Most people would agree that life itself is an adventure, and it’s natural for us to discover new experiences and sensations.
As a Sommelier, I often find that people can get stuck in a ‘wine rut.’ Let’s face it: wine can be intimidating to some, so when you find one you like, you stick with it.
However, with a never-ending selection from which to choose, drinking the same wine every time you imbibe seems shortsighted and unadventurous. After all, do you eat the same food every day? Have you had the same hairstyle your entire life? Do you spend your holiday in the same place every year? Probably not.
While repetition can have its own reward if you truly enjoy something, if you cultivate a sense of adventure toward wine, you’ll find that your pioneer spirit will, more often than not, pay off. After all, curiosity rewards sensation.
Here are three simple steps to discover a new wine and get yourself unstuck from a wine rut:
1. Use your Sommelier support system
Sommeliers exist for you! They spend their lives searching for new wines that will help create the best experiences for their guests. And trust me, they know something you don’t, and they want to share!
2. Know what you like and don’t like
You don’t need to understand all the technical, drawn-out wine jargon to know this, and I certainly hope you don’t encounter it when asking for help. Keep it simple — dry or sweet? Oaky or not? Fruity or earthy? A few answers from you will allow a Sommelier to know what questions to ask next. Don’t be intimidated. You know more than you think, and certainly enough to help anyone worth their weight in grapes to help you get the bottle rolling.
3. Be open and honest, and have fun
When I encounter someone who confesses they don’t know much about wine, I see it as an awesome opportunity to create an experience they never expected.
Many people are apprehensive when it comes to selecting wine. It can be an expensive venture — and here in British Columbia it is embarrassingly, devastatingly and unforgivably so — which is all the more reason to engage with your restaurant sommelier or a wine-savvy salesperson in a wine shop.
And if you’re conducting business or on a date, and are shy about bringing up the cost, try pointing to a few prices on the wine list to give us direction — Sommeliers can keep secrets with the best of them.
Never forget that wine knowledge enhances sensory perception. If you don’t have that knowledge, the person you’re buying the wine from will have enough for both of you.
Here are two off-the-beaten-path wines that will drink like they’re your new best friend:
Rilento Nerello Mascalese – $14.95
Grapes: Nerello Mascalese (mask-ah-lazy)
If you like pinot noir or Valpolicella, this is your next step. This wine is packed with “whiplash” factor. With a light-to-medium body, it’s lowdown and dirty, but with such a fresh, pretty demeanour. Think gangster in a ballet dress, or a leather corset with silky, spiced-red plum lace. Expect smoke, cedar, pepper and black cherry. It’s perfect for any tomato-based pasta sauce, or lighting the candles and reading Jane Austen in a bubble bath.
Bodegas Munoz ‘Artero’ Macabeo – $13.99
Grape: Macabeo (Mack-ah-bay-oh)
Region: La Mancha
This wine is like a summer picnic — full of sunshine, laughter and high-fives. I adore its versatility. Perfect for the beach, dinner table or hot tub. There’s no oak, has medium acidity, and is loaded with spring flowers, white peaches and a kiss of almond. As refreshing as drinking raindrops, it’s more Katy Perry than Macy Gray. It lands between pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. Jump in!