I’ve spent the better part of the first half of the year learning about… finance.
That is, now that wine is my “job,” (it feels really cool to type that) I needed another outlet, something about which I’d been passionate and wanted to learn more, to idle away the time learning during the down time (not that there’s much of it) when I’m traveling, or unwinding during the several seconds it takes me to fall asleep at night after chasing around my five year old daughter for the better of the day.
You know… a hobby.
Because I’m a geek (and for other reasons that I might get into here at a later date), I chose Finance. It’s amazing how deep the financial rabbit-hole goes, how much of it is related to human psychology, and the volume of parallels I’ve found in, for example, the world of investing with the world of wine media and wine scores.
During my drinking-from-the-Financial-knowledge-firehouse, I encountered this thread on the BogleHeads.org forum, titled What do you wish you had learned sooner?
It’s an amazing little forum thread, full of life, savings, and investment lessons gleaned from the cruelly sharp-focused prism of the kind of hindsight that can only come from mistake-making, coupled with the heat-induced etching into one’s memory that is the hallmark of losing one’s money to a stupid idea. I became somewhat fascinated by that thread, and it “bleeds yellow,” as in yellow highlighter, the kind of thing that you read and want to highlight because there’s so much to learn form it that it can only really be digested in chunks.
And it got me thinking, what did I wish I’d learned about wine sooner?…
There are so many potential answers to that questions, I’m not even sure where to start. But I’m fascinated as to what YOUR answer to that question would be. I’m not saying there’s a perfect way, or that mistakes don’t lead to knowledge or enlightenment on the topic of wine (far from it – and the homework is awesome, because it involves drinking). But we all wish we’d wasted less time checking out the tacky tourist traps and more time enjoying the stellar view and humanistic stories during our journeys into wine’s deep forest territories, right?
For me, it’s a tough call but if I had to promote one thing to the number one slot, it would be that when it comes to enjoying the my personal tastes trumps every iota of wine recommendation advice available from any critic, pro, or expert. Period.
Many, many, many moons ago, I once spent an entire day driving around PA state wine stores (already an exercise in wasted time if ever there was one) with a copy of Wine Spectator’s top 100 list (already this is getting embarrassing, and we’re still in the first compound sentence of this paragraph), from the first, last and only issue of Wine Spectator I’ve ever purchased, trying to find any of the high-scoring wines on the list.
What a colossal waste of some of my short time on this planet.
Not because those wines might suck (they probably didn’t), not because I shouldn’t have purchase some of them (not that the PLCB stores would have had any of them in stock anyway), and not because the wines would have been overpriced even if I’d found them (some would have, but not all of them).
No, it was a total waste of time because I lacked any context on the wines whatsoever. Really, the blurbs in WS about the wines didn’t tell the story of those wines. They numbers next to each of those wines didn’t tell me whether or not I’d like them, or if their styles, approaches, flavors and aromas would suit my personal tastes.
I wish I’d just trusted myself, and my tried-and-true method of deeply learning about anything (gaining experience, supplementing with book learning, relying on my judgment, and moving at a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race tortoise pace) instead of trying to use some short-cut.
How about YOU? What do you wish you’d learned about wine sooner?