In wine, there's truth. ... The best kind of wine is that which is most pleasant to him [or her!] who drinks it. -- Pliny the Elder

Monday, June 3, 2013

Truth 'n Wine, The Beginning

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

“The Drinking Song,” by William Butler Yeats

The minister at my 1991 wedding read this “truth” as my about-to-be husband and I drank from a ceramic goblet I had made for the wine ceremony during our intimate wedding. On that warm, late summer day on the banks of the Hudson River in New York State the words seemed to sum up two of my truths – I loved my husband and I loved wine. My love of both has grown stronger over the years.

But this is a blog about wine, so let’s focus on that. Probably the most defining wine moment of my wine life came a few years prior to my wedding, when, as a single twenty-something working woman in NYC, I was sent on a junket by a large computer company to France to get educated on their international operations. I did get an education … but not only in computers.

The journalists on this whirlwind trip began our adventure in Paris, where we landed late morning and were promptly whisked off to a Parisian luncheon, replete with several courses of rich food and many bottles of vin.  Considering our time clocks were all on US time, not French, the meal was a bit hard to take, and so was the wine, at what was more like 5 am to our sleepy bodies. But we survived, adjusted our internal clocks, visited museums, attended meetings, and ate and drank some more. We eventually made our way down to the south of France.

On the fast train from Paris to Cannes, the wine was flowing at 100 miles per hour. Served at all hours of the day, everywhere, the French people all seemed to be drinking wine as a natural part of their diet. I thought, ‘France is very civilized and I could get used to this!’

At our final dinner in Cannes, on the hypnotic French Riviera, I and my colleagues were treated to the Mediterranean specialty of bouillabaisse, that delectable seafood soup that tastes like the ocean. The classic wine pairing, I was told, is rosé. Hmm, I thought, that’s the cheap pink wine that Orson Welles hawks on TV, using the slogan “We sell no wine before its time.” I held my tongue and opened my mind, and was delightfully surprised.  The food complemented the wine and the wine, the food —beautifully and harmoniously. At that moment I “got it” that foods and wines produced in the same climate and general locale could and should be eaten and drunk together. My palette blossomed from that day on.

Ever since that trip, I’ve been on a personal wine journey, both informally and formally. A sip of wine often triggers a fond memory. Rosé (a wine currently back in fashion) always takes me back to that bouillabaisse experience in Cannes; a sweet wine takes me to Niagara Falls, where I tasted my first ice wine 20 years ago; a tannic Syrah brings me up to beautiful Paso Robles where I have met so many startup vintners who are part of the growing “garagiste” movement.

On a more formal level, I have just completed my WSET Advanced Certification classes. The Wine and Spirit Education Trust, based in London, offers this course in various locations worldwide to provide a comprehensive overview of the global production of wine and spirits. With the knowledge I gained, I believe I now have a solid grasp of the style and quality of wine, although I know there is much more to learn. Red, white, rosé, port, sherry – all of these wines have unique and varied representations on the shelves of wine stores and supermarkets. Based on my studies, I now know how to judge what’s behind the labels.

With “Truth ‘n Wine” I will delve into anything related to viticulture (growing of grapes) and vinification (making of wine), such as the importance of terroir, popular and up-and-coming varietals, large and small vineyards, winemakers, wine bars, wine literature, and more. Most importantly, I hope to start a dialog with you. Let’s hear your wine truths. With a nod to the coming warm spring/summer months, the next installment will look at one of my favorite types of wine, Rosé.

My blog will appear weekly on

 Until then, cheers!

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