Wine: Love at First Sight?
If you're like me, then you remember the many firsts in your life that are milestones to your family. For example, your wedding day. The birth of your first child. The last cruise you went on. A special birthday celebration. For many of us oenophiles (wine connoisseurs), we also remember the romance of the first wine we sipped on.
Love at First Sight...
I remember in my early teens being introduced to wine at family gatherings. My Italian Uncle
Sebastiano (“Benny," we called him) made a homemade red wine that was dry and harsh for my taste, but nonetheless formed a foundation for my palate. Later on, in my twenties, I experimented with Soave Bola. I stuck to my Italian heritage, trying both a red and white they made. Needless to say, this was much more enjoyable experience!
It was a few years later that I ordered a Merlot at a restaurant. The Merlot was from Washington State, Hogue Cellars being the winery. And that was that. I was hooked. The wine was delicious, balanced, and paired well with my dinner. I still have a soft spot for Merlot wines to this day.
How My Wine Journey Began
Later on, in 1994, I took my first trip to Napa Valley to learn how wines were made. This experience was the beginning of my love, appreciation and fondness for wine and wine culture. We went on the Silverado Trail and biked through Napa Valley, stopping at Sattui, Mondavi, Stone Gate, Clos Pegase, Robert Pecota and Cuvaison. At each winery, my excitement about my wine journey was building. I wanted to understand how wines were made, so I met with winemakers and vineyard managers to see firsthand their passion for this fermented fruit and nectar of the gods.
Over the years, my fondness for red wines has appreciated exponentially. I have traveled to the wine regions of Italy, Argentina, Germany and Oregon/Washington. My tastes have only expanded and developed to enjoy all of these areas.
During a recent visit from some awesome winemakers - like Nils Venge of Saddleback, Krutz Winery, Jensen, Kirk Venge of Sileneaux and many others - I have been granted many opportunities to learn and handpick wines for our customers.
The wine industry has evolved since I first began my wine journey. Today I am still drawn to small, family-owned wineries that focus on small production and work the vineyards every day. You begin to notice subtle differences with wines as your palate develops.
Although I still enjoy Merlot, my real joys come from Italian-made Barolo and Montepulciano
wines, as well as Argentinian Malbec and Bonarda. Not to mention, the richness of Pinot Noir still finds its way into our personal cellar and wine glasses.
Wherever you are in your wine journey, start with a glass. Then a bottle. Then explore the flavors, aromas, and complexity that you desire in a wine. Do you remember your first wine?