For the second time, I had the chance to take part in a collective feature published on Spotlight Toronto. After Ontario’s best rieslings, it was time for all participants to tell everyone their greatest wine story.
In some cases, that means a great bottle, one of the world’s best. But in most cases, it meant a meaningful bottle – in my case, for instance, the bottle on which I realized that I had learned to read, when I wasn’t even 5. Gee, I wonder how I made my way to blogging about wine…
Anyhow, the great bunch of writers, winemakers and other wine professionals who took part (including Norm Hardie, Konrad Ejbich, Monique Beech, Steven Campbell, Rick Van Sickle and Heidi Fielding) largely pointed to a bottle that was particularly memorable because of context: being in a great place (that first trip to Paris) with great people (a bunch of friends together at a restaurant), a great recipe (Konrad Ejbich’s coq-au-vin) or even a connection to the way one’s business has developed.
It was great fun for me to ponder that, and as I read the story and exchanged e-mails with a good friend mentioned in my chapter, I started thinking about another aspect of what we had just put together.
As wine writers and wine professionals, we generally think of blind tasting as the gold standard for evaluating just how good a bottle actually is, as objectively as posssible. Through this technical approach, we seek to identify which bottle is the greatest and why.
Yet when you ask people about the best wines they had, it is very often – if not always – a story laden with context. What made the bottle extra special was the place, the people, the moment. We derive increased pleasure from drinking in good circumstances.
It’s an interesting paradox about the way we write about wine, and the way we enjoy it. Let’s ponder that the next time we open a great bottle. And drink it among friends.