Lesson Learned

Why attend a wine tasting if I already know what I like?

I often get asked by wine lovers why they should go to wine tastings and wine events when they already know which wines they like. It’s the same kind of thinking that around half of the people drinking wine have.

After asking and finding out what they like—they may refer to grape, style, area or even a particular brand and/or wine—my usual answer is that if you have not tried all the wines available (and no one has), or at least a decent selection, how can you know that by sticking to what you know (and like) you have made your best choice, and that perhaps there is a much better wine at a much cheaper price that you have not come across yet.

And I guess it’s all about personality and economics. For example, while I do my best to try as many wines as possible both for business and personal reasons, this can be hard work and sometimes in busy periods like international exhibitions, I just feel like drinking something that I know and that I like; and this is reflected in my cellar—which usually has around 200 bottles, and very few references will be represented by more than one or two bottles, with only about five which I buy by the case.

On the other hand, my dad, who is 82, really knows the wine he likes, and this is also represented by his cellar. He only stores one wine, and he is not too friendly to try new wines that I bring home when I visit.

While my dad has never been a wine drinker, and drinks wine for health reasons as instructed by his doctor, I enjoy the discovery of new wines, the excitement and the thrill of not knowing what a new bottle will bring.

I used to be a little bit like my dad long ago, I used to drink mostly Bordeaux and Barossa when in England and Rioja when visiting Spain; even when visiting my parents in the house they have in the Mediterranean, I would ignore the local wines and go for a bottle of Rioja. This behavior repeated for many years, until one day I decided to give it a go to a couple of bottles of local wine from Yecla—being so cheap my expectations were rather low.

However, when I opened the bottles and tried the wines, I realized what an idiot I had been, for so many years going to that area and never trying the local wines, which were wonderful and delivering great value for money. I then went back to the shops and tried as many local wines as possible, and I was fascinated.

That taught me a lesson: if you have the opportunity, try new wines, you never know when you will discover something amazing that may catch your heart (and your palate).

BIOAlfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years and has published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com

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