparagus, no matter what you do to it. Who is right? We both are.
The same is true for wine. A wine is a really good wine if you like it. End of story. It is not better if it came from here or there. It is not better if you paid a lot for it. To be honest, some of my favorite wines are in the ten to fifteen dollars a bottle range.
Here is my professional advice; it is time to get over all of this “getting it right” stuff and just have a little fun. Explore wine in your own way, any way that appeals to you. Don’t feel like you have to stick with just Chardonnay for whites or Cabernet for reds because you think you are supposed to. Branch out. Pick the bottle with the coolest looking label. Find the one from a place you would like to visit, or the place where you live. Single varietals are not necessarily better than blends. In fact, the opposite can be true. Blends are a great place to start if you are unsure.
Just like so many things in life, once we get over being that fear of jumping in, it can be really fun. Still not convinced? Here is a little insider tip; see all those every bottles on that shelve in front of you? They have already been tasted and vetted by someone whose job depends on someone just like you buying it, liking it and coming back for more. Believe it or not, the grocery store shelves are a safe place to explore.
See that bottle over there you are drawn to for some unknown reason? Yes, I see you biting your lip. Go ahead. Chances are you will like it. Even if it ends up not being your new favorite, you will have tried something new and hopefully had some fun along the way. Oh, and if those wine snobs give you any of that “better than thou” stuff, tell them you are following the advice of your personal Sommelier.