Sometimes we don’t taste the same wine often enough


Sometimes we don’t taste the same wine often enough


Sometimes we don’t taste the same wine often enough.

That seems like a strange statement, I know, but let me explain what I mean by this by using music as a comparison.

I love music. Playing it, listening to it. But I wouldn’t enjoy it so much if I only got to hear each album, or song, just once. It’s the ongoing relationship with music that makes it so rich. Some music you love first time you hear it; other music grows on you slowly. Some music you can kill: you’ve heard it so many times, it becomes really annoying.

That we should derive pleasure from music is fascinating to me. Why are some combinations of notes harmonious, while others jar? Musical taste is also intensely personal. I remember as a teenager making mix tapes for girls and hoping that they would love the music I love. Music also has the power to move emotions. Why? And then there’s the element of context. A great song is only a great song in the right context. A joyful song of happy celebration is perfect in some contexts, disastrous in others. My current favourite album is Damien Rice’s My Favourite Faded Fantasy, but put that on in a club and you’d clear the floor.

There are so many parallels with wine here. As a wine journalist I’m continually trying new wines, which is cool, and I think that I’m quite good at getting a wine, even in a tasting with lots of other wines. But there’s something to be said for repeated experiences with the same wine. In the first instance, this requires spending an evening with a bottle (or a lunchtime, or breakfast, I’m open minded).

In the second instance, and perhaps more interestingly, it requires working your way through a six pack or case of the same wine over a prolonged period. This is the richness of left-bank classed-growth Bordeaux. You buy a case, then after a while pull it out of storage, and you begin to get to know it. It’s old school, I know. But there’s part of me that thinks that I’m missing out by not having a proper cellar with a smaller quantity of different wines, but several bottles of each.

While this would be true for any wine, the strength of Bordeaux is that the leading châteaux produce their wines in decent quantities, so there’s plenty to go round, and you’ll often see the same wine on a number of occasions if you drink around widely enough. Then we can all chat about our impressions of the, say, 1996 Leoville Barton, on the basis of repeated experiences of the wine.

There’s a richness to this. As we encounter the same wine on subsequent occasions we develop a relationship with it. That’s quite cool. [Of course, though, with cork we aren’t always experiencing the same wine because of its variability, which is amplified with bottle age.]

It’s for this reason that even though I have lots of samples to work through, I still buy wines I love in six pack quantities (or 12 in the case of Champagne; you can never have too much Champagne). I want to get to know them better.

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wine journalist and flavour obsessive

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