As we begin the new year, here's some "wine for thought" to help you get the most out of buying wine in 2014:
1) Don't Let Anyone Tell You What You Should Like
Oh, you only like sweet wine? Great! You only like wines that smell like a horse stable? Great!
The human range of taste perception is huge. Not only does the number of taste buds vary dramatically from person to person, but there's a bevy of psychological factors that can effect your perception, as well as specific health issues (for example, medication can radically effect the flavor of wine). So don't feel guilty liking what you like. Find a trusted source like Murphy's Wine Shop that can help you find wines that YOU enjoy.
2) Be Adventurous
This may sound slightly contradictory to item #1, but part of the fun of wine is finding out what you DO like. It's a big wide world of wine out there with unbelievable variety. Sure, there's some great wine from Napa Valley, and maybe you feel comfortable knowing what you're going to get, but who wants to eat pizza EVERY day. If you like big, dark reds, try some Tempranillo from Northern Spain, or some of Tuscany's modern marvels. The Rhone Valley offers some delicious, concentrated values, and even Bierzo in Western Spain may surprise you with the Mencia grape. There's even some surprisingly great non-fortified reds from Portugal that will shock you for the price. Avoid California Pinot Noir burnout by exploring styles from France's Burgundy and Loire Valley (especially the Gamay/Pinot blends). You may find you really like Cru Beaujolais, or affordable Nebbiolo and Barbara from Italy's famous Piedmont region. There's far too many to mention, but just like I think it's a good idea to explore other cultures and cuisine to broaden your tastes and perspective, I think it's a good idea to explore new wine!
3) Venerate Wine As More Than Just Alcohol
I'm not saying don't enjoy a good buzz. Definitely not saying that (!), but there's something different about wine than just being a medium to party. It's a living, changing, entity capable of inducing profound experiences of emotion and pleasure. From the vines struggling in harsh conditions, to hands that pick and sort the grapes, to the years of expertise that go into artisanal winemaking, I think it's a good idea to at least think about this when your drinking and buying wine. In a wine world of increasingly homogenous styles, mass-production, and marketing gimmicks, I think it's more important than ever to seek out wines that have individual character, heart, and that old catch phrase, "A Sense Of Place." I think this is one of the many reasons to shop with a Wine Consultant. We taste so much wine, and learn so much about them, that you
4) Treat Yourself
It's good to keep yourself honest! You don't' need to drink expensive wine every night, but every once in a while it's good to treat yourself with a wine that might normally be out of your league. It may just remind you why you drink wine in the first place, and help you appreciate the good values when they come. Plus, it's nice having something to look forward to for that special occasion, or dinner with friends. A good rule might be to toss in one really good bottle for every case or so you buy. Put it away, forget about it for awhile, and rejoice when you finally pull it out.
Wine is almost always better when shared with good company and conversation. Turning people on to wine is an exciting endeavor, and something people won't forget you for. Encourage your friends to buy better wine too so you're not always the one popping the good stuff. Good wine, food, friends can be one of the great joys of life. Spread the joy!
Murphy's Wine Shop
977 Virginia Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30306