At some point, every wine enthusiast experiences an epiphany. It’s that moment when you “get” wine. For me it happened in a small Bavarian village in the Alps at a place called Heidi’s Evening Café. To impress one of the girls at the table, I ordered wine instead of the usual beer. Thankfully, Heidi’s wine list included something other than the rack of Friday evening specials found at my college campus liquor store. Before that glass I was the guy who pushed the cork into the wine bottle with the end of a fork and drank it as fast as possible to get some before my friends finished it all. After that glass I realized, “Hey, there is something to this wine thing.” I realized that wine could offer more interesting flavor profiles than just the hints of ammonia or the nuances of sulphur that I experienced when tasting some of the cheaper, mass produced wines. In wine circles this is called the “wine moment” or the “ah-ha moment”.
I remember the wine was a Cotes du Rhone, a French blend, although that meant nothing to me at the time. As I sipped, one by one, various flavors began to sneak out of the wine like sorority sisters emerging from a fraternity house on Saturday morning. I began to recognize things on my palate, really good things, like different fruits, an array of spices, even leather and other odd flavors not usually associated with food. That moment began my life-long passion for wine. In an effort to share the experience, I’ve listed two wines below that could be your “ah-ha” moment.
Edmeades Mendocino County 2007, Zinfandel ($16.99): This wine carries the masculine, big flavors of toast, leather, and tobacco with lots of dark ripe fruit but it presents them in a way so elegant and refined it’s like a guy who wrestles alligators for a living but plays the harp in his spare time.
Conundrum 2007, Table Wine ($25.99): Twenty six bucks is a lot to drop for a bottle of wine, I get it. But drinking this wine is a bit like listening to a junior high orchestra: It keeps a solid, recognizable tune for structure but at the same time sudden notes of grapefruit, honey, orange, and apricot unexpectedly escape in all sorts of directions.