My Brain Lacks Balance, Finish

spilling wine

I’ve always been a foodie. My father is proud to tell anyone who will listen that, as a baby, I wasn’t given traditional baby food. Instead, my parents would grind to a mash whatever they were having for supper, and that would be my meal. By six years old I was preparing my own food several times per week, and my favorite part of birthday celebrations was trying some sort of fancy new restaurant.

Not me

(Not me)

It could be that my father created a monster. As evidence, I can point to that time in junior high school when, as punishment for some now-forgotten crime, I had to stay home while everyone else went out to dinner. My father made me a ham sandwich on white bread and forbid me to to use the stove. Fair enough. Instead, I threw away the sandwich and reheated homemade frozen dumplings in the toaster oven. My daddy didn’t raise no fool.

Food has always been one of my greatest interests, comforts and pleasures. I can probably tell you about certain meals that would give other nights of primal satisfaction a run for the money. As such, I live to eat and to study the components that make a good dish great.

For me, wine (and certain creative spirits and cocktails, as well) is an extension of my love of food. Each vintage – like other types of spirit-sustaining sustenance – has a history, and that history informs the end result…even when it doesn’t live up to expectations – which, frankly, is one of the things that makes wine so exciting: There are never any guarantees of what you’re going to get. Wine is living, it’s dynamic. It changes. So do palates.

It is this last point that has been making me a little crazy these days.

I’ve gotten pretty serious about wine in the past year. In that time, I’ve gone from liking big, jammy fruit bombs to…liking big, jammy, fruit bombs – but feeling self-conscious about it. Conversations with a couple of super-cute sommeliers helped me begin to appreciate Old World wines for what they are, instead of simply writing them off as tasting like dusty old leather. Little by little, glass by glass – I’ve begun to really appreciate how a good wine will unfold over time, revealing more and more of itself like a patient and seductive siren, luring me to crash on the rocks of the really good stuff.

 2006 Antonio Caggiano Aglianico dell Irpinia Tari Campania

2006 Antonio Caggiano Aglianico dell Irpinia Tari Campania

Several dates with a hard-core wine geek introduced me to wines like Austrian St. Laurent, French Minervois, Italian Aglianico and a Romoritan/Menu Pineau blend whose very existence breaks wine-making law in France. One would think all of this exposure would be exciting, but now I’m even more confused – mainly because I’m not sure what I’m “supposed” to be teasing out, picking up and enjoying anymore; and with all of the new juice, I’m not even 100% sure I can tell the difference between the wines I know and the new ones that I don’t. Aside from the thrill of experiencing something new, I second-guess my dislike of the sharpness of the Aglianico, and I worry that because I found the Romoritan/Menu Pineau a little…meh…that maybe I lack sophistication, or that my foodie palate just isn’t as good at wine as I thought it was.

The more I learn, the more confusing it becomes. Descriptions like gooseberry, wet cat and tobacco leaf haunt me in my sleep and taunt me in tasting rooms. And while I might describe myself as a bit “nervy” and “racy,” I couldn’t begin to tell you what this means in terms of wine. I’ve also recently come to learn that there is a class of wine drinker that poo-poos those big, jammy, fruit bombs I love, specifically because they…have…flavor; there is even a Facebook page devoted to these “Anti-Flavor Wine Elites.” So wine isn’t supposed to have flavor? Wha? I certainly missed that chapter in my first Wine 101 lesson.

This is definitely a weird place to find myself. I’m not sure if I’ve started to overthink what I’m tasting – in the way I overthink practically everything else – and if this is one more thing to add to my list of nightly meditations. Or perhaps this is one of those transition times when I will come through with a more delicate palate and an expanded appreciation for all things edible. So I guess I’ll just keep drinking and trust that – like circumnavigating a white bread sandwich – eventually I’ll noodle my way into a far more appetizing, satisfying situation.

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes

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