I didn't have a glass of wine until I was 30. Well, maybe I did, but it was probably bad wedding wine that I choked down because it was the only option. But over the last decade, I have grown to love wine. Really love it. Not only do I love wine, but I love the community of wine. Let me explain.
My wine journey probably started with me visiting Total Wine and More on the weekends to taste whatever they had at the tasting bar. Then I took a few beginner classes there that exposed me to different wine regions around the world. If you have a thirst for knowledge, these wine folks will take you under their wing. I would go into the store every Saturday and discuss the latest tastings with whoever was working that day. It became a little ritual for me. When you love wine, there is a bond with others who love wine. It's a club; a cult of sorts. Why would anyone want to start a winery these days? It takes years to plant, have the grapes start producing, bottling, cellaring, etc. In most cases, it's a financially perilous situation. People do it because they absolutely love it. They say, "To make a small fortune in wine, you need to start with a big fortune." It's a crazy love affair, but one that stirs the heart and the soul.
Like many sommeliers these days, I saw the documentary "SOMM" and it piqued my interest. What these four men were trying to do was RIDICULOUS. Of course I thought I'd never be able to pick out a Barolo blind from a flight of red wines, but maybe it would be fun to try. I started by taking the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2 certification at a local wine store. I thought that one certification should be enough, but after a few months, I got the itch to take level 3. I met people in class who were as crazy about wine as I was. These were my people. The people that never drink a sip of wine without smelling it. The people that obsess over making sure they are drinking their wines at the proper temperature. The people that always decant the wines so that they maximize the pleasure you get from that bottle.
I hadn't been back to Total Wine & More in awhile, so I stopped in yesterday and popped into the tasting bar. One of the wines being poured was a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the woman pouring mentioned she was leaving for Italy soon. That opened the floodgates. We started sharing stories about past trips to Italy, the food, the wines, the people; all of it. In that moment, I was reliving my last trip in my mind and I could see the excitement in her face. I think I have her convinced that she needs to visit Barolo. I spent this morning concocting a lengthy email about spots to visit in the little Piemonte town, and what not to miss. That's why I love wine. The community of wine is real; and it's SPECTACULAR.