When it comes to wine, what you don’t know and can’t see can make a big difference – for better or worse.
Have you ever heard the backstory on the “Judgement of Paris” or seen the movie “Bottle Shock?” It’s an #EpicFail that runs wide and deep in the wine industry and ultimately landed Napa Valley on the map of wine experts and enthusiasts. Here are the Cliff notes: In 1976, a British wine merchant named Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting of French and Californian wines to make a point – French wines are superior. The expectation among experts was the tasting would be a no-contest win for the French. The results were of the contrary.
The legendary 1976 blind tasting awarded the best Cabernet to a 1973 bottle from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley, California. The winemakers from Napa were giddy – they had arrived; those from France – not so much (#denial). To prove it was or wasn’t a fluke, the dueling duo agreed to a similar tasting years later. You guessed it, Napa Valley won again and the rest is history. The takeaway? Much like the clothing industry, if you take away the pretense, remove the labels, and hide the price tags and the origins, the playing field is easily leveled in the wine industry and what you like, is just that. Your choice. Free and clear of influence.
As an enthusiast, not an expert, I don’t limit myself to a certain “type” of wine and in return I’ve experienced some incredible blends, enjoyed new grapes and old, and uncovered an appreciation for a really good (steel barrel) chardonnay – a varietal I thought best left for my grandma June to enjoy and Kendall Jackson to exploit.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have general preferences and a “go to” list of wines for a night at home, with friends or at a work event when a client hands me the list to pick for the table. (If you want the list, let me know!) But when the opportunity presents itself – say at a wine bar, a boutique wine shop hidden on a lake, or at a vineyard anywhere in the world – I make it a point to not let what I know get in the way of exploring brands and varietals I don’t.
Wine is an experience best shared with others. Don’t sell yourself short of discovering a great wine on both ends of the price spectrum, or deny a try because “pink” isn’t your drink. Embrace diversity. Take note of sleeper wines and random recommendations. Try a new region. Test a new blend.
I am a big Paso Robles fan and the last time I was there I heard New Jersey is making (good) wine. Who knew!?! Anything is possible. Explore your options and enjoy the experience of tasting wine with your eyes wide open or blind to the bottle. It’s fun either way!
Guest Post by Marie Meoli Rourke
Marie Meoli Rourke is a wine enthusiast, the founder of WhiteFox Marketing Inc., and a Secret Cellar Club Member.