This wine advice isn’t about varietal, appellations or even price. It’s about appreciating wine, which is what matters
The best wine advice I’ve gotten in more than two decades of wine writing had nothing to do with varietals, appellations, or even price. It was about understanding and appreciating wine — something too many of us overlook in our haste to find deals, impress others, or chase scores.
Because if we don’t appreciate what we’re drinking, what’s the point?
Hence, three pieces of wine advice, from some of the smartest people I’ve met in the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this:
• “Wine always changes. That’s the point. If it didn’t change, everything would always taste the same,” said the late and much missed Diane Teitelbaum. Many of us are annoyed and frustrated, even in this age of better wine through chemistry, when a wine doesn’t taste identical every vintage. I complained about this when I was a new wine writer, and Diane gave me one of her looks. One of the joys of wine, she said, is that it does change, and that you can learn to appreciate the differences.
• “If you don’t like chocolate ice cream, and someone told you to east chocolate ice cream, would you? Of course not. So why do that with wine?” said Josh Wesson, one of the smartest retailers I ever met. This came early in my career, too, during the 1990s heyday of scores. That’s when too many people bought on points, regardless of what kind of wine got the points.. Wesson was spot on: If a big, heavy red got 93 points, but you don’t like big heavy reds, why buy it because it got 93 points?
• “The minute you think you know everything about wine, you’ve lost what wine is all about. You can never know everything, and you’re missing the point if you think you can.” This is from the legendary importer and distributor Martin Sinkoff, also when I was starting out. And, in the past 2 ½ decades, it may have been the best advice Ive ever received. How many of us have met someone who knows everything about wine, and who is the first to tell us so? And how little do those people really know? And how little do they appreciate wine?