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The 3 Things You Really Need for Better Wine Appreciation

Vinted on February 25, 2009 binned in learning wine, wine eBook, wine products, zen wine

Actually, I lied.

doubleazonecom-easySince you will also need a decent corkscrew and a wine glass, you actually need five things to better appreciate wine.  But no more than five, and those last two are just enablers (as we say in my office).

But first, a bit of preamble (as we also say in my office)…

When I tell people that one of my jobs is related to wine, they give me a strange look.  It’s the same look they give me whenever it comes up in conversation that one of my other jobs is as a musician (oddly, I receive very few disparaging comments on the fact that playing rock music and drinking comprise a contribution to my income).

It is not a look of admiration.

It’s more like the look I imagine that people would give the embalmed and glowing remains of an alien corpse if it was discovered on this planet and then put on display somewhere.  A look that says, “Hmmm… you are strange and perhaps you possess some strange powers that I do not understand…

But there is nothing strange, magical, or otherworldly about wine appreciation (or playing music – ok, playing music is strange but that has more to do with most club owners being weirdos).

Why wine appreciation has been put on a pedestal is beyond me.  I understand how it happened (a great write-up of which was the topic of a recent post by Alder Yarrow over at the excellent Vinography.com).  But I will never understand why it happened.

warehousecarlhcom-alien_autopsy_2It’s a myth that is perpetuated by many of the established wine magazines and some of their wine critic staff, because, like credit card companies finding suckers who are already in debt as potential new customers, or fake alien autopsy videos looking for true believers, it makes them money.

In fact, I can tell you from first-hand experience that wine appreciation is actually pretty easy. Look at me – I did it, and… well, you tell me: do you think I’m the smartest guy you know?

Didn’t think so.

If it helps, before you jump in and start buying vino by the case, just spend a day telling yourself that wine appreciation is NOT hard – in fact, it’s easy and natural.  I’ve done this before starting anything that I’d previously convinced myself was “too hard” to try.  Works like a charm (but maybe I’m just self-gullible?).

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase.

The 3 Things You Really Need (To Do) for Better Wine Appreciation:

  1. Taste.  A lot.
    No secret or mystic initiation rites here.  Just start tasting. Buy a bottle and taste.  There is no prep. work required.  Just do it.

    Yes, it’s that simple.

    Look at it this way – how else would you try anything new?  If I served you a dinner dish that you’d never had before, would you need to do any prep. work before you tried it to see if you liked it (or didn’t like it)?  The idea is totally preposterous.  If buying wine frightens you, then buy online from any of the great retailers that advertise on this blog – they’ll help you find something decent in your price range. The important thing to note here is that you have nothing to fear by jumping right in and tasting.

  2. Note what you like – and what you don’t like.
    This is easy as well.  When you taste a wine, write it down.  Pay special attention to what you like in the taste of that wine (remember, we’re tasting here, not guzzling), and what you don’t like.

    This will help you to do two important things: a) learn what floats your boat about certain wines so you can enjoy more like those, and b) learn what you want to avoid in certain wines because you don’t like those tastes.  For example, I don’t like mushrooms.  In fact, I hate mushrooms.  It’s fungus, for gods’ sake.  Or cream.  Don’t lke cream either – turns my digestive system totally inside out (whoops… TMI…).  Cream of mushroom soup is right out.  How do I know I want to avoid those tastes?  Because I tried them, didn’t like them, and I’ve got a mental note about that which helps me to avoid unpleasant culinary situations in the future.  Easy.  Wine is no different.

    If it helps, follow a system (I’ve outlined a simple one in my eBook).

  3. wkuedu-brain_dumpCome with an open mind.
    Here’s a question for you: would you eat only one thing every day for the rest of your life, if you had any choice in the matter? Would you eat nothing but steak?  Or wear only red clothing, forever, until you died?

    Probably not.  But if you limit yourself to drinking only one kind of wine (say, for example, oak-ladden and buttery Chardonnays), you are basically doing the exact same thing. There is a dizzying array of wine varietals, regions, styles, brands, etc., to be had in today’s marketplace.  Don’t handcuff yourself by limiting the enjoyment and pleasure you could have – your motto here should be “try anything at least once.”

There you have it.

Wine Appreciation = Super Simple. No go out there and enjoy yourself!

Check out more 1WineDude.com articles on Learning Wine & Zen Wine Appreciation.

Cheers!

(images: doubleazone.com, warehouse.carlh.com, wku.edu)

The Art of Tasting Artfully: Taste Wine Like a Pro

Vinted on December 22, 2008 binned in commentary, wine appreciation, zen wine

I advise you to taste wine like a Pro – a Pro at living, that is.

I was reading a nice little article about the Art of Living, by lifehack.org’s Dustin Wax, and it struck me that two of Dustin’s guidelines (“Pay Attention” and “Be Appreciative“) are applicable to wine appreciation as well as being a useful as a general approach to living.

Too many people that I meet either a) don’t give a sh*t about how to taste wine (i.e., they guzzle it) or b) are petrified that they are tasting wine the “wrong” way.

Neither approach will give you much true enjoyment when it comes to tasting wine.

These approaches both misuse the mechanics of wine tasting. You know the ones I’m talking about – Look, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Spit – they’re available all over the ‘net.

The mechanics are important, but they will no more help you to taste artfully than knowing how to hold a paintbrush will teach you how to express yourself through painting.

Really tasting wine is a bit of an art that is built upon the fundamentals of those mechanics. And it’s really no more difficult to taste artfully than it is to live artfully. The art of tasting really does come down to tasting with Attention and Gratitude.

  • Attention is simply being mindful of the wine in the glass. Every wine, even total plonk, is trying to tell you something. You need only “listen” to it, giving it as much natural concentration and focus as you can (even if this is only a few good seconds of real concentration). Connect with that glass of wine. Merge with it, give it a moment where it’s just the two of you in all the universe.

  • Gratitude is just that – be grateful for the moment you have with that wine. If it helps, tell it “thank you” (I’m not kidding). If you thank everything in your day to day life (even red lights!), you will be amazed at how your outlook starts to shift.

Attention & Gratitude – two great tastes that taste great together, at least when it comes to tasting wine. Try them out, and put a little art into your next wine & cheese party this holiday.

Cheers!
(images: flickr.com: jimmy-joe, cryptography.org )

Related 1WD articles you might enjoy:

Zen, Spider-Man, and the Miracle of Wine

Vinted on December 1, 2008 binned in zen wine

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

“Nice title… wonder how he’s going to get himself out of this one?”

Trust me, it’s all gonna make sense in a minute or two. I think.

See, it all started with Thanksgiving last week.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Not off to a good start there, chico. Mind if I call you chico?”

Not at all. Anyway, Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for us to stop and – duh – give thanks for that in our lives for which we are most grateful. Now, wine has been very, very good to me and it got me thinking about how grateful I am to have wine in my life. And it got me thinking about Spider-Man. And miracles.

Let’s start with the miracles…

The Miracles
The Universe is an unimaginably big place – conventional wisdom is that the observable Universe is at least 10 billion light years in radius, and is probably much bigger. How big is that? Our entire solar system is 42,700,000,000,000 times smaller than the universe.

And, it’s really, really old. Like, at least 12 billion years old. How old is that? If you mapped out the history of the Universe into 1 Earth year, all of recorded human history would occupy approximately the last 13 seconds of that year.

Note that none of this either supports or excludes the possibility that the Universe is in some way intelligent. I say this because the cosmological parameters needed to eventually support life in the Universe were, to the best of our collective knowledge, set at the instant of the Big Bang. As we understand it today, the precision needed within those parameters (and their subsequent margin of error) to support life is so small that the odds against it happening are simply huge.

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Throw in the fact that the matter created in the Big Bang eventually combined in some way to create YOU, and you have even greater odds against you even being here to read this blog post.

The fact that you exist at all is a cosmological miracle on a grand scale.

It sure doesn’t look that way when you analyze the odds from, say, the point of your grandparents – or even the point of Homo Sapiens – first hitting the Universal timeline. But when you look at the broader context, that of the history of the Universe, well you have to admit that if you’d been around in a parallel Universe during our Big Bang there’s no way you’d have put any money down on it working out.

Yet work out it did.

How even more miraculous that we came to invent wine, and that a glass wine has come to be in front of you at any given moment.

Which brings us to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man
All of this Zen Wine musing had me recalling a Spider-Man comic (geek alert!!) I read many moons ago, in which Spider-Man has defeated an enemy in Peru (long story… just go with it). After his battle he meets up with a sort of shaman/mystic, who at one point tells him (and I’m paraphrasing here): “You can say that the Sun will rise tomorrow because of the rotation of the Earth, the orbit of the planet and the Sun and the solar system’s movement through the Universe. I say the Sun will rise tomorrow because it is destined to do so. Do you see a conflict?”

Spidey’s response: “I don’t at that.”

You can say that I will come to enjoy my next wine because of chaos theory, benevolent divine intervention, or the destiny of the entire Universe.

I don’t see a conflict between any of those.

All I see is a miracle, and man, I’m really, really grateful for it. See, told you it would all make sense! Sort of.

Cheers!
(images: photobucket.com)

The Last Glass of Wine You May Ever Drink (Zen Wine Appreciation)

Vinted on August 6, 2008 binned in wine appreciation, zen wine

This past week, I finally got around to watching Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.”

For the 7 or 8 of you that have yet to see this (I’ve got a 4-month-old at the house… what’s your excuse?), the video of the Pausch’s inspirational lecture has been viewed by an estimated 6 million+ people. Pausch’s topic was fulfilling your childhood dreams, made more poignant and powerful by the fact that a) he had fulfilled most of his childhood dreams, and b) he was diagnosed with terminal cancer before giving the lecture.

Pausch died last month, at the age of 47. His lecture is amazing, and it got me thinking: if I were to deliver a lecture, knowing it to be my last before I died, what would I talk about? Then I thought about it another way: Why should my last lecture be special? Why can’t all my lectures be special? Why can’t I just live as if every day, and every event, were my last?

Then I wouldn’t have to do anything differently than I would on any other day. I’d rather have someone be able to show a video of any random moment of me spending time with my daughter, and that be a snapshot of the totality of me as a person, then have to worry about topping myself for some reason before I head off to the great gig in the sky.

In other words, I’d like to have my life be the testament to, well, my life.

What the hell does this have to do with wine? Glad you asked! Assuming you’re still reading, that is. You are? Great! Then allow me to explain…

I’ve written before about the role of mindfulness in heightening your wine appreciation. Basically, give a wine a moment or two of your pure, unadulterated concentration, and it will reveal its entire world to you.

Now, imagine if you treated every glass of wine that you have from here on out as if it might be your last glass. Man, you’d really give it some concentration then.

Sip on that for a while – you might find it brings a greater appreciation of wine into your life.

Even if it’s a glass of Yellowtail.

Check out more ‘Zen Wine’ non-action by the 1WineDude.

Cheers!
(images: rosalynclare.files.wordpress.com, zen-life.org)

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