n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 23 Who knew that “Chardonnay” and “Cabernet Sauvignon” were the names of grapes? I didn’t. I probably would have found it odd that grapes have such fancy names, and been amazed to learn that there are literally thousands of different types of grapes all over the world with elaborate monikers like Mourvedre, Zibbibo, and Viognier. Such information never entered my radar. I found wine vaguely intimidating. I couldn’t taste “fresh strawberries” or “tar” or “baking spices.” I could taste wine. It seemed obvious that a bunch of pretentious “experts” were simply pulling fanciful tasting notes out of a hat. Wasn’t it all just elevated fiction? Sommeliers terrified me. The wine list in a restaurant was to be feared. People who claimed to know about wine arrogantly tossed around words like “tannins,” “legs,” and “acidity.” They could speak at length about a certain “earthiness” they perceived in their glass and argue with others about “minerality.” It was like they were speaking Greek. European wine bottles were extremely confusing. I stayed away from them even though I speak a few European languages. Wine from Englishspeaking countries seemed safer. French bottles often don’t say the name of the grape, so if you don’t know what’s produced in specific regions of France, you will not know what kind of wine is in the bottle you are holding. I could read all of the information on a French label and still not have a clue about what was inside. The world of wine was some sort of exclusive party and I was obviously not invited. I never gave it a second thought until my “aha!” moment.
Alive November 2016
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