Saturday Potpourri: A brief history of wine

Today, we received our first ever piece of mail addressed to our new married name that both of us will be taking as of March 29, 2008. Though we won’t be able to attend the Old Fashioned Holiday Party (seeing as how we arrive in California five days later), it was still lovely to get an invitation. Thanks, Sara!

I’m coming up a little short today when it comes to posting topics or themes. Dan suggested I write about wine, so here goes.

As most of you know, I grew up in the part of northern California that is considered to be “wine country.” The first time I remember really being conscious that all the grapes grown in the area got turned into wine was one fall after the harvest when flocks of starlings kept flying in front of our car, and some of them would land on the road and not really move. One parent or another mentioned how the birds were eating the leftover grapes that had fermented on the vines and were drunk.

Neither of my parents are big drinkers, and the most I ever had to drink before college was a few sips of kahlua. I drank a little bit of wine in college, mostly cheap stuff from boxes or really sweet wine (I believe my first was a white zinfandel, which is the girly punch of wine). I figured I just must not like wine, and would never like it. I do have a memory of a party at the Big House (the house where my college boyfriend, several friends, and I (briefly) lived during the late 90s and early 2000s) wherin we had this big bottle of some sort of white wine and I had two glasses and got really tipsy right before Sara and our friend Christi got there. I didn’t like it much then, but I liked it better than the other available options (beer, probably).

It wasn’t really until I went to Europe the summer after I graduated college that I really started to like wine. Everyone told me that spending time in Germany would ensure I developed a taste for beer (it didn’t, but that’s another story entirely), but I did somehow grow a fondness for wine in France and Italy. In fact, it’s about all I drank in Europe (other than the aforementioned beer in Munich). That’s also when I really started paying attention to varietal, which kinds I liked, which weren’t so good for me, etc. When I returned home, I started to really get into wine, going tasting at some of the wineries in the area where I grew up and figuring out which ones were my favorites.

Since then, I’ve really developed a taste for wine. I know which wines are my favorites (sauvignon blanc,viognier, shiraz/syrah), which ones I shouldn’t drink lest I develop an instant headache (merlot), which wineries have the wines I like more than others. I have a deep fondness for Bonny Doon winery, among others in California, but if possible I like to try local wines from various places when I travel. My sister and her fiance brought us back a bottle of white wine from Greece that was awesome; QIR brought a bottle of red from Tuscany in 2002 and we drank it last year. It was fantastic. I’m going to look for the same wine when we’re in Italy in January, because I would like to drink more of it.

I started to think about wine and the development of my fondness for it when I was talking to my little sister last week. She’s about to turn 21 and doesn’t really like wine, though somehow in the last couple of months that has started to change a bit. I told her about how I didn’t really like wine until I was about 21, either, and I’m looking forward to going wine tasting with her sometime, maybe when we’re out there at Christmas. There’s only going to be wine and beer at both our wedding and my middle sister’s, so if Laurel wants to get her drink on she’s gotta put up with wine. Or beer.

In related news, when we were at the cabin last month I voluntarily drank quite a bit of beer from the Estes Park brewery (called Stinger). I can’t explain it, but it didn’t have the soapy taste that beer normally puts in my mouth. And when we were in Louisville this past summer, I tried some of Dan’s bourbon and didn’t get disgusted. I even have a tot or two from time to time of the Old Forester he’s keeping around these days. I can’t explain why, only that maybe my taste buds are finally maturing. I can’t expect that I’ll develop a fondness for beer, but I did find one that wasn’t completely gross. And bourbon’s not so bad. Nor was the scotch Dan drank with his dad the other night (I had a couple of sips). And the 12-year Jameson’s Irish whisky I got him a couple of years ago? Yum. I refuse to attempt to like gin, though, so don’t even try.

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