might sound a bit daft to say it, but the first purpose of wine is
that it should be fun. Yes, itís interesting, it has a measure of
intellectual appeal, and it becomes more interesting as you learn more
about it, but as an alcoholic beverage it is supposed to be a drink of
relaxation, enjoyment and good old-fashioned fun.
is why I did a bit of a double-take, recently. Iíd got to the stage
where drinking wine had lost some of its fun. Instead, I was opening
bottles to write tasting notes, or just because getting the corkscrew
out was part of the evening routine. There was none of the eager
anticipation to see what was inside the bottle. And when I was
drinking the stuff, it wasnít really flicking the right switches,
even though many of the wines I was opening were of reasonably high
calibre. Something had changed.
itís not a huge crisis, and hardly deserving of an article. On the
other hand, I suspect this phenomenon is relatively common to anyone
whoís been developing a professional involvement in what was once
just a hobby. I remember back to 1993, when I was just beginning to
develop a serious interest in wine. Every bottle was an adventure,
even though my tasting notes written at the time now look almost
laughably brief (e.g. ĎA smooth, rich redí).
whatís the answer to jaded palate syndrome? At first I thought it
was to drink better. Thus I was opening £10 wines to get the same
kick that £5 wines used to give me. The problem here is that it
doesnít really work: you end up spending a lot more money, and
itís an escalating process. Few of us can drink first growth claret
answer for me was a change of scene. Now and then we need a break from
whatever we are involved in; a chance to take a step back and regain a
sense of perspective. Often a change of position is good: shifting
from the vantage point of a wannabe professional wine writer to that
of the consumer. This is more or less compulsory for any writer who
wants to stay at all relevant to their audience. If I want to write
effectively for consumers then I have to think like a consumer. My
solution to this mini-crisis was to take a short break. Stop taking
notes. Stop raiding the cellar. And then when I resumed I started by
drinking cheap supermarket wine in modest quantities. After a while of
this sort of consumption pattern, then you are ready to begin going
after the good stuff again.
I've done this and, for now at least, I'm really enjoying wine again.
It's a blast.
use a motoring analogy. You might be a car buff with an expensive
sports car. The problem is, if you are driving an expensive sports car
every day, the privileged nature of this automotive experience might
be wearing a little thin. Is the answer to lust after a bigger,
faster, posher sports car? No, try this instead. Garage the sports car
for a month and go and buy an old second hand motor with a small
engine and bad ergonomics. Thereís a twofold benefit to be gained
here. First, you will begin to appreciate the fine engineering of your
sports car when you return to it. Second, you might even grow to enjoy
the quirks and limitations of an old, simple car again. I remember
driving round an old Mk 1 Astra Estate during my latter years as a
student. It was an old heap, but a loveable heap. To make a parallel
with wine here might be stretching the analogy a bit, but I hope you
get the point.
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