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MattThr

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Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by MattThr » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:56 am

My first post on this site was - more or less - a year ago. During that year I've had a great time exploring the world of wine through books and, of course, tasting. I thought it'd be interesting to spend a little time reflecting on what I've learned and how my attitudes and opinions have changed. I became interested in wine almost by accident. Like many people I used to buy wine simply by scouring the supermarket shelves and buying bottles with the biggest discounts. A little over a year ago I hit a seriously prolonged bad patch in the quality of what I was drinking. I decided that it was worth trying to learn a little bit about wine - enough at least so that I could make informed choices about what I was buying. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. As I started to read and discuss and sample I found the subject more and more interesting and before I knew it, I was hooked!

On Price

As I've started to drink more widely I've found that there is certainly a connection between price and quality, but that the connection is very thin. I recently stocked up on an excellent Shiraz Cabernet which was being flogged off at £4 a bottle. I have also had a number of expensive disappointments. The latter unfortunately seem to outnumber the former, although this may simply be a reflection of my being willing to pay more for wine and the fact it seems less of a waste if you've spent a paltry sum on a poor bottle. On the flip side the very best wines I've had have all been upward of £10 a bottle.

My conclusion is that one can buy very, very good wine at very, very reasonable prices, but to get the top quality you do need to pay and run a very significant risk of paying through the nose for a duff wine. If this is true, no wonder that not many people are willing to experiment.

I have yet to pay over £20 for a bottle. This is due to a mixture of factors - financial constraints, the fact that I will be very annoyed if I get a wine I don't like at that price and the perception that I'd probably be buying a wine which would benefit from significant aging.

My Favourite Wines

I've drunk a number of wines this year. On quality alone (ignoring the price), these three stood out for me:

* Mas d'en Gil 2003 "Coma Vella"
* Chateau La Roche Beaulieu 2002 "Amavinum"
* Loacker 2006 "Isargus" Pinot Grigio

On Storing Wine

It seems to be an absurdly difficult thing to judge how long a wine might benefit from storage. As far as I can tell the usual approach seems to be to buy in a case and open one every year until you've judged the wine has reached it's peak, then drink the lot. If you're not made of money and/or don't have a lot of storage space then this seems difficult advice to follow, and is yet another factor counting against a wider appreciation of wine across society.

I have both issues. I've started to lay down some bottles to age but I don't have space to store more than maybe 12 bottles and conditions aren't ideal. At some point we're planning to have an extension built on to the house, but the potential solutions seems ludicrously expensive, and I'm wondering if I can ask the builders just to leave a hole in the floor I can stuff a couple of cases in!

On Tasting

I have spent a significant number of years working in laboratories surrounded by volatile chemicals - I'm certain that these have affected my sense of taste and smell. My partner is occasionally appalled because I won't be able to pick out what she perceives as strong flavours in food. I am therefore completely paranoid that I am not able to appreciate my wine to the fullest extent and am missing lots of deliciously subtle nuances and writing bad notes. I have no idea whether I can or should attempt to confirm that this is true, and if it is, what I can do about it, but it continues to haunt me every time I open a new bottle.

I have yet to do much in the way of comparative tasting - vertical or horizontal. I'd like to but I can't open a range of bottles just for myself (what a waste!) and I don't belong to any wine groups where such a thing might be possible. Right now, I don't have the time. Even if I did, there are other social activities I'd pursue in preference. One of the things I like about wine as a hobby is that you can do it by yourself :) I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of information about wine because I've not done this - I can't speak with any kind of authority in terms of comparing different styles or vintages until I do.

On Classification

Whoever invented the AOC system ought to be shot. I get the point - really I do - but it is the most absurdly impenetrable mess. The Italian and Spanish interpretations of it are even worse. Old World winemakers could do themselves and immense favour and increase sales considerably simply by putting the principle grape varieties on the bottle alongside the origin!

I've got to grips with the major regions of France and Spain. Italy and the more obscure levels of classification (especially in places like Burgundy) are proving somewhat more difficult.

My favoured regions for wine so far seem to be Chablis, Rioja and left-bank Bordeaux.

On New vs Old World

Seems very simple to me. Old world wines tend to be more complex, New world wines tend to be more intense. Finding both in a bottle seems to be a very rare treat, although this might be a reflection of the price cap I've set myself. Neither seems "better" than the other to me, and I get slightly annoyed by people who espouse the idea that complexity is more important than intensity and sneer at one-dimensional new world wines.

On Varietals

Before I started wine has a hobby I would buy on the basis of varietals and had particular favourites - Sauvignon Blanc for white and Tempranillo and Merlot for red. After experimenting more widely I can no longer say that I have any real favourites - different varietals and regions go well with different experiences and moods.

I've yet to try but I'm fairly convinced I could now spot a small number of varietals in blind tasting. In particular:
* Sauvignon Blanc, because it seems to have a number of fairly unique flavours such as grass, asparagus and the infamous "cat pee" that are rarely found in other wines.
* Dolcetto, because it always seems to taste of almonds to me and has a difficult-to-describe "bright" acidity about it.
* Pinot Noir, because no matter how ripe and carefully cultured the grapes are the wine always seems to have a background note of mouldering leaves.

On Wine and Food

I don't really do wine and food. This is largely because I have a toddler running round the house and wine at family mealtimes would be an accident waiting to happen. I'm also vegetarian and put off by the constant refrain of meat dishes to go with wine and the general pro-meat attitude that prevails in discussions of wine and food matching.

This does not however seem to have stopped me enjoying and appreciating a wide variety of wine. So I get pretty cross when I hear people saying that it's pointless to drink wine without a meal. I do wonder what I might be missing out on sometimes though.

Where Now

After a year I find my interest in the subject waining slightly, although I remain delighted by my newfound knowledge. The main reason for this is that I don't know where to "go" from here - I can't store wine, can't afford more expensive wine, can't do comparative tastings and have learned the major characteristics of the major regions and grapes. However it's still fun to sit down with a glass of something new and take enough time and care over appreciating it to write a tasting note. I doubt that'll ever change.

I'm looking forward to the summer because I've thusfar not been through too many whites, as I tend to hold them for the hotter weather. There are a number of bottles I've got stashed away representing the white wines of regions and grapes I've yet to try.

Beyond that, who knows?
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Robin Garr » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:19 am

MattThr wrote:My first post on this site was - more or less - a year ago. During that year I've had a great time exploring the world of wine through books and, of course, tasting. I thought it'd be interesting to spend a little time reflecting on what I've learned and how my attitudes and opinions have changed.

Outstanding! Just outstanding! Matt, I'll comment more specifically later on some of your points, and I'm sure others will too. The wine-and-vegetarian issue is one close to my heart even though I'm an omnivore, and the more I experiment, the more I know it can be done. But that's small stuff. I truly enjoyed reading your post - it's one for the archives - and I didn't want to delay being the first forumit to rise to his feet with wild, thunderous applause. :)
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:22 am

Just a quick hit here as well - great post.

White wine is frequently the most flexible with vegetarian foods. If you have not tried Grüner Veltliner yet then please try it soon. There's no more flexible match for spring and summer vegetarian cuisine in my opinion.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Robin Garr » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:29 am

David M. Bueker wrote:White wine is frequently the most flexible with vegetarian foods. If you have not tried Grüner Veltliner yet then please try it soon. There's no more flexible match for spring and summer vegetarian cuisine in my opinion.

This really justifies a separate thread. In principle, I agree with your statement, but maybe because it IS more challenging, I almost get more joy out of crafting a vegetarian dish that really sings with a red. I think there's an "umami" issue in there somewhere, but generally speaking I find that beans, cheese, tomato paste/sauce, caramelization/Maillard effect and soy sauce/hoisin/miso and related flavors work well for me. I did a pan-fried tofu with a hoisin-based sauce the other night that stepped right up to a fruity Israeli Cabernet.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:48 am

Well realize (as I am sure you do) that I am more than a little pro-white wine. I craft many of my meals around white wine, and force fit white much more than I force fit red.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:57 am

Yup, this is a really great read. This has been a great month so far, especially the Cahors report from our Tim.
Cannot digest all this right now as busy organising inner-city kids outing on 26th. 4 buses, yikes!!!
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by James Dietz » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:13 pm

If you find your interest waning, maybe you need some wine drinking mates.. see if you can't find a group of like-minded folks who get together to try different wines.... go to tasting at stores.... drinking in isolation is.. well.. just drinking.. and wine and food is ultimately what it is all about.. that will un-wane you...
Cheers, Jim
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Dale Williams » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:20 pm

Nice post. Happy "anniversary!"

As to what wines will age, I do think track record is a good clue. That's one place a good speciality retailer's suggestion can make a difference. But it's even more important to know whether you LIKE wines with age more- some people don't. It would be terrible to design a space for storage and then find you don't like aged wines.

There's also obviously no requirement to have wine with food. If you prefer wine before or after your meal, fine. However, if you want to try wine and food matching, both Robin and David offered sound advice (re Gruner as a good choice with veggies, and umami flavors with reds). I'd add mushrooms to Robin's list of foods that do well with reds.

If you're in a rural area it might be impossible. But it really is great to do some group tasting. Not only does it help a lot to be able to taste multiple wines side by side, but I find I learn a lot from others' comments.

Thanks for your contributions here!
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Robin Garr » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:32 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I'd add mushrooms to Robin's list of foods that do well with reds.

D'oh! As well you should! I can't believe I left that out. :oops: Thanks, Dale.

Good overall advice to Matt, too.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Mark Lipton » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:38 pm

Matt,
I'll add to the chorus of voices praising your post -- very interesting and thoughtful. A few comments: firstly, my wife and I are both experimental chemists who worked for several decades in the lab. Neither of us feel that our sense of smell has been in the least compromised, so don't assume that you've lost anything. You might just not have been born with the most sensitive sense of smell, but keep in mind that organoleptic memory (the ability to recall and identify smells) can be trained using kits that contain various concocted scents. You can Google "Le Nez du Vin" for one such kit. Secondly, as James Dietz mentioned, perhaps you need to find some like-minded winegeeks to purchase and taste wines with. Even with limited means, a group of 8 or 10 can pool resources to taste some Grand Cru Burgundy or Classed Growth Bordeaux. Lastly, for the food/wine pairing conundrum for vegetarians, I'll put in a plug for the guide that Dale Williams has assembled:

http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com/wine/match.php#l20

Best of luck to you,
Mark Lipton
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Ben Rotter » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:54 pm

Thanks for providing an interesting read!

IMO, the QPR in the UK would generally go roughly as follows:
QPR.jpg
(10.46 KiB) Downloaded 7079 times


Where to go from here? I would certainly recommend drinking with other people, even if not a tasting group. Drinking wine with other's who also appreciate wine is probably the number one factor toward potentially increasing your drinking enjoyment. Comparative tastings can be insightful in terms of cost/quality and personal preference too, which can aid your buying decisions as well as being fun - if you taste with other wine lovers then you can each just bring a bottle along and drink them all together.

I totally agree re the "wine must be drink with food" nonsense. Matching wine with vegetarian food is probably perceived as more difficult because many traditional pairings include meat, and a lot of good vegetarian food involves spices or flavours which can be challenging for wine pairing. (It's something I'm always working on personally. In principle I don't think it should be any more difficult if the right principles are followed: for e.g., I recently made baked stuffed red peppers (with a rice/herb/olive oil/tomato/onion mixture) which worked well with red wine because (i) the acidity of the food was taken above that of the wine (perception-wise) by adding wine and vinegar to the stuffing, and (ii) olive oil was added to the stuffing to give a greater sense of body.) But this topic deserves a new thread as Robin suggests.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Sam Platt » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:01 pm

After a year I find my interest in the subject waining slightly, although I remain delighted by my newfound knowledge.


Matt,

Over the years I have found that the intensity of my focus on wine waxes and wanes. I don't really know why. It's probably a function of time available, and competing demands. Occasionally stumbling on to a new region, or producer will rekindle my enthusiasm. So far this year my efforts to find inexpensive wines have been enjoyable. Just stay the course.

Sam
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by MattThr » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:48 pm

Thanks for your responses - I never imagined that my ramblings would provoke such enthusiasm!

One thing I forgot to mention is that another thing I've learned from the year is that my original purpose - to be able to pick out and good wines I know nothing about from the chaff - is likely nigh-on impossible!

David M. Bueker wrote:If you have not tried Grüner Veltliner yet then please try it soon.


I've tried one and found it extremely good indeed. I keep meaning to get some more but never seem to get round to it. I never considered pairing it with food - when I do get some more I shall have to bear that in mind when I drink, and see what matches I can come up with.

The only attempt I've made at food and wine matching so far - on the basis of matching regional wines with regional cuisine - is to buy a bottle of pretty expensive Chianti Classico because we eat a lot of tomato-based pasta sauces. Because of the toddler mealtime issue, it's still in the store cupboard, but I'll get round to cooking something to have with it one day.

Ben Rotter wrote:IMO, the QPR in the UK would generally go roughly as follows


I'd generally agree with your graph. It's a bit of a shame that in the UK a lot of people seem to be very stuck on a "£5 cap" on wine spending, when going up into the £6-10 bracket can still yield impressive improvements in quality.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Ian Sutton » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:12 pm

Like Robin I'm acutely aware that such a well-thought out post deserves more time and consideration than I can give it now.

I'll hopefully catch up at the weekend 8)

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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Sue Courtney » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:19 pm

MattThr wrote:My first post on this site was - more or less - a year ago.

Where Now
After a year I find my interest in the subject waining slightly, although I remain delighted by my newfound knowledge. The main reason for this is that I don't know where to "go" from here - I can't store wine, can't afford more expensive wine, can't do comparative tastings and have learned the major characteristics of the major regions and grapes. However it's still fun to sit down with a glass of something new and take enough time and care over appreciating it to write a tasting note. I doubt that'll ever change.

I'm looking forward to the summer because I've thusfar not been through too many whites, as I tend to hold them for the hotter weather. There are a number of bottles I've got stashed away representing the white wines of regions and grapes I've yet to try.

Beyond that, who knows?


Fascinating post and don't worry where it will go from here. As I said in another post, wine is a never ending journey of discovery. The need to discover may wax and wane but you've set a solid foundation for when you want to go forward - and sounds like that will be very soon.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Rahsaan » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:40 pm

MattThr wrote:One thing I forgot to mention is that another thing I've learned from the year is that my original purpose - to be able to pick out and good wines I know nothing about from the chaff - is likely nigh-on impossible!


Oh, it's possible. It may take a bit longer in the beginning because you're pursuing such a broad-based approach. But, after a while, you start to become familiar with the couple dozen (or in some cases handful) of good producers in any given region. Then, with just a passing familiarity with vintage issues, you should at least have a rough guide to what to expect.

In addition, once you know your preferences for specific producers, vintages, or even styles of wine, as long as you can communicate that to a retail clerk or sommelier, you should be able to navigate menus and selections much better than before.

On your point about AOCs, I have to disagree. Perhaps it would be useful to put both region and grape on the label. But, I don't see AOC labelling as shooting itself in the foot any more than New World labelling that just puts the grape name. Doesn't tell you much either.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Dale Williams » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:48 pm

MattThr wrote:One thing I forgot to mention is that another thing I've learned from the year is that my original purpose - to be able to pick out and good wines I know nothing about from the chaff - is likely nigh-on impossible!
.


Rahsaan beat me to it. I'm sure whether its apparent or not you are much better than separating wheat from chaff.
There's an old saying apropos Burgundy that actually is pretty pertinent in most regions:
"what are the three most important things to look at? Producer, producer, producer"
Sure, vineyard/village matter, and so does vintage. But a producer whose wines you like consistently (both stylistically and qualitatively) is the biggest single factor.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Steve Slatcher » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:31 am

Thanks for sharing your thought with us Matt. Here are a few in response.

Ben is not too far out with his QPR chart. Except I'd replace "quality" by "enjoyment" (a philosophical distrinction really), and I'd say there is a heck of a lot of scatter that wipes out most of the underlying trend.

I find the only way to consistently buy wines I enjoy is to taste them first. Ideally get a taster first, then if you like if buy a single bottle and drink it as you would normally. And only then consisder buying multiple bottles.

Presumably you are having a concrete floor in your extension? But under floorboard storage is not at all a bad solution! Alternatively an unheated dark cupboard would probably do the trick in the London climate. Or (assuming you don't have underfloor heating) behind the kickboards under kitchen units is another cunning place.

I honestly don't believe there is a "perfect" time to open a maturing wine - in the same way as quality is not an absolute. Keep bottles if you think it might be fun, open them when others suggest they might be ready (or earlier, or later), and enjoy them for what they are. The thing is not to get too hung up about it.

I find tastings very useful for steering my purchasing decisions, as mentioned above, and also enjoyable socially. I am not sure how much authority it gives you though. Tastings, especially blind ones, can be very humbling experiences. You also learn that most other people are thrashing about trying to learn and understand in much the same way that you are. But it does teach you a little about how wines mature etc, and more importantly you do get to understand you own tastes a lot better.

If there is a Majestic close to you, do at least spend a few minutes there every so often and check out the wines they have on tasting. It may at first be a bit embarrassing - tasting without buying - but with practice you learn to get over it :)

I agree with you on appellation systems. Yes I get the point too, and I agree in principle with most of the ideas. But it is a complete mess!

Not sure I agree with you on new vs old world, or PN, but the whole point is for people to find their own tags, and ways of recognising things. There's no right and wrong.

On food and wine: don't let anyone tell you how to drink your wine! I personally DO like to drink it with food, but there is a lot of crap talked about wine being "designed" to go with food, and food-wine matching.

Your interest is waning? Already? I really am not convinced you are a wine geek at all. You sound more like a normal well-balanced individual! Do pop back here every now and then at least, though.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Howie Hart » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:08 pm

MattThr wrote:...Where NowAfter a year I find my interest in the subject waining slightly, although I remain delighted by my newfound knowledge...
Start making your own wine! It's a challenge that won't go unrewarded and, speaking from experience, you can make wines as good as, and at times, better than ones you buy in the store.
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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Ian Sutton » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:02 pm

Price
Yes indeed price is often a factor in enjoyment. Enjoying a £3 bottle of wine that drinks like a £10 bottle is great. The reverse is ... well the opposite! That said, I find little value in branded commercial wine at £7 or less. This wasn't always the case, but times move on. There are some good value cheapies around, but it's sometimes a question of finding the right region/producer. For me value is probably strongest in the £10-15 range, but then that's clouded if buying older wines.

Coma Velha
Yep enjoyable indeed, though the 2002 was a bit of a let-down (poor vintage and a poorer wine)

Storing Wine
This used to be a big problem for me (when living in a flat) and certainly was a significant restriction to my interest in wine (of which patient cellaring is a part, as well as on any evening having a choice of good wines immediately on hand).
Options?
- Store in cardboard boxes as you're doing - the cardboard insulates against temperature variation, vibration and also keeps light out. Not perfect, but better than many wine shops
- Buy a wine fridge. Not too expensive, there are some decent cheapies on the market, but still plenty of stuff that's overpriced. Worth considering and there are even kitchen worktop models, or ultra-slimline ones.
- Trusted friends / relatives. If someone else has a decent cellar and doesn't use it, then maybe they'd keep your wine stored for you.
- Commercial storage. Plenty around, but having one local makes best sense. Some wine merchants offer a competitive cellaring price for wines bought from them (e.g. the Wine Society). It's an option.

For me I stuck with a single wooden (6 bottle) case for quite a while, though by necessity this meant most wine was being bought for very short term drinking. I now have ~ 250 bottles in racking + boxes under the stairs and a decent size wine fridge. Purchase of an additional wine fridge is imminent.

Tasting
No matter what anyone says, there is no perfect palate. Not yours, not mine, not Jancis, not Parker. Even Michael Broadbent, one of the best and most respected tasters of our time, is very modest about his own palate. It takes a while to develop confidence in your own palate, but even then it varies day by day, mood by mood. It varies with temperature, food, preseeding wines. The quiet drinking, alone or with ones partner, can be a good way to focus on likes/dislikes and to develop a palate vocabulary (something I'm immensely limited in).

On the flip-side though, it's really good to occasionally get along to one of the big winetastings (usually in London). There's an Italian one organised by Decanter magazine in May IIRC, so I really need to see if we can make it. I haven't been to one for 2-3 years, but do recall them as a great way to sample widely. Palate fatigue is a real issue at such tastings, so see if you can get a wine list from the organisers in advance. Then go through with a pencil and whittle the 700 or so wines down to about 40 that you really want to taste, plus another 40 that are also of interest. If you find a producer you like though, be prepared to put the list to one side and taste the range. Spit if you like, but I tend not to. Don't feel bad about having a sip or two and then binning the remainder in the spittoons. They are worthwhile events, but always worth thinking how you'll avoid the worst of the crowds. Also worth noting that there are more than a few 'trophy chasers' who seek just to taste the most expensive wines (which as a consequence can go quickly). That's not to say avoid these (far from it), but if there's something you really want to taste, then don't be afraid to slot it in early.

As for vertical tasting... I've done a small number and still claim no authority. It's interesting, but as with much of this hobby, still imprecise. Weather, comparitive age, condition of bottle, growing and winemaking regime/personalities all can make a mockery of easy comparisons. Horizontals ditto. It's good to do them, but as Toby Bailey on the UK wine forum said a few years ago, people often try to overdo the theme idea. Sometimes it's just good to sit down with a few bottles and some good friends and enjoy the wines (and the company).

Classification
No doubt that for years the AC system was a godsend for French winemakers. Collective marketing giving economies of scale, but with products that were already well known (and I'd say it's a lot easier to remember Cotes du Rhone than the names of a few hunded wineries) and at least perceived as 'best in class'. Times changed though, and I guess more than a few got lazy (or at least lazier). Then the Aussies (and others) came along, with a warmer climate (avoiding the awfully tart, green wines that used to characterise cheap French wine), simpler labelling, English language naming and more freedom to adapt to the market. The most prestigious French wine regions to a degree can ride this sort of challenge, with consistent investment, established reputations and a strong established demand. Wine drinkers will come to them. It's interesting to see how the South of France has reacted in recent years and the challenge is on.

That doesn't sound like a strong support for the AOC system? Well I guess I'm not the best person to defend it, but I do firmly believe in the benefits of preserving traditional styles & skills, of winemakers and grapegrowers banding together to maintain a common style that you can buy with 'some' confidence that you know what you're getting. Above all else they can act as an anchor to new trends and developments. Sometimes this is bad (where old bad habits are enshrined in local rules). In other instances they provide resistance to the development of an 'international wine style', or one that certain critics laud, or that commercial organisations (e.g. supermarkets) demand. One grower alone may feel vulnerable and feel they have to adapt. A tight-knit association of producers may feel they have history, regional pride and their fellow producers to think about before the demands of a Tesco or Archan or Carrefour.

Taking it region by region is the only really practical way to do it. For me it was Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, plus a smattering of France, then Italy in a big way. Spain is coming along slowly, ditto USA. Germany is an occasional diversion as are a number of other countries. I reckon I know Aussie wines very well (at least in name recognition of wineries/regions etc), Italy, France and NZ next.

Old world vs. new world
Yup, plenty of bigots around (or in the better cases, people whose palate just doesn't align to one or the other). It's a real joy to appreciate a wide range of wines. The diversity, whilst a right royal pain in the neck to start, over time becomes a great benefit, allowing a wide choice depending on mood, food, company or just personal whim.

Wine with food
We do eat food with wine on the whole. Part routine, part balance to the alcohol, part lubrication and part in the hope the two flavours will work together. That being said, there will be times that the wine just doesn't go with the food. Easy. Eat the food & then drink the wine! In reality 'the brains of the operation' does this most of the time anyway and I may only have 4-5 sips/gulps whilst I'm eating a dish. Wine & food matching is generally over-stressed IMO, though in wine circles there does seem to be a good appreciation that it's imprecise, but with plenty of alternatives rather than the 'perfect match'.

Where from here?
You may well find the lack of storage space a limiting factor, plus the demands of a young family. If anything I'd think of it as perhaps a slow stage of development, where wine is an interest as against a hobby (for me it is very much a hobby and the main hobby at that). When circumstances change, then maybe the interest become a hobby and you can become the obsessive geek that many of us are :D

That said, your writing on the subject is excellent and I really enjoy your posts. You have an open and enquiring mind and coupled with a considered writing style make for good reading. You've really added to this forum in the year you've been posting.

regards

Ian
Drink coffee, do stupid things faster
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Clinton Macsherry

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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by Clinton Macsherry » Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:07 pm

Piling on, Matt, to say very nice reflections. Only thing I don't quite understand is why you say you can't do comparison tasting. Your partner drinks too, no? Even opening just two bottles at once and tasting side-by-side can be very enlightening, IMO. Assuming you and your partner drink half a bottle (or more) in a sitting, waste shouldn't be an issue.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Reflections on a year of being a wine geek

by David M. Bueker » Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:42 pm

CLinton raises an interesting point that brings a thought to mind: find some half bottles. That way you can try a couple of wines side by side.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.

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