The Passion (for wine, that is)
Yesterday, I read Tom Wark’s Fermentation post on the 20 Things Every Wine Lover Should Do. His list should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in wine. After reading it, I started thinking of my own personal list and that got me thinking about why I’m such a wine lover and sometimes a wine geek.
I like to think of myself as a fairly multi-dimensional person…well, at least when I don’t have my nose down in a wine glass. I enjoy a lot of different activities that have nothing to do with beverages. So what elevates wines to that special place where I’m willing to spend so much of my time and money on something most people take for granted as just a beverage? I’m sure my family and non-wino friends would love to know.
During the past 30 years, wine has always been a constant part of my life.
I have taken up many avocations in the past—mountaineering, sailing, cycling, woodworking, even gardening—but most of these hobbies eventually become a very minor part of my life or just happy memories. However, during the past 30 years, wine has always been a constant part of my life. At first just a curiosity, later a fun diversion, and lately an all-consuming passion. I believe the reason is that with wine there’s always something new for me. There’s always more to learn.
I guess I have some form of ADD. I’m not talking the short-term kind that prevents people from focusing, but rather the kind in which I get bored after I learn enough to be proficient at an activity. But with wine, there’s always something new to learn. There’s always more wine than I’ll ever be able to taste and too many different aspects of wine to become bored—from tasting it, to traveling to winemaking regions, to making wine. Add writing to that and now I have an activity that appeals to both my creative “wine-lover” side and my analytical “wine-geek” side.
Back to Tom’s 20 Things. I agree with most of the activities he lists, but I think he left out a few that I consider important things to do as a wine lover:
Help out a small winemaker during crush or bottling
There is nothing like the feeling of camaraderie you get when you volunteer to help at your favorite small winery. There is a real sense of accomplishment in something as mundane as punching down the cap, sticking on labels or shoving a cork into a bottle. The winery gets cheap labor and in exchange, you gain a greater appreciation for the process and might even get a few bottles in the end. Being with the winemaker and others knowledgeable with the process, you might even learn about winemaking. Which leads to the next thing…
Try your hand at making your own wine.
This is probably the ultimate wine geek activity and experience. Winemaking is a simple process that’s been done for thousands of years. Making a few gallons of your own wine is very rewarding because you get to learn all the intimate details of the winemaking process which you control. This knowledge allows you to talk with winemakers and know what it means when they speak about acidity, residual sugars and barrel toast levels. And hopefully you’ll end up with some decent wine to drink or even serve to your friends. Plus, you can show off your purple hands as a badge of honor at your next wine function.
Share your passion
Do you remember when you were just getting started and attended your first blind tasting? Remember how intimidating it was to be around all those knowledgeable wine lovers? Didn’t they try to help you out and share their knowledge? So now it’s your turn. We all know people who might enjoy knowing a bit more about wine, but may also be intimidated by all the formalities and the perception of wine snobbery. So why not organize a fun casual tasting with these people and give a basic lesson. It doesn’t have to be an educational geekfest, just something to let them get a “taste” of all the fun that can be had. Just remember Tom’s item #14: don’t overdo it and make your guest’s eyes glaze over with information overload.
Is wine a passion for you? What’s on your list?