Why you should be drinking wine…

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Where do I begin! To be truthful it really is hard to start, I mean when you love something so thoroughly, it can be difficult to grasp why others aren't so enthused, or why they are surprised when they are first exposed to your intense enthusiasm. So allow me to rephrase the title of this to, “Why I Drink So Much Wine”, this statement will be far easier for me to explain. 

First and most definitely foremost… It is delicious! Okay that is much to simple, so let us go a little further in to depth on the topic of delight. You see, wine is of course the simple blanket term for an unbelievably complex, and ever changing product that is produced in over 70 countries from countless different grape varietals and made in a plethora of different styles. What this creates, other than mass confusion and frustration by many studying and aspiring sommeliers, is the possibility for an absurd array of flavours, aromas, structures like sweetness, acidity and tannin differences, still, sparkling, effervescent, fortified (Port, Sherry) the list goes on and on and on. What this does for us the consumer is present the opportunity to explore a vast world of new experiences, and find new sensory pleasures or unexpected favourites along the way. What usually kills me is when I hear someone so “Oh I don't like wine”. This statement is more of a missed opportunity than a negative discovery in my eyes. Now I do not want to turn the whole world into wine lovers, but I do want to show as many people as possible that perhaps the greatest beverage ever created can not be summed up as “Wine”, and that while I certainly think that most peoples first encounter with wine is probably not all that positive - considering the equal amount of awful stuff that is made throughout the world is in large parts what ends up on the communal wine table at a party, I can completely understand not liking that wine, but my-oh-my is there so many more out there to try, and what better research is there than trying to find a tasty alcoholic beverage. So to conclude the point that wine is delicious, my main love for the pleasure I get from wine is that there are so many different renditions out there, it seems impossible that there is not a favourite for everyone. It is like the old saying goes, “Its not that the right one for you isn't out there, you just haven't found them yet”.

 

 

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The history!!! There is so much history! This one is a safety net for me when it comes to my studies. I am a bit of a history buff, and will admit that there are times when I am flying through content whether it is studying for an exam or researching for an event, tour or tasting that is coming up, it can get a bit dry. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT take that admittance for my ever being bored of wine, but lets be honest here, sometimes work can get drab, and when that happens, I usually dive into some wine history books and it gets me right back to where I need to be. Through the years, and when I say through the years I mean a few thousand, there has been certain regions affected by catastrophe more than others, and in somewhat recent times, I can't think of one that has been hit any harder than the ultra recognizable and highly celebrated region of Champagne. Situated in North Eastern France, the region of Champagne that is responsible for the world's best bubbly, just so happens to be on the unfortunate route that the German forces took in both WWI and WWII when marching into France. This was of course absolutely devastating for both the vineyards, and the millions of bottles of wine stored in the kilometres of cellars underground. What is so fascinating to me is the perseverance and defiance of the Champagne houses to push through these awful times and remain to be quite possibly, the world's most recognizable wine region, at times even harvesting under mortar fire as the stories explain. This is certainly not the first example of the wine world pushing through tough times. Before that there were many more wars, there were religious and political movements that condemned the consumption of alcohol and if it weren't for other religious groups that hid their production behind service and faith, we could be left with regions diminished before they ever blossomed. So why should history be any reason to drink more wine? Because every time your enjoying a glass of wine, you are also becoming a part of a history that simply will not give up, and I want to contribute to that sentiment as much as I can.

 

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"When you have the right match, you will be bursting through those doors like Kramer craving Chinese food"

Do you like food?! Silly question, who doesn't? My philosophy is simple, you must eat, you must drink, so why not enjoy the hell out of it? Okay maybe wine isn't water so I guess you don't "have to" drink it but I take things the way I wish, and I say its mandatory. Of all the reasons I give on why I drink wine and you should too, this is probably the most important. Wine is beautiful all on its own, but there is no better stage than when properly paired at the dinner table. Demonstrating the power of good and bad pairings is one of my favourite things to do with people new to their passion or interest in wine. I look at wine and food pairing as if I am either opening or closing doorways to flavour, good or bad it can surely go either way, but when you have the right match, you will be bursting through those doors like Kramer craving Chinese food. Now what I mean by opening and closing doors is really quite simple, and I will try to do this quick as this is just a statement and not the whole explanation, I will have to write more than one blog to cover even a portion of food and wines marital intricacies. So - certain structures and flavours in food and wine can either raise or lower each others intensity, thus causing the food or wine to taste different on the following bite or sip. For a simple example, if you are having a spicy curry, and you really like full bodied red wine, you are in for a nasty surprise. Unfortunately in that case your full bodied red wine which likely has an elevated alcohol content, will increase the perception of heat in the dish, and the heat in the dish will also increase the perception of alcohol in the wine, thus essentially causing your wine to taste more alcoholic and closing the door on some of the niceties that you enjoy, while setting your mouth on fire from the curry and turning you into a sweaty mess at the dinner table in front of your hot date. If you do in fact want to actually enjoy the delicious curry, you would be far better off choosing something like an off-dry Gewürztraminer. Now don't let the ridiculously long and hard to pronounce name turn you away, this wine will save you from looking like a nervous sweater with a runny nose after all. This is because by having some residual sugar being off-dry, it will help calm down the heat in the dish, and Gewürztraminer definitely has enough flavour intensity to stand up to the big spicy flavours in that curry, so leave your big red wine pride at the door and take advantage of some wine science. So in a nutshell, if you haven't done a few experiments and ventured outside your comfort zone when it comes to choosing your wine at dinner, do yourself a favour and open a few more doors along the way.  

Now to avoid running on and on and on and on, I will keep my reasons at three, or I fear that I will never conclude as I find more reasons with every sip of this delicious yet off vintage 2002 Solaia Annata Diversa, a triumph of an otherwise off vintage...like I said, I must conclude before I write a novel of run-on sentences. 

Santé!

-TJ Harstine 

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