Tales of an Amateur Wine Lover

Today I'm taking a break from regularly scheduled programming to participate in Bootsnall's 2012 Indie Travel Challenge...A weekly series in which travelers from around the world shared their stories. This week's topic: Learning Through Travel. 

I think it is safe to say that I've learned more while traveling over the years, than I did throughout my entire childhood education.  Perhaps it is that we are more in tune with our surroundings while traveling, as opposed to just going through the motions of daily life, but whatever the reason, there is something about travel which can turn the most random of events into a learning experience. As I roll through the slideshow in my brain, I can pinpoint many of these experiences and the lessons I took away from them. Usually these are small tidbits which get added to my brain's vault of mostly useless information, but on a trip just a few weeks ago I realized just how little I knew about something I absolutely love....Wine.

At risk of sounding completely pretentious, there are few things in life that can match the feeling of that first sip of an incredible wine. The slight head turn it imparts as your brain attempts to reconcile the orchestra of flavors rolling over your taste buds...there really is nothing quite like it. A few weeks ago my wife and I had dinner at Picasso in the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. It was an incredible experience, but without a doubt the most impressive thing about the meal was the sommelier, and his detailed descriptions of the wines we had paired with each course. There was a passion in his presentation that I couldn't help but admire, however given the amount I actually understood, it may as well have been in Latin. 
Lost in a Wine Bar

Up until this point in my wine drinking career, most of my education on the subject has come from the movies Sideways and Bottle Shock. Like many casual wine drinkers, my experience with wine tends to only involve what is available in my local supermarket, and I tend to gravitate to whatever California vintner has the catchiest label. With the exception of Cava, or maybe an accidental pick from Australia, I never venture outside the U.S. for my selection. So it really was of little surprise that I'd never heard of several of the varietals I enjoyed so much at Picasso. Well in 2012, that is going to change...

I'm resolving in 2012 to learn more about wine, and since my town probably sells more boxes than bottles of the stuff, I know I'll probably have to travel to do it. Coincidentally, my wife and I have tossed around the idea of a trip to Napa for years, and perhaps that time has finally come. But I'm also going to expand my horizons beyond the United States, and learn more about French and Italian wines also...they did pretty much invent the stuff right?

I certainly don't want to turn into a "wine snob," but I would like to be able to describe what I'm drinking without using the word "Oaky."

Wine lovers...What favorite wine of yours should I try in 2012?

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 



  1. I don't drink wine, but I live in the middle of a huge wine making valley. Obviously you need to add some Canadian wines to your list! Now I know what to bring you next time I get down South.
    Looking forward to hearing about Picasso though. I've wondered about that place for a long time.

  2. I love red wine, but to tell you the truth I know nothing about it! What a great idea - learning something new!

  3. I agree with Steve...some Canadian wines would be a great addition to your list. In Nova Scotia we have the Winter Icewine Festival (www.nsicewinefestival.ca) as well as the Fall Wine Festival (www.nsfallwinefestival.ca) - both great times to travel to Nova Scotia.

    Enjoy your wine travels!

  4. I'm interested to see what others direct you toward. I'm so amateur in this area it's not even funny. But I love wine. Good red. My husband used to work in a really nice restaurant so he knows a bit more than me, but I feel like we could be better schooled by a trip to Napa... hmm... I went once before on a trip to SF in 2006, but my friends weren't huge wine drinkers, so we only made one stop. Cakebread. If you do go to Napa, stop here http://www.oakvillegrocery.com/default.php -- cutest little grocery and picnic area.

    Cheers! Have fun


  5. You'll hear more about Picasso soon Steve:)...Also thank you for making me aware of the existence of Canadian wines...

  6. We are pretty much the same Lisa..I love red wine, but that's about all I know...

  7. I've actually had Icewine before and enjoyed it...I'll have to give it another try next time I'm in Epcot:)

  8. Oh I would never miss Cakebread. I dont know much about wine, but I know I love theirs!

  9. This sounds like such a fun thing to learn this year! And I hope you'll share some of your wine finds and facts with us! As for my favorite wine, I went to college in the Finger Lakes so I'm partial to NY wine. My favorites: Village White from Bet the Farm (www.betthefarmny.com) and  either of the Reislings from Heart and Hands (heartandhandswine.com). Good wine without "snobbishness" and at a reasonable price = the best wine.


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