One wine writer asks wine lovers to reflect on their standards


Let’s assume that you are dedicated to drinking wine. It’s your go-to, your default, your everlasting love. Wine is part of your life, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

With that assumption in mind, let’s consider a handful of questions to find out not how much you love drinking wine, but how “good” you are at it. And if simple concepts like “good” and “bad” are too aggressive, replace “How good are you?” with “How much do you care?”

The answers will be up to you — there are no right or wrong responses. This is a chance to be reflective.

First, how do you feel when people offer to pour you a glass of what you think is the “wrong” wine style? What if they offer you a glass of cabernet sauvignon the minute you arrive at a party? Even if you love that wine style but know this is not the right time for it, would you shrug and say “sure”? Or would you ask what else is available?

Beyond that, what about a more subtle instance of “wrong wine at the wrong time”? What if the order of wines you are served — either in someone’s home or in a restaurant that offers wine pairings — is not to your liking? Are you flexible, or will your night be ruined if you have to drink a light-bodied red before a full-bodied white?

When presented with multiple wine glasses during a meal, do you say to yourself, “What could be bad about any of this?” Or would you think of the myriad glasses as “missed opportunities,” too many options that don’t allow you to linger and savor? It comes down to how much you care.

How do you feel when a wine is served at the wrong temperature? If that cabernet sauvignon is too warm, would you ask if there is any way the rest of the bottle could be cooled down? If it were served so cold that it frosted the glass would you shrug and sip it, or would you cup the glass in your hand and wait for the wine to rise to the proper temperature. How persnickety are you about temperatures?

How much you care can blur together with how intolerant you are, and to me, these are two very different things. You have to care a lot to be intolerant, but you can also care as much as anyone in the world and still be tolerant. Take glassware, for example. If someone poured you a really special wine in a juice glass, would you think of it as a missed opportunity? What is your stance on wine in Solo cups?

What about a full pour for your first glass of the night, when there are several different bottles open and sitting out? You can only drink so much wine before the alcohol starts to affect you, and you can only drink so much after that before the alcohol starts to defeat you.

Would you be vigilant about every ounce of wine you tasted, or would you just go with the flow? Would that make you intolerant, or would it just be very clear evidence of how much you care?

Obviously, the “right” and “wrong” suggestions to these questions are subjective. To someone who really cares, there is a right and wrong always. To someone who doesn’t care that much, a really exquisite glass of wine served with Doritos or frozen fish sticks would not be a disaster.

The next time you are in a social situation with a glass of wine in hand, consider one or two of these questions. You may find that you actually do care about something you never put much thought into, like glassware — maybe you realize you need to stock your cabinet with great glasses. You might also realize that you have been too rigid about some other aspect of wine drinking. Letting go of that hang-up might increase your enjoyment.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360 Eats

Think you don’t like Chablis? Maybe you haven’t tried the real thing
Think you don’t like Chablis? Maybe you haven’t tried the real thing

It’s possible that you have consumed gallons of “Chablis” in your life but never really tasted Chablis, thanks to lots of misleading wine brands and labels. It is entirely possible that you have avoided the legendary wine style based solely on this false reputation. The “Chablis” that some people are familiar with, in...
Secret to a faster Jamaican fish stew: Canned (not fresh) coconut milk
Secret to a faster Jamaican fish stew: Canned (not fresh) coconut milk

Rundown is a spicy fish stew, the bouillabaisse of Jamaica. It simmers so long it runs down, which is to say thickens up. I expected a long day of running down rundown. I cooked up Jamaican staples: tomato, pepper, onion, pepper, garlic, pepper and coconut milk. I dropped in cubes of fresh cod, which seemed to cook on contact. Done. Early. An eerie...
Test Kitchen recipe: How to make a perfect rack of lamb in the oven
Test Kitchen recipe: How to make a perfect rack of lamb in the oven

Lamb is typically set aside for special occasions. This holds true especially for a rack of lamb — one of the pricier cuts. But rack of lamb is noted for its terrific flavor and for being versatile and easy to prepare. If you bought rack of lamb for a dinner and find yourself stumped at what to do with it, rack of lamb taste best with a sear...
Getting ‘choke-y with it

This is the time of year when artichoke fans have two reasons to cheer. In Mexico and the southern U.S., the harvest has already begun. Artichokes, in other words, can already be found in stores. Meanwhile, at farmers markets of all latitudes, purveyors of bedding plants are selling potted artichokes for the garden. Even in Montana, the summers are...
The simple pleasure of cooking for one
The simple pleasure of cooking for one

When I was single, I usually cooked enough food for at least two meals — dinner one night and leftovers the next. It was easier that way, and more economical. Also, I’m lazy, and getting more than one meal out of one day’s cooking appealed to my slothful side. A dinner of corned beef turns into corned beef sandwiches the next day...
More Stories