I’ve had some interesting professors teaching classes, but one stands out for a number of reasons - he’s a professor of law where I went to law school, and I took two of his classes. Aside from the fact that he’s a wine collector (which I’ve never spoken to him about actually), he’s an amazing professor due to his dedication to his students and to the field of law. On my first day of class with him, he taught us to research nearly every word we came across in the Uniform Commercial Code. At first it felt like a nuisance and I almost wondered whether it was time well spent, but after we studied some case law with him, he proceeded to tell us that he actually called the attorneys for both sides of each case. In fact, he does that with every case he assigns his students to study. And he extracts every bit of information about everything he teaches. When I realized his level of dedication, suddenly it felt like the very least I should be doing was researching every word of every case or law I read for his class.
Fast forward a few years to now.
Tonight I begin Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine Course. Our first lesson will be on the white wines of France. Yes, that’s kind of a broad topic, and to prepare, I’ve done some research on some whites I think we might be discussing - grape types, regions, subregions, producers, production methods, classifications, and as I go through his book, and Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible, and Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, and online sources, plus my own notes from over the years, one wine term leads me to another, and yesterday I spent most of my day researching some very small subregions in France. And I couldn’t help but think of that very unique professor who taught me the value of understanding every last word of what I’m reading.
Luckily, wine research is a lot more fun than reading the Uniform Commercial Code. Learning about my favorite wines, producers, grapes, regions - it’s so much fun for me that I began my wine research while I was in law school, and sometimes I’d sneak away from my casebooks and UCC and tax code and read about something far more fascinating - and I’d begin asking myself, What’s a “dead arm”? What makes a Montsant smell like slate? Why do crisp whites pair so well with shellfish? Several years later, these questions have evolved to, What’s the difference between Corbu and Manseng? What makes a Jura wine so funky? How long should I leave a 2007 Napa Cabernet in the wine rack to age? And the more answers I seek, the more questions I ask - and it’s exciting, and it makes it so much easier to understand each wine.