It isn’t that I am new to wine. I have enjoyed reds and whites for years, and certainly did my turn with blush wines in college. I believe my taste in wine has evolved from “easy-drinking” to a…more sophisticated range of flavors and tannins? I am sort of grasping here. My knowledge and vocabulary haven’t gotten the kind of workout my taste buds have, so they have fallen behind. I like wine, okay? Without a label, I can’t tell a Malbec from a Merlot, and the names of wines I learn while drinking them spill out of my head like water (not wine, wine would leave a stain, and these names do not leave a TRACE.) If I want to tell my husband which wine I liked that we tried, I’ll use landmarks, such as “You know the one; we had it last week with roasted pork, and I finished it off while you were talking to your dad on the phone. It was red.” My husband, an informed and inquisitive cork dork, can usually figure it out. His brother, a true wine snob, just shakes his head at me. The highest praise I have gotten from HIM (following a five minute tutorial on the flavor profile of one particular wine) was a perplexed, “Well, I’ll give you credit; you stick to your guns. You don’t say you taste chocolate overtones, just because everyone else does.”
I admit I don’t know if I have all the requisite tools to become a connoisseur, but I have a taste for wine, a plane ticket, and some expendable income dedicated to winery visits, and that is a good start for an enjoyable trip to wine country. Mr. Wordtabulous and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary (17 months late) in California. And who knows, maybe while there the switch will flip on and I’ll come back with the lightbulbs in my mental wine vault glowing brightly (but not warmly—mustn’t heat the wine.) We’ll be in Calistoga for a few days, any recommendations for a must-see winery?