The other day during a conversation about music I stated that I could probably be perfectly happy listening to nothing but bands that came out of Detroit and Austin if I absolutely had to. I grew up immersed in the sounds of one city, and can day trip to the other, but even if I hadn’t those would probably still have been my choices. It wouldn’t exactly be tough to live on a diet of Iggy and the Stooges, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Marvin Gaye, Lucinda Williams, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, MC5, The Butthole Surfers, Detroit Cobras, Joe Ely, The White Stripes and Mitch Ryder, not to mention the entire Motown catalog and old blues artists like John Lee Hooker.
Some of the greatest music ever made would be available to me, how could I ever feel that I was being limited in any way? Well, without Seattle I couldn’t listen to Nirvana or Jimi Hendrix. No New York? No Velvet Underground, Ramones, New York Dolls, Television, Patti Smith or any of the other bands that took what was invented in Detroit and ran with it. Not to mention that I wouldn’t have any Beatles, Bob Marley or the Clash, or…the list could go on and on.
So, while I certainly wouldn’t suffer from a lack of great music to listen to, I would most definitely be missing out on a lot of good stuff. That’s what a lot of people do with wine.
Wine can be a difficult subject for people to get comfortable with. I like to look at it like it is a huge pool of cold water on a really hot day. A lot of people are going to want to get in and cool off, but everyone is going to go about it in a different way. That cold water is going to keep some people laying on their towels wistfully looking at the water while some others race for the high dive. Most people, however, are going to find a way to get in the water that doesn’t involve either of those extremes. Whether you are one of those people who start by acclimating a big toe, then the foot, part of a leg, etc. until you are into the pool, or if you are like me and tend to jump in with both feet and get that initial shock out-of-the-way, the end result is the same; to get in that refreshing water.
I’m not the first to say it, and I certainly won’t be the last, but to really enjoy and learn wine it is important to get outside of our comfort zones. The reason so many wine writers and educators repeat this so often is that many of you are not listening. I talk to people all of the time that tell me that they only drink Zinfandel, or only drink wine from a particular region. My guess is that because wine seems to be a very mysterious thing, and in some ways it is, but the reality is that all wine is just rotten grapes. Just because that juicy Syrah or slightly sweet Riesling was the first wine that tasted really good to you doesn’t mean that there is not some other glass of rotten grape juice out there that you won’t fall in love with even more. A relationship with wine should not be monogamous. Just the opposite, a healthy relationship with wine should be more like the combined love lives of Hugh Hefner, Tera Patrick, Wilt Chamberlain and Catherine the Great. Get in touch with your inner wine slut!
While there are times where I only want to drink Petite Sirah or listen to nothing but the Detroit Cobras, those periods of wine or musical monogamy can’t last forever, although I am pretty loyal to the Cobras. With wine though, sooner or later some sexy Washington Cab or flirty Rhone blend will show some leg and my eye, not to mention palate, will wander. While you may eventually outgrow that special relationship with a certain wine, it will always take you back no matter how long or how far you might stray.
So what I am really trying to say is that there is a huge world of wine out there just waiting to be tasted. Quit just dipping your toe in it, or I will be forced to mix a whole lot more metaphors. Don’t think I won’t do it! Start tasting new things. And while you’re at it, listen to some Detroit Cobras. You’ll thank me for both bits of advice.