Personal Growth for Oenophiles: Share Your Feeeeelings

"Red wine makes them live longer, but they get to be a real pain."

This blog supports exploring your feeeelings especially as they apply to wine consumption and appreciation. A questionnaire was recently presented to us that helps all of us consider how our wine fascination came to be and how it is progressing. tBoW share his replies below and encourage you the reader to share your own feeelings here in the safety of our little community among friends of our palates.

A true wine geek goes through the following spiritual stages:

Stage 1: Genesis. Have an epiphany wine that makes you want to get more serious about wine.
tBoW: The first epiphany year was 1985.¬†A swath of German Rieslings from the 1976, 1979 and 1983 were still available in LA’s wine shops, especially the old guard shops infrequently populated by the new school of collector fiends seeking the 1982 Bordeaux vintage.

our heroes

Prior to becoming familiar with wines from the Mosel and Saar it was all about California Cabernets and Chards, along with First Growth and Super Second Growth Bordeaux. Second epiphany moment took place in 1990 at a holiday tasting for collectors only beneath a supermarket in the West San Fernando Valley. We were introduced to Burgundy and when we asked what the wines cost, we were told “it’s not a question of price but of availability”.

Stage 2: Confusion. Realize that there are so many bewildering choices that it is difficult to decide what to buy.
tBoW: The unsolvable puzzle of Burgundy and Baroli is that one can never be sure just buying the label, including the importer, producer, village or vintage. Even DRC La Tache can suck in a touted year (1985). And mistakes are costly and never to be rectified. Taste before buying often as you can unless you can afford to be wrong – emotionally and financially.
Stage 3: Discipleship. Start following the ratings of a respected wine critic as a guide to what to buy.
tBoW: My first wine advisor was the Underground Wine Journal as a subscriber. I liked how they broke down the fallacy of the 100 point scale instead using a more sensible 20 point scale. If the lowest rating on 100 points is 85 then you really only have a 15 point scale.

don't believe the hype

Then I noticed the 20 point scale never had a rating below 13. Later on I figured out that I could buy certain importers (excepting Burgundy) and the vintage.

Stage 4: Cognitive Dissonance. Do your best to tell yourself that you are actually enjoying all the highly rated wines you are drinking.
tBoW: This is the collector’s dilemma. The real reward is showing off your First Growth Bordeaux collection, especially the mags. The biggest payoff however comes when you tell the slack jawed admirer that you can’t open the wine with him because it is too young. Since tBoW rejects such silly pretense he missed this stage.
Stage 5: Awakening. Realize that taste in wine is subjective and you need to determine for yourself what you like.
tBoW: The secret of tasting wine is knowing your own palate. It also helps if you can find your own language for describing what you experience when you try wine. The usual fruit and berry stuff is better than nothing. However, the grand language that is closer to Greek tragedy seems silly doesn’t it? It helps to learn the regions and how wine is actually made. The lesson from this is the wine world is very big and personal tastes change. Nothing better than tasting a $300 wine and saying you don’t really like it. Then describe the flavors as tobacco or plastic or bubble gum. I like to quote the film Amadeus “this wine has too many notes.”
Stage 6 Rage. What the f*ck am I going to do with all this wine I bought that i don’t actually like?
tBoW: Subscribers remorse. We travel to a wine region, taste a bunch of wines in the tasting room with other engaging couples and before you know it, you joined the wine club with terrific discounts. Then you get your first shipment and find something in there you really did not¬† know about; like Gewurtztraminer. Four years later a third of your locker is filled with Cape Blowhole Cabernets and the other seven blends and varietals they make.¬† The only good news is you never see the label on a retail shelf. At least I think that’s good news.
Stage 7: Dinner Parties. Unload the wine on friends at non-wine-geek dinner parties. They will likely be impressed as the wines are highly rated.
tBoW: tBoW refers to this as feeding plonk to the lumpen. Especially likely to occur for family events or Super Bowl Sunday. The conversation goes something like this. “I’m not going to share my Holyschmoly Pinot Noir with this group! They’re a bunch of dopes. Ferkrissakes. His wife puts an ice cube in her glass. For red.” Also referred to as separating the slobs from the snobs. Most collectors rate their wines not by Wine Speculator scores but by who they are willing to share the bottle with.

Stage 8: The Quest. Taste, taste and taste some more to see what regions, producers and vintages you like.
tBoW: Finally, the stage we can fully embrace. Trophy collectors never get this far. They really don’t enjoy wine any more than they enjoy their cars or suits.

Stage 9: Enlightenment. OMFG! Burgundy!
tBoW: For any serious wine drinker, someone who enjoys wine like s/he might enjoy food, cultures and travel, you always end up in Burgundy and Pinot Noir. The irony is that it is the most difficult region to comprehend and the most finicky grape to grow.  The tBoW current rule to live by, only buy Ann Gros sight unseen and nothing else you have not tasted (sure we do). You can also sub in Baroli here which if you read this blog you understand that the two regions are sisters.

Stage 10: Dark Night of the Soul. OMFG these things are expensive!
tBoW: There is only one way out of this conundrum. Drink more wine under $20. Insist on it. Hunt for it. Get to know it. Otherwise you drop down a black hole for which there is never enough illumination or a bottom. Suggestions: keep separate stash of wine cash to mitigate guilt and foster explorations into the deepest crevasse.

Stage 11: Inner Peace. German Riesling! And cheap too!
tBoW: It is true that Rieslings from the Mosel and Saar can be exquisitely, exotic and exceptional. The producers are fairly steady and there are plenty more than the standard big names like Prum. This is not Blue Nun or Schwarzekellar country. Fortunately, there is an outstanding source for cutting your teeth

it's all so beautiful

and getting involved in German and Austrian wines the Age of Reisling. The problem tBoW has is that we became very well acquainted with Reisling very early on; learning to love Mosel wines from the 1976,¬† 1979 and 1983 vintages. It is hard to drink these wines young as they age so incredibly well.¬† If you are going to drink them young, go for Kabinetts and Spatleses. For aging that will be highly rewarded stay with Auslese. Otherwise, young white wines affording similar suitable pleasures include many Spanish and Italian Ros√©s, Albarino and Ligurian whites…all summer long.

This list of stages comes from somewhere. If you find the source please let us know so we can give proper credit.


  1. Wavatar
    Nancy says:

    Funny. Only I think you overlooked the stage where you start writing a wine blog.

  2. Wavatar
    igty says:

    This is the first step to healing. Now admit to yourself in a blind tasting you can only identify 20% of the wines. That you can’t tell the difference between a Burgundy and a Bordeaux in sealed bags……then you have reached a higher plane of existence.

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