a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘wine’

drinking like a pro ;)

If I didn’t like boys so much, I would know nothing about wine 🙂  One of my mother’s favourite stories is her recounting of my first day at school.  She was hoping I was there to learn something but when asked about my first impressions, I just listed the cute boys – in order.  The analytical skills obviously kick in early…

It was an Australian boy who said he would teach me about wine if I would date him.  It seemed a pretty decent exchange since at the time I knew approximately two wines and neither was especially memorable.  The wine education went well and I ended up in Oz circa 1990.

For wine aficionados there are few better places to stumble upon.  In those days, Monty Python made fun of Australian wine (they were WRONG!), the wineries were not owned by corporations and they made one of each and people made fun of you when you spent more than $7 on a 750 ml bottle of wine.

There are a lot of negative aspects to getting old but one of the sweet spots is taunting young Aussie wine drinkers with my introductory experience.  I would rock up to a winery and they would just pour me one of each… we started with Riesling and ended with Cabernet Sauvignon – or sometimes even Port.  It took me years to not pronounce Gewurtstraminer like an Aussie (i.e. wrong :)) because that was how I first heard the word.

When I moved back to Canada in 1992 with my 100 bottles of incredibly cheap Aussie wine (including my favourite, which was actually from New Zealand – the most expensive, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc for $11 a bottle because I found it before Wine Spectator did :), I couldn’t find any decent Australian wine in the market place so decided to explore Chile, starting at A…

This year Chile was the feature country at the Playhouse Wine Festival so it was a wonderful visit to my past.  Because I have been working so much in the past few months, I had no time to make a plan for my tasting so decided to just chill and revisit lots of old favourites, try a few new things and spend lots of time talking to the people pouring the wine.

It really helped me remember why we should all drink wine.  Long ago I went to this same event with a work colleague, back when I knew very little, and discovered he had worked in a wine shop to pay for university so I flitted around the room with him trying to absorb it all.

But the part I remember the most is his favourite wine – chosen for memories of those he had shared it with, not its terroir.  That is what I really love about wine.  Drinking it with friends.  The memories.  The stories.  Pros do not drink alone.  Wine geeks love my story about finishing a bottle of Catena Zapata Nicolas out of plastic cups in the Mendoza airport – but for me it’s really a story about travelling to Argentina with my friend Kerry shortly after my dad died.  There are so many bottles of wine that have been part of the narrative of my life.  Open a bottle and make a toast to someone important to you…

random encounters with strangers…

I know children are taught NOT to talk to strangers.  And talking to creepy strangers offering you candy when you are 7 not advisable… but eventually we all have to talk to strangers.  And learn how to figure out if they are creepy 🙂

At some point in this dialogue we will discuss how painfully shy I was as a child but at present we are just going to focus on how I overcame it – and became a pro at stranger talk… I talk to strangers all the time, more frequently when I travel.  I will provide my tips for hanging out in bars at some later point – and not in the way you might envision 😉

My three days at the wine festival offered countless opportunities to talk to strangers and we will continue to explore this theme for a little while.   But first I want to note a specific encounter, which really highlighted the delights of stranger talk…

On Friday night I was busy buying wine and got to the tasting lounge quite late so there was a gigantic line, which I joined.  I didn’t know anyone and am so exhausted from work right now not talking to strangers was OK too…

But I was surprised and impressed when the guy behind me reached for a plate and instead of just taking it, he handed it to me – and then handed me a fork.  Real manners.  Such a lost art in the age of twitter.  He got my attention so I checked him out.  He was also really well dressed.  It went with the manners.  I live in a city where manners and dressing up are pretty rare so I was intrigued.  I ended up sitting with his friends to eat my dinner and exchanging some interesting words.

But he was just a random stranger so I didn’t expect to see him again.  I was back on Saturday and he wasn’t there but shortly before I was due in the proper tasting room, he and one of his friends from the night before arrived.  And waved at me.  So I chatted with them a little.

And ended up spending my evening in the tasting room with them and some of their friends.  What really impressed me was how gracious they all were.  They had made friends with the people at the Riedel booth so we wandered the tasting room with gigantic glasses, which we carefully returned at the end of the night.  The two guys I had met in the Gold Pass Lounge ran wine samples to the staff trapped in the booth demonstrating to people the difference a glass made to the taste of a wine.  And the most fantastic unexpected pleasure for me was that one of their friends has Japanese parents and an impressive knowledge of sake.  I had always thought I wasn’t sure about sake but you just need the right guide.

These are the wonderful unexpected adventures you embark on by talking to cute strangers 😉  Talking to strangers can change your life.  Try to do it at least every couple of months.  It will add a spark to your everyday life – and once you get good at it, some of these strangers will become friends…

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