Friday, January 07, 2005

How It All Started

It was 1979 and I was putting my time in at a hospital laboratory as a medical technologist. Someone brought in a magazine subtitled “The magazine for physicians at leisure.” On my breaks I would page through it because it had some really nice photos of far away places in gorgeous spots of the world. In one issue there was a feature titled, “The Ten Best Wines in America for under $10.”

Wine had intrigued me yet my exposure to the fruit of the vine had pretty much been relegated to the annual Thanksgiving sip my parents would serve of—sit down—Mogen- David wine. Even as a kid, I thought it had more in common with cough syrup than a drinkable beverage. That exposure is probably why I was much more a Guinness Stout kind of guy if anything at all.

Still, the mythical stories of the guy who could sit down with a glass of fermented grape juice in front of him and tell you the place it was made, the year it was made and the particular type of grape or grapes fascinated me. So, “What made a good wine, a good wine?”

Even I could afford a $10 bottle of wine every now and then so if the ones in the magazine represented the best in the country, I wanted to know what they tasted like and began to hunt down everyone I could. That was it; I was hooked. I joined a wine club called “Les Amis Du Vin” which means “Friends of the Vine” which entitled me to the wine of the month at a local dealer which meant I could get one bottle of the month’s selection for half price. That was the beginning of a lifetime pursuit of what has been an absolutely inexhaustible quest to understand wine. Do not misunderstand though, I am NOT a connoisseur but I do know a good wine from a mediocre wine from a bad wine. And I know a great value when I find one which these days abound! Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile are producing wines not by the hundreds or thousands of cases but by the hundreds of thousands of cases. With that kind of volume, phenomenal bargains are all over the place!

So if you are serious about pursuing wine beyond a bottle here and there, you have to subscribe to the Wine Spectator magazine. It will cost you $45 a year but is worth every penny. And will save you ten times that in a year by helping you to avoid over-priced and over-hyped wines. Their rating system is irrespective of a wine’s cost so when you see a wine that rates an 88 out of 100 scale and it costs $8 and then another wine that rates an 86 which cost $55; the savings are obvious. Til next time--

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