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Wine’s Oops Moments

October 22, 2013 14 comments

MWWC_logoThe Monthly Wine Writing Challenge started about four month ago with the goal to take the wine bloggers to the “next level” – one single word sets the theme, and all the willing wine bloggers create their best interpretation of the theme and its connection with the world of wine. In those four month the challenge themes went from “Transportation” to “Trouble”, then to “Possession”, and now to the current theme “Oops“, as set by the winner of the previous round, The Wine Kat.

Opps. What is the first thing which comes to mind when you here that short, but extremely universal expression? I don’t know about you, but somehow the first association for me was the song. I know I can’t compete with Food and Wine Hedonist when it comes to the hedonistic references to the popular culture, but in any case, Britney Spears “Oops, I did it again” was the very first thing which came to mind when I read the new theme, so here it is:

Yep, this video has nothing to do with wine, so let’s try to find our track here.

Life is generally filled with “oops” moments. Some can be funny, some can be sad. Some can be innocent, and some can be deadly, like missing the stop sign at a busy four-way intersection. The worst part of the oops moments is that they keep happening over and over, as we forget to learn from the previous ones. Technically, you are not supposed to step on the same rake twice, nevertheless, we like doing it over and over again.

Wine world is particularly prone to the oops moments. Problem is that you try one wine, and you think that you know them all. While there are so many factors affecting the taste of wine at a given moment – you mood, food, surroundings, company, price, label, your friend’s opinion, how long the bottle was open, is it at the optimal temperature… had enough? Nevertheless, it is enough to have one Chardonnay from Napa Valley not to our liking, where we will immediately generalize and come to the conclusion – okay, I’m not drinking Napa Chardonnay, just period – I had one, I know them all. That alone is a great source of the oops moments. But that is not all. Additionally, we are often not shy at all to state our opinion, as people think they have to have an opinion about wine, and it should be expressed, loud and clear – “yes, of course, they only make cheap wine in Australia”, “yes, I already had the Bordeaux once – it is a complete crap”.  Often, it seems that wine simply breeds arrogance and snobbery – which leads to the multiple embarrassing oops moments.

Overcoming this tendency is actually a hard work, and we really need to keep the focus to stay humble and thoughtful around wine – for our own good.

Let me give you an example of couple of my own profound, embarrassing oops moments. About 6 years ago, I visited Ridge winery in California in Santa Cruz region. Ridge had being making wines since 1962, and has somewhat of the cult following, especially for their Monte Bello Cab. I visited the winery with the friend, and we were also on the mission to find a good bottle (at the reasonable price) to bring it that same evening for dinner at another friend’s house. So we tasted through the full line of wines, and we didn’t like a single one of them. I don’t know what could’ve caused that – may be it was a Root day for me, may be I was just in the wrong mood for the tasting, may be something else. But the important thing is that based on that tasting, I made a strong conclusion for myself – Ridge doesn’t make good wines, it is all marketing fluff. Then about 3 years ago, I saw a tweet from Jancis Robinson, where she mentioned that she is working on the line of classic wineries for a big tasting, and she is including Ridge as one of the exemplary wineries in US. Here comes me, who already tasted Ridge once, and therefore I’m an expert on the subject, with the comment that I don’t understand why is she even mentioning it, as I was at the winery and didn’t like any of their wines. Jancis responds to my comment that she disagrees, and Ridge shows perfect sense of place. Next thing someone sees my comment and gets very upset as it is impossible not to like Ridge, and if I don’t like it, I have to be blocked (I even wrote the post about it). Well, no, we didn’t get to the oops moment yet.

Then, about 8 month later, I was again in the close proximity of Ridge, and decided to give it another try. I don’t know what was different that time – may be a cheerful girl who was pouring the wine, a different weather, a flower or fruit day – don’t know, but… I not only liked the wine, I loved each and every wine I tasted (here is my post about the experience). Now, here you have a classic oops moment. I wish I could’ve kept quite in that twitter dialog with Jancis, I really wish I would’ve kept my opinion to myself – but no, I had to show my expertise – and eat my embarrassment thereafter.

In the spirit of “oops, I did it again”, I need to give you another example, this one is a very recent one. You see, I like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – fresh grapefruit, lemongrass, vivid acidity – very nice wine in general. I know that you can buy the majority of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the range of $10 to $16, and they will be very good wines for the most of the cases. And then there is Cloudy Bay – a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which typically costs $26 or more. In my mind, the picture is clear – what can be so different about Cloudy Bay compare to any SB which is $10 to $16 cheaper – I had the others, I’m sure it can’t taste any differently (smart and not arrogant at all, right?). Then I see a blog post by Stefano, where he speaks very highly about Cloudy Bay, and the little genius inside gets me to make a comment that Cloudy Bay can’t be so much better and different to warrant paying that much more money for the bottle.

And then I come to the trade tasting, and see the Cloudy Bay being poured. I take the first sip, and it becomes my instant “oops” and “oh sh!t” moment, as the wine is stunningly beautiful, and of course I will be glad to pay more money for it – as it is really different from the mainstream.

There you have it my friends. The oops moments are unpleasant, and they will hunt you down – it really worth an effort to avoid at least the repetitions. Stay open, stay humble and keep learning – the wine world is yours to enjoy. Cheers!

P.S. If you got your own glorious “oops” moment and you are willing to share – this is what the comments section is for…

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