I wanted to take a bit more of a personal direction with this post, and regale you with how I became addicted to wine. At 29 years old, my serious wine adventure started pretty recently, within the last 4 years. I met my fiancee, Scot, co-writer with me on Vinespiration, and it literally took off from there. The feature image FYI is from my very first wine tasting, and I had literally no clue what to do!
Lets do some fancy time travel;
I remember very clearly being 18 years old, at University in Manchester studying for my bachelors in Classical history (we all know how them Greeks and Romans loved thier wine) and living off Blossom Hill rose. I also remember being able to very smugly inform people that the White Zinfandel was my favourite because it tasted more like raspberry and watermelon than the White Grenache which I professed to anyone who would listen was all about the strawberries and cream. I am not claiming that at that point in my life I had any knowledge of wine, probably just label reading, but it did make me realise that I prefer the raspberry notes in my rose and not strawberry.
I was at my sweet wine stage, the first steps in most peoples wine journey. The high sugar makes it more pallatable, while still giving you the cool demenaour of liking wine. Sweet Rose has its uses and as I look back on this time, I suppose without it I am not sure I would be drinking wine. I recently had some family come to stay with me, not massive wine drinkers by any means, they too happen to love the sweeter wines. It is, I have come to believe, a great stepping stone into the wine world.
Fast forward about 3 years, I have graduated and moved back home, and my family is very much in love with a Tarrango from Australia by the Brown Brothers. It could also be because they shared the same last name as and we felt a famililal connection but not likely. This wine was a red wine, best enjoyed slightly chilled and was super light. Similar in profile to a Beaujoulais I suppose. Tarrango is a cross breed (Touriga Nacoinal and Sultana), made to be acidic and balanced without the tannins. Another good entry level wine, again slightly sweet, and now im feeling very grown up as I have advanced to red wine.
However, that 1 step forward was soon a lot of steps backwards*, I disliked red wine, I wouldnt touch it. Declaring all reds to be like licking a horse saddle, and drinking petrol. At 22, I did not have any appreciation for red wine, but my white wine drinking had expanded to include Pinot Grigio. Im feeling very into wine at this point! Little did I know that I was meerly at the tip of the tip of a wine-berg.
At this point, my parents have decided to open up a deli, selling cheese, biscuits, expensive tea and English Wine. A new opportunity. I found myself very quickly drawn to a Chapel Down English Sparkling, and think I might have died and gone to heaven. I had not previously had much experience with sparkling wine, the odd prosecco and champagne on Christmas type thing. I was astounded, and now furiously flying my flag for anything English. I moved on to thier Bacchus white, with its sharp acidity and mineral notes, and felt my pallate begin to get excited. Are we moving away from sweet White Zin it asked quietly? Yes, yes we are. Still no red wine, but for now I am exploring all white and rose avenues. Sauvingnon Blanc, Chardonnay, and the odd Sancerre make thier way into my life.
Red wine is still for cooking to me at this point. I continue on this path towards white wine for some years. At the age of 26 I move away from home and deposit myself in the Netherlands. This is when I meet Scot, although it will take another 2 years before we will be together. I am still heavilly drinking only whites and roses, and have discovered Gruner Veltliner and Cava. I am also drinking rose on the regs, with 2 friends from work, and we invent Wine Wednesday (it does not cross my mind that this is actually a thing, and we just think we are being clever).
Moving on to the ripe old age of 28 and the beginnings of my relationship with Scot. Scot it appears has been serious about wine long before I came along. His brother is a pretty serious and well known wine maker down in South Africa so I feel like I am in good hands. He makes me dinner one evening, 3 delicious courses each with a wine to match. He brings out my nemisis for the second course, a red wine! It is an Ego Bodegas Goru El Tinto, Spanish red. Deep, dark and serious, from the monastrell grape, with a touch of Syrah and petit verdot. It is spicy and herbaceous and a touch overwhelming next to my white wines. I am feeling the need to be uber poilte, and drink it and I am plesently suprised. Scot indulges my habit for white wine for the first few months of our relationship, but winter is coming. He assures me that I can learn to like red wine, and we start with the training wheels. Dornfelder and Pinot Noir, light and almost refreshing in character. By the time the snow is falling, we have had some Cinsault, Malbec, Old Vine Zinfandel and numerous others. I am falling in love with reds, and suprising even myself. Sure, there are some that are high in tannins and very acidic, but ther are others that can be smokey, fruity and earthy and some that are light and juicy. My mind is being blown at this point.
It is also Scot who introduced me to natural wine, raw, unfiltered and rough around the edges. It was a Silvervis Chenin Blanc from South Africa, and it smelled like sweaty socks and wet hay at first. This was not something that immediatly appealed to my senses, but I pushed through, not wanting to dissapoint him. It has taken a few tries, but I am slowly getting the hang of natural wine. Although it is not really until the present day that we really develop a love affair with this style and learn to appreciate its sometimes musty aromas.
In 2016 we take our first trip to Champagne, and develop an insatiable thirst for these delicious fine bubbles, and make it a personal challenge to taste as many different sparkling wines as we can from around the world. We order a case from Nyetimber, bring back 6 bottles of MCC from South Africa, visit Barcelona to try Cava, and always pick up new bottles when it excites us. We are now travelling specifically for wine, having been to Australia, Greece, South Africa, Spain and France to name a few. There are plently more destinations to visit.
We started our blog in late 2017, followed by our facebook page and now our instagram site this year. Wine keeps us going, and we are always shopping around for cool bottles, individual grape varities and collectors items. I have developed more in the last 3 years as a wine drinker than I ever expected. We now plan to take the WSET course after we are married to feed our hobby and learn more. I am developing my pallate, learning what I like and dont like. There is tons more wine to be tried, and my advice is no to be scared to try something new. I tried red wine, and now cant get enough Chateauneuf du Pape, Syrah, GSM blends and Pinot Noir! My real favourite is champagne, also any good sparkling wine, I’m pretty sure its my blood type now.
Adventure is out there! And there is plenty of wine to be had along the way.
*Disclaimer: Despite disliking red wine, I am a huge lover of mulled wine! Hot, sweet, spicy fragrant red wine! Whats not to love.