The first wines that I remember liking when I was 23 and 24 were widely available brands like Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz and Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon. They were a significant upgrade over the Paul Masson carafes that my folks used to drink when I was growing up. I also remember buying wines like Blackstone Merlot, Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, Bogle Merlot and Petite Sirah, and Clos du Bois Chardonnay early on, some of which I liked better than others. Eroica Riesling was considered a treat, and I've certainly moved beyond that. One of my first attempts to trying an Old World wine saw me purchasing something labeled as "Marsanne Viognier", not having any idea that Marsanne was the name of a grape.
Eventually, I decided to take out some books on wine from the library that got me interested in trying some of the better known wines from around the world. One of those books was Liquid Gold: Dessert Wines of the World
by Stephen Brook, which inspired me to really get into sweet wines of all sorts - Canadian icewines, obscure botrytis and Passito wines, and vins doux naturels, among others. There was a time in grad school when just about half of what I was buying and drinking was decidedly quite sweet. A couple of other books that furthered my interest and curiosity about new wines at this time were Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible
, and Robert Parker's 6th Buying Guide
. The Parker board in its heyday was also a great resource for me when I was just getting into wine - it even introduced me to Valtellina
- and it's unfortunate how some things changed.
Oddly, Germany was one of the last major wine-producing countries that I bothered with. Then, an '04 Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Riesling Spätlese changed everything... I just wish that I had bought more than one bottle of it way back when (okay, not THAT long ago).
Ultimately, I'm not sure that I would really find that much to enjoy with most of the wines that I first tried 8-9 years ago. And though I'd be glad to try more Canadian icewines sometime, I am afraid that they would now pale in comparison to some of the great German eisweine that I have had the chance to drink since then.