"In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary."
-- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Somewhere in my recent travels around the food blogosphere, these words from Ernest Hemingway came up. It has to have been quoted countless times all over the Internet, particularly on food and wine blogs, but I'm quoting it again because... well, just because. I can't explain in words how it affected me, but it did. I was taken. These two sentences, not even a full paragraph, just fifty-one words, perfectly describe how I feel about wine.
I enjoy wine by drinking it.
I am not a connoisseur; my appreciation is simple. White is preferable to red, even if I’m tearing into a big beefy steak. I like light in both color and weight, and fruity in flavor. If I were forced to choose between super sweet and dramatically dry, I’d pick the sweet on the outside, but I’d be thinking “better for dessert” on the inside. I buy by sight and feeling and “how pretty” a bottle is much more than I should, but it always ends up being drinkable. When I go on a debaucherous excursion through Napa or Sonoma or the Santa Ynez valleys, I never spit it out. For God’s sake, I paid good money for that taste. :) If it tastes good, that’s good. If it tastes great, that’s even better. If it makes me *ew*, then it makes me *ew*, I don't care how much Silver you threw at that Oak.
It's not to say that I don't have all kinds of admiration and respect for the ones I very affectionately call “wine nerds.” The wine nerds are those who know a lot about wine. They also have certain skills associated with wine appreciation like identification of varietals and even vintages by blind-taste, or food-wine pairing. Some of the wine nerds are learnéd, others are naturally talented. Either way, they know wine, but they are neither know-it-alls nor name-droppers. We all know who the wine nerds are and we love them; and we know who the wine snobs are – there’s quite a difference, as the quote implies. And in most cases of wine nerdiness, like 99.9% of the time, they they also enjoy drinking wine. Wine nerds are badass and, hm...how should I say? The wine nerds are sexy as hell. Nothing is hotter than a person who is so passionate about something that it drives them just shy of insanity. That's hot.
As much as I drank in awe of the wine nerds, they still intimidated me (not the wine snobs though, I still continue to laugh at them). I still felt unrefined when all I could do was say "I like white," apologetic when I couldn't sense or "find" certain things in the glass, and stupid when I couldn't explain why I hate chardonnay. I just do. It tastes nasty.
However, the quote reminded me that I shouldn't need to apologize for the way I feel about wine. I don't have to apologize for my tastes. Of course, I want and love to learn about wine, but I doubt that I’ll ever reach the leagues of the wine nerds. I don't think it means I have any less passion about wine than someone who's memorized his or her tasting notes for every vintage of every wine made from every berry grown on every vineyard in an around the 38th parallel. My passion for wine is expressed differently. I don't have to be embarrassed by my palate and olfactory senses that can only distinguish between "fruity" and "flowery." I'm not saying it's okay to be stupid. It is most certainly not okay to be stupid, but I am not stupid. There's a difference. I hope. LOL!
So I don't want to feel incredibly ignorant for buying this bottle of Ironstone Vineyards 2004 Obsession almost completely blindly. We just did a study in wine marketing on the most recent Wine Blogging Wednesday, and Ironstone Vineyards had me at “Hello.” I noticed the bottle for its softly glittering gold label and simple statement, "Obsession." I picked up the bottle because I couldn’t figure out the varietal – symphony? The Wine Guy confirmed that yes, Symphony is a hybrid grape from California. I put the Obsession in my basket because it was under ten dollars.
What luck! The Obsession had been pretty in the bottle, and was just as pretty in the glass – pale, light, bright, and looked faintly like a green blown glass apple ornament hanging in a south-facing window. It sparkled with tiny tiny bubbles when I drank it, not quite as much as Champagne, but more than say, a Pinot Gris. I was surprised less by how more flowery rather than fruity it was, and more by the fact that I didn’t mind its perfume. If Obsession is a good representative of the grape, then Symphony is unexpectedly sweet, which I normally love, but found a little much for me before dinner. What a good excuse to continue drinking it all through dinner instead.
I have to make dinner, so I picked up garlic and cheese at the market. I have to drink wine so I picked up the Obsession. That’s all, nothing more.