Friday, November 21, 2008

I am a strange, strange human being

It's been a year and 3 months since I started my wine journey, and sometimes I feel like I haven't gone anywhere. In fact I haven't gone anywhere - I'm still at school, living in a dorm room down the hall from where I lived last year. But whenever I meet someone new and taste wine, or talk about wine, I am reminded that I'm actually a subtly different species. How have I changed?

1. I smell everything. I can be distracted by familiar scents as easily as if a friend called my name. I have identified the principle ingredients in an Odwalla shake by smell alone. There are at least 2 classmates of mine who I can smell as soon as they enter a room.

2. I drink whites at room temperature. People always question this, and I try not to preach that everyone should, but after I tried it once I was hooked. Hey, I had a middle school teacher who microwaved his coke. Now that was weird.

3. I spit out of habit. If you get between me and the spit bucket, I will shamelessly lean in front of you and let loose. If there's a decently shaped bucket, or even better, a garbage can available, I will spit from a comfortable distance of 3-4 feet. Don't give me that look. My aim is perfect.

4. I'm noisy when I drink liquids. Water, milk, coffee, tea, juice - I'll swirl, sniff, slurp, swish, and aerate all of them. So sue me. I like to actually taste what I'm drinking.

5. I'm shy when it comes to talking about wine with new people. Until I establish that someone is open-minded about wine, I keep the conversation superficial. I learned this the hard way when I found myself on the receiving end of a cartoonish anti-Parker tirade.

6. I have a low acetaldehyde threshold, which means I'm every wine bar and tasting room's nightmare. At first I told people, but then they stopped believing me, or rather, my nose. Now I just keep it to myself and don't rate the wine.

7. Anytime I hear the words "Yellow Tail" I involuntarily go through a rapid cycle of emotions. First disdain. Then guilt at feeling disdain. Then appreciation of the sugar-acid balance they've achieve. Then annoyance that American's are such suckers for high sugar and high acidity (Coke anyone?). Then disinterest at the industrial nature of the wine. Then guilt...

8. I have a corkscrew with me at all times. Wing-style corkscrews give me indigestion on sight.

9. I bring my own glasses. Go ahead, look at me funny. I can smell my wine and you can't. When people ask me whether the shape of the glass matters, I fight the urge to look at them incredulously. Even two identical glasses will smell different, depending on who's holding them and a hundred other variables.

10. I don't take notes on everything I taste anymore. Something changed in my gut when I broke 365 CellarTracker notes in under a year. I no longer had the patience to try to learn from wines that didn't excite me. When the best wine I'd ever tasted was a $19 McLaren Vale Shiraz, I payed attention to everything, even wines I didn't like at all. Now when I taste a generic wine that isn't delicious or at least interesting, I forget about it immediately. A wise man once said: Life is too short to drink bad wine.


Katie Pizzuto said...

I'm laughing because a few of these items most definitely apply to me:

1. I've been smelling everything since birth (or so I'm told). I don't put anything in my mouth until I have smelled it, and I've been asked numerous times to identify ingredients in a dish simply with my nose.

2. I have been trying to get my readership to drink wine at room temp. forever! Although I will add that, in general, for tasting notes, it's usually best to taste the wine both ways because chilling it will almost always bring out more of the acidity.

4. I'm super-noisy when drinking liquids as well, especially tea and coffee.

5. I tend to temper my passion for wine in general conversation as well, not because of other people's opinions, but because I don't want to bore them with information they don't really have an interest in.

8. I keep a wing-style corkscrew in the house for visitors, but always use the waiter's one myself, and likewise carry one with me wherever I go. In addition, I'm not sure how many foil-cutting folks realize you can simply pull the entire foil off most bottles.

9. Guilty of bringing my own glasses to BYOs, wine tastings and restaurants that I KNOW have terrible glassware.

10. I wrote a piece on this once, as well. I ONLY take tasting notes if I know I'll be reviewing a wine on my blog. Otherwise, personally, I've learned that my memory serves me just fine:

Rajiv said...

Thanks for reading, Katie - I love your blog!

I actually find that my memory does not serve me that well, at least, not at the level of detail I would like. While I can usually recall the general characteristics of a wine, especially prompted by memories of who I shared it with, where, and when, I often cannot recall nuances of aroma, or details of structure.

So if I want to remember a wine, I will write it down. There's a lot of bad wine out there, though, that I don't care to remember.