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The 'journey into wine': a vinous metaphor
So you have been bitten by the wine bug, and you are on your way to becoming a wine nut. It seems to me that a helpful metaphor for the lengthy process of growing in knowledge and appreciation of wine is that of a 'journey'. As with physical journeys, there are many routes you can choose as you head off towards your destination. Some wine lovers -- usually wealthy Americans -- decide that they want to take the motorway. In all other spheres of life, they know what they want, and they have the means to get it: they want the 'best'. Wine shall be no different, they decide. So they get straight on the Autobahn to the world's most celebrated and expensive wines. Motorways are fast, smooth and have no nasty bends, but you do tend to miss out on the view a bit.

Alternatively, you may choose to take the 'A' roads. They are not as fast as motorways, but still propel you to your destination relatively quickly. Guided by the signposts of the critics, you stop off in the odd lay-by, get to see some of the scenery, yet still progress smoothly. This option is a good one for many.

But my choice is to take the back roads of vinous obscurity: this way I continually discover new wines, odd grapes, unknown small producers. The pace is slow, there are plenty of tight bends, and occasionally I get lost. This way I really see the countryside, and even though the journey seems to take forever, there is plenty of fun to be had along the way.

What is the destination? As with many metaphors, that of the 'journey into wine' has limited applicability, the key limitation being that in this case there is no real destination. You'll never reach the end of the wine journey. There are simply too many wines -- even too many really good wines -- for one person to have tried them all. Besides, the world of wine is constantly changing. Properties and vineyards change hands, good domaines go bad, bad domaines get better (or in some cases get even worse!) and new vineyards come on line. Add to this the fact that each new vintage things change once again, and it's enough to keep us all on the road for the rest of our wine drinking lives.