Drinking Wine on the Colloquial Fringe

Welcome to January, where all the internet is making waves with resolutions and lists.  My favorite was probably from firstwefeast.com, who published a list of “20 things Everything Thinks about the Food World (but Nobody will say)“. It was an incredibly interesting list divulging secret thoughts of many eaters including “I hate tipping culture” and “tasting menus are in the domain of charlatans” as well as “tex-mex is better than real mexican”. The list is stunning and believable, and I found myself nodding along in secret, shameful agreement… And then I read this:

Look, we’re not going to argue that there aren’t different tastes in wine, or that sophisticated palates can’t discern all levels of flavor notes. But most people just drink wine because they know what it tastes like: Wine. And everything the general public is sold on after that is part physiological fast-pitch, part marketing: Those notes of oak, chocolate, raspberry, and Argentine sunshine? To most of the world, they don’t exist. At least not until we buy into them.”

OK. So, “all wine mostly tastes the same”. Can this be true? Is it true? What makes wine so high-class then? How do I know the difference, or do I know this difference I think I know? Why do I bother paying a lot more for wine when I could just have the less expensive stuff?

Let me back up a minute. My dad is a wine connoisseur, my husband is a michelin star level chef, and I smile and nod along for most of our meals. I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world… as a vegetarian (full disclosure, this term is used loosely here, I did eat fish at Noma, and I do drink wine/beer/alcohol even though technically, most of it’s not vegetarian.  More on that another time). For all intensive food purposes, I am a heathen, a health nut, and I can turn down a drink when at the pub.  But I also hate being wrong, so when the wine list comes to the table, I can fake it with the best of them.  “Oh, I prefer sauvignon blanc from New Zealand”, you’ll hear me say.  You’ll see my swirl my glass, and sniff into it, “This pinot noir has hints of berries.” And, my personal favorite along with probably many others thanks for a particular film… “Uh, anything but merlot. I hate merlot.” (Shout out to Grandma- that’s all she drinks!).

Do I know what any of that means? Well, sort of. Sauvignon blanc is white (blanc = white, we’re on the right track), red’s generally do have hints of berry (they are red after all, aren’t most berries?), and merlot, well, I am pretty sure I have never actually tasted merlot.

So here we are, Monday, January 7, 2013, and the start of this.  This blog is a new adventure for 2013. Using my limited experience with wine (I like… not much of it), and my culinary contacts ranging from sommeliers to chefs to wine makers, I am going to utilize that research degree I spent so much money on, and find out what wine drinking is, if it is possible to fake a love of wine (and would we want to?), and, most importantly, does “all wine taste the same”?

Please join me for the next year- 2013: the year of wine- as I write (drink?) my way through reds, whites, and bubbles. You can anticipate some laughter, some heartache, some interviews, and some reviews… probably a little more.  Drinking and speaking wine with this colloquial tongue on the colloquial fringe.

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7 thoughts on “Drinking Wine on the Colloquial Fringe

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  2. Wine says:


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