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Experiences and Expectations

September 19, 2010 5 comments

So far I had being talking about wine and food in this blog. As this blog’s short description puts it, it is about “Wine, food and life”. Of course food and wine are definitely part of our daily lives, so the blog’s promise on “life” is fulfilled, more or less by itself. However, after I read a very interesting article sent to me by Kfir Pravda, it really stroke the chord, so here comes the blog post. A life prospective through the glass, if you will.

The article is called “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” (I really encourage everyone reading this blog to read the article – it definitely worth it). Money? Don’t worry – this blog is not changing into a financial publication. I don’t plan to give any financial advice, and I don’t know where the money tree is growing (if you know – can you please, please share with the rest of us?). The article itself is not talking about money or finances, it rather talks about happiness, and then looks at money as one of the popular means of achieving it (or not). Still don’t see a connection, with wine or with life? Just continue reading, please.

One of the first points of the article is “Buy experiences instead of things”. There is a great explanation on why it makes a lot of sense from point of view of achieving “happy” state and keeping it for longer. That concerns pretty much anything in life (two weeks trip through French country side will probably keep you happy much longer than having one tiny original French painting on your wall). Now, I hope you expect me to connect this to the wine. Quick question – can you experience Chateaux Margaux 2000 ($1000/bottle, try to find it), Vega Sicilia Unico 1968 ( about $1200/bottle, again good luck finding it), Krug Vintage 1996 ($300+, same good luck wish applies) and about hundred other wines, all without emptying your 401K ( like it’s not empty already)? If you said “yes”, you are correct. PJ Wine Grand Tasting in New York in the Fall of 2009 had all of those ( and many more) wines available for all the wine lovers. Ticket price  – $144 per person. Paraphrasing MasterCard commercials, having long-lasting memory of tasting freshly made  bread in the Krug or tremendous luscious layers of complexity in Chateaux Margaux – priceless.  Yes, it is great to have that special bottle of wine in your own cellar. Considering realities of life and cost of college education ( sorry, personal pain point), it is not easy to have all the wines you want in the cellar – however, you can always find a solution. Going after experience can bring a lot more long-lasting happiness, especially comparing with owning THAT bottle of wine and having regrets about money spent as the main feeling every time you think about it. Or at least that what I think – and I would love to hear your opinion.

Another key point of the article, “Buy many small pleasures instead of few big ones” also can be perfectly illustrated in the wine world. What would you rather have in your cellar? One bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia 2006 at about $160 to $200, or 4-5 bottles of Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006 at about $40? I chose the pair for the simple reason – tasted both a week ago, and with all due respect to Insignia, having more bottles of Ladera Cabernet will provide for quite a bit more happy occasions. But when it comes to wine, this is definitely a very important point – there is a lot of choices, and you can use your money wisely and “stretch the happiness” quite a bit simply by finding the right value wines which will bring you a lot of pleasure and happy memories.

Last point from the article I want to touch on is stated as “Pay now and consume later”. The point is simple. When you own things which you can enjoy later, you get a lot of happy feelings all the way until you actually get to use whatever it is. Who can attest to this better than wine lover, whether you own a cellar or keep your wines in the closet?  I’m not talking about collectible wines here, this is a category in its own. I’m talking about putting your wines aside and waiting for them to improve, or waiting for just the right moment to drink them. Just a thought about having particular wine in the future gives you a lot of pleasure, isn’t it? This is all which we are trying to achieve – to be in the happy state for longer, and I would say that wine lovers are the ultimate group which has almost an unfair advantage here – we can wait and be happy about it at the same time. I’m not sure that buying the new car and waiting for 3-4 years to drive it will put someone in the happy state of mind – but buying the few bottles of wine and giving it time to evolve is definitely great and pleasant experience.

As a conclusion, again, I would definitely encourage everyone to read the article – it really provides great analysis of our “state of happiness” and suggests a few tricks for achieving it. And while you will be reading this article, have a glass of wine – and experience happiness at the fullest. Cheers!

Is There Too Much Of A Good Thing?

September 14, 2010 2 comments

Assuming you like wine ( otherwise, I don’t think you would be reading this blog), what would you say of a prospect of trying many hundreds of wines in a day ( about 5 hours, to be precise)? I would think at first you would get excited, right. Now, let’s do some simple math – let’s say you will be tasting 500 wines, 1 oz each… will make it equal to 20 (!) bottles of wine. Don’t think that sounds appealing anymore? This is where the bucket with romantic name “spittoon” comes to the rescue (I’m sure many of you are appalled now – what, spit wines?! No way!) – but this is what the professionals have to do. So why is all this talk about professionals and wasted wine? Simply because that this past weekend, thanks to my friend Zak, an owner of Cost Less Wine and Liquors store in Stamford,  I was able to join him in the “trade-only” wine tasting events run by two of the Connecticut wine wholesalers, Wine Bow and World Wide Wines.

Believe it or not, tasting wines in such quantities is a hard work. Of course nobody tastes 50o wines in the row – spitting or not, but your palate gets really tired from tasting and tasting and tasting, and while I’m looking only for the fun component of such an event, people in the trade have to actually make business decisions – getting right wines for the store or a restaurant is a border line between success and failure. Luckily, this hard work is associated with pleasure, so enough of the sad picture – no need to take pity. Yes, it is a great opportunity to try an amazing variety of wines, a lot of them being simply great wines, and for me personally it was also an opportunity to make progress in the treble journey ( which I did), but I will report on this in the next post.

It is impossible ( and probably pointless) to write about all the great wines – but I would like to mention a few highlights. First, among the Cabernet Sauvignon, Neyers Ranch Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 and 2006 were simply outstanding, with pure Cabernet expression of black currant, chocolate and hint of eucalyptus, all beautifully balanced. Ladera Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Lone Canyon and Howell Mountain were all between excellent and outstanding – again, with beautiful and clean California Cabernet expression at its best. It is also worth mentioning that all of these wines are quite accessible with retail prices at $30 – $60 per bottle.  Few more personal highlights among the reds were Morgan Monterey Syrah 2007 (less than $20 retail), amazing 100% Syrah demonstrating all the “textbook” Syrah spicy qualities, and then couple of Zinfandels,  Bradford Mountain Dry Creek and Bradford Mountain “Grist” by C. Donatiello Winery, both from 2005.

There were a lot of great white wines, but I would like to mention only one, again as personal favorite – the wine called Eisrebe by Joseph Phelps. This is desert wine made from the grape called Scheurebe ( that was a nice surprise for my “treble journey”), and it is done in the style of the Ice wines, except that as there is no chance for the grapes in  California to naturally freeze at -8C, special cryogenic methods used to achieve “ice” wine result. The wine had an amazing balance of the white fruits, honey and ripe comice pears with refreshing acidity, so it was not overpowering the palate. Amazingly enough to me, this wine was also perfectly complementing wide variety of desserts, which is not very common from my experience.

All in all – it was a great fun, and I have to conclude that when it comes to the wine tasting, there can be no too much of a good thing (well, a “good thing” is an important hint here), and therefore I will gladly repeat it at any time.

Cheers!

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