Why Do We Love Wine?

Cincuenta, 2009‘This is like watching a golf match,’ our host commented as we all sat swirling, inhaling and tasting in complete silence, focused only on the wine. ‘She holds the glass. Her nose goes down into the bowl, inhaling deeply,’ he said with the hushed reverence appropriate for said golf match.

I’ve fallen in with a group of CS’s and CSW’s who get together monthly to explore and learn wine, one grape at a time. December was Syrah. January was a religious experience (aka Nebbiolo.) I’ve hosted wine tastings with my friends, and I love it. It gives me a chance to try new wines, share something I’ve learned and try my hand at food/wine pairing. But with my ‘normal’ friends, the conversation winds around to books, kids, trips, and ultimately away from the wine. With my new group of wine obsessives, we never stop talking about the wine, that is, once we take our noses out of our glasses and start talking. These people say things like, ‘I can taste the iron in the soil. It must be from Washington.’ I am learning so much. But, why, I wonder, do we love wine so much?

Yes, reader, I am including ‘you’ in the ‘we.’ You must think about, write about, study, swirl, smell, and taste wine on a fairly regular basis with a fair amount of obsessive passion, otherwise, I do not think that you would be here in this growing circle of wine, shall we say, philosophers, theorists, perhaps? At any rate, here we are, obsessing about wine each in our own way, but why? What is it about wine that has captured our respective imaginations?

It seems that often those who love wine, also love food, and also love to travel. Because wine and food are associated with particular regions, they become a way of travelling, visiting a country, a culture, a people, learning their likes, their climates, their daily joys from a dish and a glass. Spain may be a long plane ride away, but an evening spent enjoying some chorizo with a glass of Cincuenta Rioja with its crisp cherry and spice aromas with just a hint of leather might get us a little closer.

Not everyone who loves to travel, also loves wine. But I have, yet to meet someone who loves wine, but does not love to travel. Be honest. When was the last time you had a glass of Tannat from Madiran and did not get out a map to see exactly where Madiran is? Wine and place are inextricably entwined, not just viticulturally, but, (dare I say it?) spiritually. That is to say, the close association of wine and place is the strong pull of wine for those of us who are obsessed with it. We are explorers in a world where there is little left to be explored. Yet, wine, with its myriad of grapes, regions, soils, aromas and climates leads us tantalizingly with, always, more to discover.

19 comments on “Why Do We Love Wine?

  1. GREAT piece!

    I totally agree that it’s food and travel that go with wine. But it is also the excitement of never knowing what to expect, even if you feel you know what to expect (because you had that particular wine before). Every bottle seems distinct, and that is what keeps me coming back.

    And also, don’t forget wine makes us time travelers, too in that it transports our memory to the vintage year, or when we first had that wine….so much to explore.

  2. Oh, and since Nina is a philosopher: Please don’t call me a wine philosopher! I am around too many philosophers all too often…;)

  3. Dwight Furrow says:

    It’s the “always more to discover” part that makes wine so fascinating. Wine seems infinitely complex. Welcome back, by the way.

  4. Blake Rax says:

    Ah I love this! Every word of it is so true. Also, isn’t so great how wine people (In my experience) are as passionate in talking about wine as they are drinking it?

  5. timmilford says:

    Really enjoyed this post. I definitely see the link between wine, food and travelling – as all of those things are certainly passions of mine. But I think what I like is the organic and mutable nature of it. The same vineyard can produce very different wines in two successive years; the same grape grown in two different parts of a country can taste massively different. It all seems so complex, yet so beguiling. That’s my take on it, anyway!

  6. I’m glad you’re back…I missed your writing. Beautiful post.

  7. aFrankAngle says:

    Becoming part of a tasting group for sharing and learning is a treat … so I hope it continues.

  8. You had me at Tannat 🙂 Ahh the mysteries behind wine. Locale for me is a big part of it. I may not be drinking a Malbec in Argentina but the romance behind the experience always draws me in. I was sitting in front of the fire when I first tried….I was with _______ when we discovered the varietal……. endless possibilities.
    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  9. […] This post by From Vinho Verde to Barolo With Love got me thinking, once again, about why wine is fascinating. […]

  10. So true! I remember the special wines I taste by the location, not the label. That goes for restaurants AND tasting rooms. Wine is an experience, a good time and a culinary adventure. You want to HOOK non-believers on wine? Take a couple, or two to wine country for a long weekend and introduce them to some good wine, beautiful and friendly wineries and great food… and they will see wine in a whole new light.

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