On My Wine Journey

dscn2896Growing up in an Italian family, my wine journey started during my youth with wine added to 7Up. Although I would continue to drink wine when available, it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that my real journey began.

We vacationed in San Francisco for a week in 1997. We took one day to rent a car for going to Napa Valley. On that single day I quickly identified that the world of wine had much to offer; hence the beginning of the journey.

After hearing about our trip, several friends told me about wine-of-the-month clubs at several wine stores, but I knew I wasn’t ready for that. I started at my local grocery store buying wines in the $6-7 category. By trying different reds I started detected the differences and identifying my pallet preferences.

Then I jumped up to $8-10 bottles, and wow … as a whole, these were better; but all along trying different varietals and makers. After a year, I knew I was ready to try a wine club.

One bottle a month of a red wine and a white wine selected by the owner. After 4 months, I knew red wine was to be my focus, thus cancelled my white wine order. I was still taken by the differences in the varietals, the regions, and the winemaker’s style. And yes … the moving into the $12-18 range provided another step up in quality.

We discovered a local wine store that offered wine tastings every Friday and Saturday night. These were more classroom-like, not a walk-up, taste, pay, and leave style. I listened and participated and my knowledge grew; as did my appreciation for these fruits of the vine.

I recall watching a TV show about wine hosted by then-ABC weatherman Spencer Christian. Awesome! I’ve gone through periods of subscribing to magazines as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast for more knowledge, tips, and wine selections.

Today, the wine store with the weekly tastings has closed, and most stores don’t use the more education-oriented style tasting. But we found one that fits my needs.

Because I have always been willing to try different wines, I’ve had a chance to experience many. Although not every wine I’ve purchased has been a must-have-again type, I’ve never bought a bottle that I haven’t been about to finish. I’m unquestionably not afraid to buy something new. My sense of exploration is abnormal because the majority of wine buyers don’t venture out of their comfort zone.

I’ve returned to Napa and Sonoma several times, each time with a willing-to-try mantra. Sometimes saying, “If we’ve heard of them, don’t stop.” Last fall we took a wine cruise on Celebrity.  This summer we are considering Paso Robles and vicinity.

All because of that one-day trip and my willingness to try different wines, I’ve had a wonderful wine journey; and a lot of fun.