The Social Aspect of Wine...as opposed to the Social Status.

June 15, 2011 at 9:46 AM

My flight landed in Toronto last Wednesday night.  It had been a long day of travel, and there was still an hour long car ride to my sister’s house.   I was happy to see my niece and nephew, but looked forward to catching up with my sister over a glass of wine after they went to bed.  I was surprised not to see any wine in the fridge when I went rummaging for something to eat.  My sister knew what I was about to say as I looked up and turned around… there was no wine as she did not know what to buy for me!  I laughed and we chatted until my sister could no longer keep her eyes open.  Even now as we are plan a BBQ for Thursday, my sister is deferring all wine choices to me.  She came home with beer tonight for my step-brother, but wants me to go with her to choose the wine, as she wants to see how I make my choices.  When I asked her how she chose wine, she replied by the ‘pretty labels’, cost and whether she needs red or white.  She may be disappointed tomorrow when she sees that is how I choose wine as well.

I spent a summer teaching my neighbour how to choose wine for herself after she confessed to wandering the aisles of the LDB until someone else chose a wine in the store.   She once picked up a bottle of wine after a lady had chosen three of the same wine, only for it to be the worst wine she had ever tasted.  My neighbour and I would visit over a glass of wine on my patio…talk a little about the wine… a lot about life. I recommended she take the tour at Mission Hill Estate Winery.  For anyone just learning about wine, the hour long Heritage Tour and Tasting is worth the  time and $10 investment as they teach you how to taste wine at the end.   Learning how to taste is the first step in wine appreciation.  Once you determine what you like in a wine, you have your point of reference.  Next, and this is an important lesson for life as well, there is no right answer.  You can like any wine for any reason.  David, at Discover Wines, believes your road to discovery is like a face of a clock.  He says off-dry, white wines would be 12 o’clock and mostly everyone starts there.  As you move around the face of the clock, the hours represent wine styles.  From off-dry to dry whites to light-bodied reds to full-bodied reds and eventually you return to 12 o’clock.  Discover Wines has a reputation for having knowledgeable and helpful staff, and that is largely due to the tasting counter.  The featured wines allow you to try something new, but also allow the staff to navigate you towards the wines you might like based on your conversation at the tasting counter.   Even if you know what you like, how do you buy for someone else?  When I worked at Discover Wines, gifts for bosses and for people ‘who know their wine’ presented the most stress for people.  What is at the root of this anxiety?  Honestly, at the end of the day, that person has just received a gift!  Buying a wine that you like as a gift for someone is okay, and it may send them a little further along their road of discovery.  My friend Laurie is always trying to find a wine I haven’t tried for our get-togethers, and I love how she keeps me on my toes!  My neighbour eventually started to supply the wine for our ‘tutorials’ from her visits to the local wineries.  She was happy to report she preferred a Pinot Gris over a Chardonnay and could confidently order a glass of wine in a restaurant by the end of the summer. I’m pretty sure I learned as much from her, if not more, that summer.

So, as my sister and I go through the aisles and shelves of the LCBO tomorrow in our search of our BBQ wine,  I will be looking for a couple of wines in the $20-25 price point.  I will play it safe and choose a white and a red.  Not really knowing the Ontario producers and wines, labels will play a big part in my decision making.  I may read some staff recommendations and shelf talkers.  In the past, I have enjoyed Rieslings and Chardonnays from Ontario. I have had some stand-out Pinot Noirs that have been less than $20 per bottle.  The wines are lighter in body than BC.  The nose is more delicate, almost floral in character and quite beautiful.  I know I am going to enjoy whatever wine I choose, as I am with my family and happy to be here!

 

 

Sunday_in_Oliver_042_3.jpgBarb is fascinated by the rapid growth in the wine industry since she arrived in the Okanagan Valley, and is curious to see how we define ourselves as a wine producing region.  She loves skiing, learned to surf in Chile and literally dances to her own beat.  She is currently seeking a role in the wine industry as a winemaker, and lives for the moment when those first grapes arrive at the cellar door.





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