If I have said this once I’ve said it a thousand times, “the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.” Simply put, the better questions you ask, the better your life will be!
This is true for wine too. The better questions you ask of your wine, the better your wine experience will be. I’m thankful to Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator Magazine for bringing this to my attention.
Most of us ask only one question of our wine: does it taste good? Matt refers to this as the Hedonistic group. I call this group the “unplug and glug gang” of which I was a card carrying member. Now I know there’s more, much more, to the enjoyment of wine.
Let the interrogation begin!
1) Does the wine have Character?
-Let’s face it, if the wine doesn’t taste good the interview is over. Pour it into the sink, pass the diet Coke! If the first reaction “ah so what” then the wine probably lacks character, it’s a commodity. On the other hand, if you get a sensation of “wow, did you taste the …, ooh I love the nose, man I’ll get another bottle of this,” then you have a wine with Character.
2) Is the wine Unique?
-This is a hard question to ask, especially if you’re a novice. I’ve only been drinking wine seriously for a year, but even I have noticed some wines are unique. For example: Clancy’s is like nothing I’ve ever had before, Boggel Essential red is very different, and Bruenello Di Montalcino may be the best wine in the world. For me, these distinctive wines answered the question in the affirmative.
3) Is the wine a “knockoff?”
-It’s a fact of the industry that wine makers like to copy styles. This is a hard question even for Robert Parker; as a reviewer if he likes big “fruit bomb” wines, wine makers make more fruit bomb wines. Look at the Cabernet Sauvignon section at you wine store. How big is it? Now ask yourself, are they all unique or do you think someone had grape envy and tried to copy “the leader”. Modern wine making technology makes this fairly easy, that’s why Question #1 is so important. If you have a nagging sense you’ve had this wine before, then you’re probably on to something. Look for the original.
4) Does the wine offer insight?
-Do you find yourself saying, “I had no idea a taste could come from nature like this,” remember, you’re drinking earth, water, sunshine and time. If you get that feeling, turn in your unplug and glug card, you’ve graduated! A wine that can tell you something about the mysteries of nature the French call “terroir,” and it’s an experience like no other. This is why I love drinking wine. Asking a wine to give you insight is the highest demand you can make. A great wine will answer you.
5) Does the wine evolve?
-Strange question I know but wine does evolve. Ever open a bottle one day and finish it the next? My experience has been that the wine in, most cases, tastes better the second day, it has evolved! The cliché goes, “wine gets better with age,” and as I always say the older I get, the better I like it!
6) Do I want more of this wine?
-If your wine meets all of the above requirements, then most likely the answer will be yes.
7) Was the wine worth the money I paid for it?
-I told my son that, as I have come to appreciate more and more about wine, it’s hard to determine whether it’s worth the extra money to get a pricey great bottle of wine when there are so many very good bottles at a reasonable price. If you bought a wine that has character, was unique, wasn’t a knockoff, offered insight, evolved with time, and left you wanting more, then obviously I’d say yes it was worth it. That being said I have felt at times like I had over paid for the experience, while other times I felt like I should have waited, saved my money, and bought a better wine.
Drinking wine has become one of the great pleasures of my life. Reading about wine, and experimenting with food parings and tasting wine groups add a great deal of joy to me. I only have so many sips left; I want them to be memorable, and to be shared with people I love.